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Do You Need a Food Hygiene Certificate to Sell Sweets?

In the United States, you will only need a food hygiene or food safety certificate if you plan to make and sell homemade sweets. But if you plan to import, repackage or just sell sweets, you are not mandated by any law to obtain a food hygiene certificate.

In the United States, anyone who handles or serves food is expected to obtain a safe food safety certificate. It is also referred to as a food handler’s permit, food handler’s card or license, food handling certificate. These terms all mean the same thing.

Although sweets are a very low – risk food that presents few food safety hazards, it is still important that, as a food business, you have an understanding of the basic food safety principles. It is also why it is recommended that you get a training that covers everything you need to know about cleaning, stock control and use-by dates as well as the basics of safe food handling.

What is a Food Hygiene Certificate?

A safe food hygiene certificate is best known as an official document that demonstrates to health inspectors that you have undertaken a food handler training course approved by your state and that you’re knowledgeable about food safety.

Note that this certificate proves you have an understanding of how food can make people sick after becoming contaminated due to various factors, how to keep the equipment clean, how to store food properly, etc. While sweet sellers or sweet shops are not mandated by law to have a food hygiene certificate to prepare or sell sweets, the majority of food businesses will prefer that they do.

In addition to this, when it comes to employment, companies and organisations are more likely to hire candidates who have a valid food hygiene certificate over those who don’t. While food hygiene certificates mostly don’t have an expiry date, food industry experts recommend they are updated every three years or so to correspond with legislation and technological developments in food hygiene.

Since there are no federal regulations around food hygiene certification in the United States, the requirements for obtaining one tend to vary by state and county. The ServSafe Food Handler course is a one – stop solution to meet this requirement.

It is accepted in all 50 states so your local health department will be satisfied if your business possesses a certificate from ServSafe. Note that the online exam has 40 questions and there’s no time limit to answer them. Successfully completing this course requires at least 75 percent of the questions to be answered correctly.

It costs just $15 and that includes the online course and the final exam. However, have it in mind that while you may retake the course, the certificate is contingent upon passing the exam. You’re only allowed to take the final exam up to three times.

Other Necessary Licenses and Certificates Needed to Sell Sweets

Getting the needed license to sell sweets in the United States can take many different routes depending on your niche. For instance, if you plan to sell homemade sweets, you may be required to build or install a commercial – grade kitchen and pass a health inspection by the county health department.

Individual counties and states have their own laws about selling sweets and candies. However, here are the basic legal requirements of selling sweets in the United States.

1. Sellers Permit

The key reason governments’ impose seller’s permits are to enable them to collect sales tax on transactions. Note that failure to secure a seller’s permit could result in penalties and fines as well as back taxes on previous sales. A seller’s permit gives an individual or business the authorization to sell products and services within the jurisdiction granting the license.

Many states require seller’s permits, as do some local authorities, including counties and cities. They can also be called “sales tax permit” or “sales tax license.”Before you open your doors, be sure to register to collect sales tax by applying for each separate place of business you have in the state. A license or permit is important because in some states it is a criminal offense to undertake sales without one.

2. Health Department Permits

Since sweets are foods and are treated as such, you’ll need a county health department permit. This costs about $25 and varies depending on the size of your store and the amount and type of equipment you have. The health department will want to inspect your store before issuing the permit.

3. Federal Tax ID

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number and is used to identify a business entity. Note that it costs nothing to apply for an EIN, it can be registered online, and most vendors will require a tax ID before conducting business with a retailer.

4. Business License

How and where you register your sweet shop with the state will hugely depend on your state’s laws. To ascertain what is required to obtain a business license for your sweet shop in your state, start by visiting your state’s official website. States in the United States have varying resources on how to register a new business and all of the requirements that must be met.

If your sweet shop will be located within the city limits, you may also be expected to acquire a local business license. Note that some counties and other municipalities also mandate a license. Call your county or city clerk’s office for more information. The fee varies depending on the type of business and where it is located.

5. Resale Certificate

To legally buy your sweets to resell and not pay sales tax, your business will need a resale license or certificate. However, not all states require a sales license and each state has its own name for this type of license.

Nonetheless, this type of business license will allow your sweet shop to buy sweet tax exempt from a manufacturer or distributor. Then you collect the sales tax from the customer and pay it back to the state. Most vendors will request a copy of your resale certificate before doing business with your store.

6. Business Name Registration or DBA Certificate

If, for instance, you use any name for your sweet shop other than your own personal name, you’ll need to file the appropriate paperwork. Have it in mind that some business licenses include a business name registration; others require a separate registration or a DBA (doing business as) certificate. Nonetheless, as you file for ​​corporate business structure, a foreign or fictitious name application is generally included. Again, check your state’s laws for more details.

7. Sign Permit

In the United States, some cities and suburbs have sign ordinances that restrict the size, location and sometimes the lighting and type of sign you can use outside your sweet shop. To avoid very expensive mistakes and backlash, it is advisable you check your state regulations and secure the written approval of your landlord (if you rent a house or apartment) before you go to the expense of having a sign designed and installed.

8. Certificate of Occupancy

A certificate of occupancy may be needed for business properties in some areas. After applying, the property is inspected by representatives of the necessary agencies. These may include the fire department inspector, the building inspector, and the health and/or sanitation inspector.


In the United States, food handler certificates can be attained through compliance training, online e-learning in your own time or through relevant prior experience.

Although this certificate is not mandatory for sweet sellers, acquiring it will help you learn and understand the temperatures needed for storage and handling activities from delivery through to sale. You will also learn about common food pests and how best to control them, and also the principles of cleaning and disinfection and how these apply to your space.