Food Business permit

A permit is required if you plan to sell food to ensure health and safety standards are met.

You may need to apply for multiple permits including a Planning permit. To find which permits you need and make a single application, or to talk to our Business Concierge, visit the business permits page.

For food business advice, regulations and updates, visit Health Victoria's Food Safety. You should also familiarise yourself with the food premises classes and tobacco reforms.

Food premises classes

There are now four classes of food premises:

  • Class 1- potentially hazardous food served to vulnerable groups such as:
    • hospitals
    • child care centres
    • aged care services.
  • Class 2 - other premises that handle high-risk unpackaged food such as:
    • restaurant
    • cafés.
  • Class 3 - unpackaged low-risk food or high-risk pre-packaged food, or the warehousing or distribution of pre-packaged foods.
  • Class 4 - pre-packaged low-risk foods, and certain other low-risk or occasional activities such as the sale of:
    • shelf stable pre-packaged foods
    • uncut fruit and vegetables
    • some fundraising goods
    • low risk-foods served in kindergartens or child care.

The classification system means that regulatory requirements are better matched to the level of food safety risk associated with the food handling activities at different types of premises.

Class 1 has the highest level of legal requirements, and Class 4 the lowest.

Classes 1, 2 and 3 premises must register with Council. Registration must be renewed annually.

Class 4 premises must provide a once-off notification to Council of their activities.

For more information on the classes including full details, changes and examples, visit Health Victoria's Food Business Classification.

New premises

New premises and those looking at changing their food handling activities should complete the Classification Checklist (DOC 72 KB) prior to starting work, so that Council can determine the classification of the premises.

Class 1 and 2 premises are required to have a food safety program and food safety supervisor.

You also need to submit the proposed premises plans to the Health Services Unit for approval.

More information can be found in the Health Approval kit (DOC 179 KB).

Purchasing an existing premises

If you are taking over an existing class 1, 2 or 3 food premises, you will need to transfer the registration of the premises into your name. This is a requirement of the Victorian Food Act 1984.

To transfer the registration:

  1. Complete an Application for Transfer of Food Act form, based on the classification of the business. This form must be completed by both the new and existing proprietors.
  2. Pay the transfer fee of up to $246, depending on the classification of the business. An invoice can be provided after receival of the completed application form.
  3. Lodge your application:
    Email: healthservicesunit@portphillip.vic.gov.au
    In person: at any of our Customer Service Counters
    Mail: Private Bag 3, PO St Kilda, 3182

Council will conduct a mandatory inspection of the food premises upon receiving the completed application.

When Council is satisfied that all requirements of the Food Act 1984 have been met, we will transfer the registration of the premises into the name of the new proprietor and issue a certificate of registration.

If you are planning to make changes to the premises or the type of food sold, please contact the Business Concierge to discuss your plans, prior to making any changes.

Condition reports

Council's Environmental Health Officers routinely inspect food premises to ensure compliance with food safety standards. A status report of the business can be requested prior to the sale of a business.

Inspections are also conducted on structural, maintenance and cleaning matters with an up-to-date report created. The report will detail non-compliances with the National Food Safety Standards identified on the day of the inspection.

The current registered proprietor will need to complete an Application for Pre-Transfer Inspection (DOCX 38 KB). There is a fee is $245 (Class 2) and $167 (Class 1 and Class 3).

The report can only be issued to the current proprietor and is provided in PDF format for distribution to potential purchasers.

Please allow one week for the inspection and report to be completed.

Making changes

It is recommended that businesses contact the Business Concierge prior to making any changes, whether it be structural or to the types of food you handle.

Changing the types of food you handle in your business may change the classification of your premises and consequently the regulatory requirements.

Depending on the type of business and the changes you are making, you may also require Planning and Building permits. It is the applicants responsibility to ensure all appropriate permits have been sought.