Food business licence (Brisbane) - Queensland


A food business that conducts the following activities requires a licence from council (unless non-profit organisation - see below).  If you are unsure if your business requires a licence, contact council.

Manufacture of food

Licensable food businesses examples:

  • restaurant or delicatessen
  • catering business
  • takeaway pizza shop
  • motel providing meals with accommodation
  • unpackaged food from a vending machine
  • child care centres/services
  • private residential facilities
  • bed and breakfasts
  • preparing and selling meals to homeless persons at a homeless persons hostel
  • preparation of meals by Meals on Wheels

Non-profit organisations

Non profit organisations are considered licensable food businesses if they provide meals at a particular place on at least 12 days each financial year.


  • a restaurant, open daily to the public, operated by a sporting club to raise revenue for the club
  • a non profit organisation preparing and selling meals to homeless persons at a homeless persons hostel
  • the preparation of meals by Meals on Wheels
  • mobile food van (providing meals) at a sporting ground

Note: if the non profit organisation is not deemed to be preparing a meal as outlined below, then it is not considered a licensable food business. This definition exempts sausage sizzles from being licensable activities.

Food safety programs

The following food businesses are required to have a food safety program accredited by the local government:

  • the food business involved off-site catering
  • the primary activity of the food business is on-site catering at the premises stated in the licence
  • the primary activity of the food business is on-site catering at part of the premises stated in the licence to cater for 200 or more people on 12 or more occasions in any 12 month period.  The food business is carried on as part of the operations of a private hospital or otherwise processes or serves potentially hazardous food to six or more vulnerable persons (e.g. a child care centre or aged care facility).

Food businesses that are required to have an accredited food safety program are required to have an audit conducted by an appropriate auditor approved by the Department of Health, within the first six months of accreditation, then at a frequency determined by the local government.

If you operate any other type of food business (other than mentioned above) and you wish to have a food safety program accredited, you may submit your program to your local government.

Service type


A licence defines the need to obtain recognition / certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity.


Even though a licence may not be required, you still have a responsibility to ensure the sale of safe and suitable food and an obligation to comply with the Food Standards Code. This includes the design, construction and fit out of your premises.

A food business that consists of only the following activities does not require a food licence from council but may need approval from another government agency:

  • production of primary produce under an accreditation granted under the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000, Part 5. eg, abattoir or dairy farm.
  • the processing or sale of fisheries resources under the provisions of the previous buyers licence now incorporated within the Food Production (Safety) Act 2000
  • food business conducted by a state or a government owned corporation
  • tuckshops operated by a parents and citizens association at a state school
  • handling of food at a persons home that is intended to be given away to a non profit organisation for sale by the organisation
  • sale of unpackaged snack food that is not potentially hazardous - examples: corn chips or potato chips, biscuits or cakes (however the business where the biscuits/cakes are made needs to be licensed), confectionery, nuts, dried or glazed fruit
  • sale of whole fruit or vegetables
  • sale of seeds, spices, dried herbs, tea leaves, coffee beans or ground coffee
  • grinding of coffee beans
  • sale of drinks, other than fruit or vegetable juice processed at the place of sale. examples: tea or coffee, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks
  • sale of ice, including flavoured ice such as snow cones or bags of party ice
  • provision of meals by a non profit organisation if:
    • the meal consists only of fruit, cereal, toast, or similar food; or
    • the consumer of the meal helps to prepare it
  • sale of unpackaged food, not considered to be a meal, by a not for profit organisation. Example: BBQ sausage sizzle

Provision of meals by a non-profit organisation that:

  • are pre prepared by an entity other than the organisation, and
  • are stored and heated or otherwise prepared by the organisation in accordance with directions of the meal's manufacture.


  • the provision of a frozen meal, at the canteen of an independent school, after the meal is microwaved in accordance with instructions on the meals packaging
  • provision of a meal prepared by a non profit organisation as part of an educational or training activity conducted by the organisation involving food preparation, hospitality or catering.

Eligibility requirements

  • development (town planning) approvals from council (fixed premises only)
  • building approvals from a building certifier, if constructing or fitting out the premises, or making changes to the fitout that involve any building work (fixed premises only)plumbing approval from Council if installing or altering plumbing work (fixed premises only)
  • trade waste approval from council if discharging waste to sewers/drains, e.g. grease traps
  • Standing street stall licence from council (mobile vehicle only, if vehicle will be selling from a fixed location, e.g. by the roadside or on a footpath, where council controls the road)

Additional approvals

If any of the following approvals are applicable to your situation, you must obtain them before you start operating.

  • Advertising sign permit/s from council
  • Footway dining licence from council if you wish to use the footpath area for serving food and/or drink to customers, e.g. placing tables and chairs on the footpath
  • If serving alcohol, a liquor licence from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.

Attach the required documentation with your application providing your eligibility to receive the discount or exemption (contact the Brisbane City Council for more information).


The Food business licence is renewed annually and attracts an annual fee.To renew your licence online you will need your renewal notice. Click on Online Services under the Payments and eServices tab - Select Pay a Bill - Select Permit Renewals and follow the prompts. You can also renew your licence by phone or in person at any Brisbane City Council regional business centre.


