Are you about starting a catering business and want to meet the legal requirements? If YES, here are 8 easy steps on how to get a catering license and permit.

Sometimes, we get too excited about starting our new catering business that we completely forget about the need to obtain necessary licenses and permits for the business. Getting permits and licenses for your new catering business is not something easy and fun but it is something that has to be done to avoid run-ins with law enforcement officials.

If you feel that pursuing all the necessary licenses and permits for your catering business would be too much of a stress for you, you can engage the services of a legal practitioner who would obtain all the licenses on your behalf. However, meeting the requirements is totally up to you. So let’s teach you how you can go about obtaining all the licenses and permits you need to start your catering business without stress.

The procedure for obtaining license and permits for a catering business differs from country to country but here are a few general steps you can take regardless of where you plan to start your catering business.

How to Get a Catering Business License & Permit in 8 Easy Steps

  • Find out if you are eligible to start a catering business. You must be at least 18 years old and be the owner of the business to apply.
  • Find out what documents you would need. Some documents you would need include a valid ID card and business registration documents.
  • Find out the financial costs of obtaining the licenses and permits.
  • Submit your application.
  • Monitor your application process.
  • Find out criteria to be met and comply with them.
  • Agree to inspection visits
  • Receive approval and license.

The different licenses you would need include-:

Types of Permit and Licenses You Need to Start a Catering Business

1. Business License

First, you would need to register your business and obtain a license which would give you the permission to start a business in your country and state. The business licensing authorities would have to check if there are no laws preventing you from starting that business.

For instance, if you plan to start your catering business from home, they would have to check to be sure that there are no strict zoning laws in your area that prevents you from starting a home based business. Once you have your business license, you are ready to move on to the next step.

2. Catering License

Next step is to obtain a catering license. To do that, you may have to attend a food health and safety training course where you would be taught healthy and safe practices to prevent food poisoning and health problems stemming from food consumption. If you are able to pass the exams, you would be offered a catering license. You may also have to renew it every year.

3. Fire Department Permit

Catering business involves working with fire, gas and other flammable materials. You have to obtain a permit from the fire department before you can start your catering business.

The fire department would hand you some basic requirements which you would have to comply with and would schedule an inspection visit, so as to check up on your compliance with the requirements. If you meet up, a permit would be given to you. You should also expect to be closely scrutinized and be visited frequently by the fire department as they would want to do everything possible to prevent fire incidents.

4. Liquor License: If you plan to serve alcohol to your clients, then you would need to obtain a license permitting you to do so.

5. Air and Water Pollution Control Permit

You would be working with cookers and burners which would discharge dangerous gases into the air. You would also need a place to dispose dirty water and all other waste products. This is why you need a permit from the state environmental protection board who would offer you a license after meeting some set criteria.

6. Sign Permit

Of course, you would want to advertise your business and make sure a lot of people are aware of your business and one of the ways to achieve that is through sign posts and boards. You would have to visit the body in charge of advertisement regulation in your state to find out the approved sizes, lighting and location to place your sign board. This is after you must have parted with some subscription fees. It is important that you do this before having any sign post designed or installed at all.

6. County Permits: If your catering business is located in a county, you would have to visit your local county office to obtain a county permit for your catering business.

7. State Licenses

You should also schedule a visit to your state licensing office to find out if you would need a permit to run your catering business in that state. Usually, you would be required to write and pass a qualifying examination to be able to obtain such license. For instance in Maryland USA, you have to obtain a food service facility license to start your catering business.

8. Health Department Permits

You will also need a health department permit for your catering business. Before this can be issued to you, an inspection visit would also be scheduled to ascertain if you employ safe practices in preparing your meals.

9. Sales Tax License

Of course, you are running a taxable business and you would be expected to file tax returns regularly. However, tax laws vary from country to country. In Nigeria for instance, you would need to register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service which would give you a tax identification number which you would use to file your taxes yearly.

You would also be required to pay 5% value added tax which you would collect from your clients to the government. And if you employ any sub-contractor’s services, you would also have to file withholding taxes deducted from them.

10. Display your permits

When you have all the necessary permits, make photocopies of them and display them in your business premises so that whenever any government official walks in for an inspection, they would be able to see that you have met all legal requirements and have the necessary permit to conduct your business.

11. Retain your permits

Lastly, you have to do all that is in your power to retain your licenses. These means complying with all required laws, rules, regulations and best practices and avoid doing anything that would cause your catering licenses and permits to be seized or revoked.

The Best Insurance for Your Catering Business

One of the mistakes that you do not need to make when starting your catering business is to not have the best insurance plan. If you do, then you just might be shortchanging yourself in the long run. It is for this reason that you will need to get a good insurance plan because of all the liability risks that is involved in the trade. One of the best insurance you will need to get for your business is the catering liability insurance.

What is a Catering Liability Insurance?

A catering insurance is a detailed type of business insurance that comprises various coverage options. These coverage options is essential for the protection of your catering business from risks in the catering industry. Catering liability insurance usually entails only those policies that are specific to your industry, so you won’t have to pay for coverage options that you don’t need.

It is very vital to take catering business insurance really seriously, so that you do not fall prey to some harsh conditions that could befall any people.

  • Does Catering Business Need an Intellectual Property Protection?

Typically a catering business does not need an intellectual property protection. However, there are cases where the business may have some training school and as such will need to produce some manuals which will need to be registered as an intellectual property.

Ajaero Tony Martins