Starting a catering business can be a lucrative endeavor, but it’s important to make sure that you have all the proper licenses and permits in place before you get started. In this article, we’ll outline what licenses are needed to start a catering business and how to go about getting them. Let’s get started!
Common Permits and Licenses
Elaborated below, here’s a high-level list of the permits and licenses you’ll likely need to start your catering business:
- Catering license
- Employee Identification (EIN) number
- Mobile catering license (if applicable)
- Register your company with the state
- Get, and remain, up to date on state-required education courses
- Food-service license
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your catering company business.
For example, if you are starting a catering truck business, you will need to obtain a mobile food license from your local health department. If you are starting a full-service catering company, you may need to obtain a liquor license if you plan on serving alcohol at events.
You must also register your catering company business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State’s website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website if you plan to hire employees.
If you will be catering food, you need to get a catering license from your local health department.
The application fee for a catering license is usually around $200 and the license itself is generally good for two years.
To apply, you’ll need to submit an application, pay the fee, and pass a catering inspection. You may need to undergo catering education and training first before you can be licensed.
Catering Education and Training
Some catering companies require their employees to have catering education and training before they can begin working.
There are a few different ways to obtain catering education and training. One way is to take online courses, which can be found through catering schools or even online retailers like Amazon.
Another way to get catering education and training is to find a catering apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs are typically run by professional catering companies and can last anywhere from six months to a year.
Catering Business License
In addition to a catering license, you’ll also need to obtain a catering business license.
The application fee for a catering business license is usually around $100 and the license itself is good for one year.
To apply, you’ll need to submit an application, pay the fee, and pass a catering business inspection.
Local Health Department Requirements
In addition to a catering license, you may also need to comply with local health department requirements.
For example, your catering company may need to have a food service and safety license.
To obtain a food service and safety license, you’ll need to take a food handler’s course and pass an exam. The cost of the course is usually around $50 and the exam fee is around $25.
Food Handler’s Education and Training
Food handlers’ education and training teaches employees about food safety and proper sanitation practices.
The course is usually around four hours long and covers topics such as foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination, safe food handling practices, and pest control.
After completing the course, employees must pass an exam in order to receive a food handler’s license.
If you plan to serve alcohol, you’ll need a liquor license.
The liquor license cost varies depending on the state where you live but is typically around $1,000.
In order to obtain a liquor license, you’ll need to fill out an application and pass a background check.
You may also need to take a responsible alcohol training course, which covers topics such as alcohol laws, identification of fake IDs, and responsible alcohol service.
The cost of the course is usually around $50.
Other Licenses and Permits
In addition to a catering license, you may also need to obtain other licenses and permits in order to operate your catering business.
For example, you may need a sales tax permit and a zoning permit.
A zoning permit is required if you plan to operate your catering business from a commercial kitchen.
The cost of a zoning permit varies depending on the municipality where you live, but is typically around $100.
To apply for a zoning permit, you’ll need to submit an application and provide proof that your commercial kitchen meets all local health and safety requirements.
Sales Tax Permit
A sales tax permit is required if you plan to sell food or drinks.
The cost of a sales tax permit varies depending on the state where you live, but is typically around $50.
To apply for a sales tax permit, you’ll need to fill out an application
In order to start a catering business, you’ll need a catering license. In addition to the catering license, you need to comply with local health department requirements and obtain other licenses and permits. The process of obtaining the necessary licenses and permits requires some time, but our guide makes the process easier.