One of the most important steps you must take when starting a bottled water company is to obtain all necessary licensing and permits. Aside that this will save you from running into problems with the state and regulatory bodies, it will prove to suppliers, customers, and business associates that your business is credible and recognized by the state.

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits for your bottled water company should not necessarily be a difficult process. Here are the steps involved:

How to Obtain License and Permit for your Bottled Water Company

1. Submit your license application

Your first step is to obtain a water bottling company license application form from the appropriate local agency. You will typically be required to pay a fee for the application form. After obtaining the form, you must complete it duly and submit it. Here are some guidelines for completing the application form:

  • Include the name of your bottled water company.
  • The business address must be that of your water bottling plant, not that of the office or corporate headquarters.
  • The mailing address can be that of the plant, the head office, or a branch office. Ensure that the mailing address is correct so that you will be able to receive your license and renewal notices.
  • Provide proper telephone numbers to expedite scheduling of inspection appointments.
  • You will most likely be required to state your water sources. Only water from a licensed private water source or public drinking supply can be processed for bottling at your plant. An unlicensed well or spring—regardless of whether you own it or not and regardless of whether it is proximal to your plant or not—cannot be used as a source.
  • If your source is a public drinking supply, you should give the contact details of the water source and obtain a copy of the most recent chemical, microbiological, and physical analysis of the water as conducted by the appropriate inspection agency.
  • If your source is a licensed private water source, state the contact information as well as the operator’s name, phone number, and license number. Also, include a copy of the purchase contract.

However, you must bear in mind that your application will be rejected if it is incomplete or illegible. Note, too, that license fees are non-refundable even if your application for a license is declined. And should the ownership or location of your water bottling plant change in the future, a new application must be submitted because water bottling company licenses are usually non-transferrable to new owners or locations.

Your license application may also be declined if your plant is located in an area that is not zoned for a water bottling plant (unless you get a variance or conditional use permit). To get licensed even when your plant isn’t in a zoned location, you must present your case to your city’s planning commission and get a variance. You will most likely be granted a variance if you can prove that your business won’t disrupt the character of the neighborhood around your plant.

2. Have your plant inspected

Once your application has been accepted, your water bottling plant will be inspected prior to issuance of the license. Even after the issuance of the license, your plant will be inspected on a periodic basis to ensure that your plant remains compliant with applicable laws and quality requirements. Your bottling plant will be inspected based on the following:

  • Source water quality: This refers to the quality of your source water, whether it is a public water supply or a private water source. You will need to present copies of the source water quality analysis to the inspectors.
  • Product water quality: This is the quality of the water you will produce at your water bottling plant. The general, chemical, bacteriological, and radiological quality of the water will be assessed and checked against quality standards set by the agency in charge.
  • Bottling operation: How the bottling process is done will also be inspected. You must provide evidence that bottling room is operated in a sealed system under pressure (photographs are usually acceptable). And there must be adequate sanitations and hygiene.

3. Obtain other licenses and permits

You must bear in mind that the procedure explained above is for obtaining a water bottling license. There may be many other licenses and permits depending on what obtains in your state or country. Examples of other licenses and permits you might need to obtain before starting your bottled water company include the following:

  • A DBA license (if you will be operating the business using a fictitious business name).
  • A tax ID number (Employee Identification Number) — since you will be hiring employees to work for you.