You can obtain a schedule of fees from council.

Regulation(s) name

Food Regulation 2016 QLD

Application process

The steps for licensing a food premises or vehicle are:

  1. Obtain all the prerequisite approvals listed below that apply to your situation.
  2. Apply for this licence (Food business design application).
  3. If design is approved, construct and/or fit out your premises and/or vehicle.
  4. Apply for any additional approvals (Food business licence application) required for your situation.
  5. Council will inspect the premises and/or vehicle before issuing the licence.
  6. Once the licence has been issued, you can start operating.

Legislation requires that final council approval must be obtained within 60 days of lodging a Food business licence application. If your construction and/or fitout will not be completed well within this time frame, you should lodge a Plan assessment design requirements application only (at step 2 above), then lodge the licence application at a later stage.

Attach the following plans to your application 1. site plan (1:200 scale), including the car park, refuse area and adjacent land uses (not required for a mobile food vehicle 2. floor plan (1:50 scale), including layout of benches, tables, storage and exhaust canopies and details of finishes to floors, walls and ceilings 3. sectional elevations of all benches, equipment & fixtures (1:50 scale) 4. other relevant plans, e.g. hydraulic, mechanical ventilation. Plans must include the following details: name, address and phone number of the draftsperson, proposed name of premises, real property description, drawing scale.

Amendments must be lodged by mail or in person at your nearest council regional business centre. Plan assessment design requirements applications can be lodged at your nearest council regional business centre. It is recommended you contact council and ask to speak to an Environmental Health Officer to discuss requirements before lodging this type of application.

Council may inspect the premises and/or vehicle during or shortly after the licensing process. You must supply all mandatory information and documentation when making an application. If you submit an application that is substantially incomplete or incorrect, Brisbane City Council will not be able to process the application. Council will not refund fees in this case. You may need to pay a resubmission fee if you resubmit an application that has previously been refused for this reason. If you have any questions about your application, contact the Brisbane City Council Call Centre.

Food safety supervisors

The Food Act 2006 requires every licensable food business in Queensland to have a food safety supervisor. Licensees are required to notify the local government that issues the licence of the name and contact details of the food safety supervisor for the food business within 30 days of the licence being issued. Refer to Fact sheet 18: Food safety supervisors for further information about food safety supervisors.


Food business licences cannot be transferred.

Additional information

Description of food business categories:

  • accommodation meals: accommodation premises such as motels, hostels, boarding houses, etc where meals are prepared and served to guests but the dining areas are not open to the general public
  • bakery/patisserie: preparing (with or without packing) bread, biscuits, cakes, pastry or other flour products
  • beverage manufacturer or bottler: preparing or packaging cordials, soft drinks, fruit juices, fruit juice products, brewed soft drinks, mineral or carbonated waters
  • cafe/restaurant: a place where meals and light refreshments are prepared, served and consumed, including a cafeteria, tea room or coffee lounge (called by any name) furnished or fitted with tables, counters, chairs, benches or like facilities designed or adapted for use in serving and consuming food.
  • care facility meals: Level 3 Residential Services or other accommodation premises for people with a disability, infirmity, illness, disease, incapacity or other personal care needs, where meals are prepared and served to residents.
  • caterer:
    • on site: preparing and serving potentially hazardous food of a predetermined type to a predetermined number of persons served at a predetermined time for a predetermined cost.
    • off site: serving potentially hazardous food at a place other than the principal place of business for the food business.
    • not for profit: preparing of food either on site or off site by religious or charitable organisation.
  • child care centre meals: preparing and serving of snacks and meals as part of a service to a child at the centre
  • delicatessen: sale of smallgoods, cheeses, antipasto and the like
  • food manufacturer or packer: making food by combining ingredients, processing or packaging food
  • food Shop: preparing, storing, handling, serving or selling unpackaged food. Food shop does not include the following types of premises:
    • bakery/patisserie
    • cafe/restaurant
    • beverage manufacturer or bottler
    • takeaway food premises
    • mobile food vehicle
  • fruit and vegetable processing: peeling, cutting or combining ingredients to make fruit and vegetable salads and the like
  • hospital meals: supply of food together with accommodation or service at a private hospital; or a state hospital where the food service is operated by a private food business
  • mobile food vehicle: a vehicle from which meals or light refreshments are prepared and sold in a state ready for immediate consumption, including a snack bar or similar (called by name)
  • takeaway food: preparing and selling meals or light refreshments in a state ready for immediate consumption, including a snack bar or similar (called by any name), not furnished or fitted with tables, counters, chairs, benches or like facilities designed or adapted for use in consuming food.

Administering agency

Brisbane City Council

Contact details

Contact Email, Phone and Address Details for this service in simple two column table format, header then data.

Brisbane City Council

Operating address: Library & Customer Centre, 266 George Street
Queensland 4000
Mailing address: GPO Box 1434
Queensland 4001
Phone: 07 3403 8888
Fax: 07 3403 9982
Website: Brisbane City Council (Opens in new window)