The license required for mobile catering

Written by christine lebednik
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The license required for mobile catering
Sound advice for a mobile food catering business in the UK. (Getty Thinkstock)

In order to join the ever popular "street food" movement in the UK, a street vendor needs to have a license in accordance with their local council and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). A definition of the type of licensing needed for a mobile catering business can only be given in general terms, because the type of license required varies with the locality.

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Before opening your mobile catering business you will need to get in touch with your local council authority for a license (see the resources section for the find your local authority tool). This will allow for registration, waste and recycling management and help for organising your business.


You must register your premises with the environmental health service at your local authority at least 28 days before opening. The registration process is free but if you have more than one van or stall you will need to register each of them. You will need to fill out a form which will be available from your local authority or FSA (see resources).

The law and the checklist

If you have employees then you must have employers liability insurance, and display the certificate in the place of work and these employees must be trained if they have contact with the food. If you employ more than 5 people you must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment. You must also draw up and maintain a documented food hygiene management system based on the principles of hazard analysis & critical control points (HACCP).

Ask yourself the following questions: Have you registered your premises? Do the design and construction of your premises meet legal requirement? Are you aware of the main General Food Law Requirements? Do you keep written records of all the suppliers that provide you with food or any food ingredients? Have you put food safety management procedures in place and are you keeping up-to-date records of these? Do you and your staff understand the principles of good food hygiene? Have you considered health and safety and fire safety arrangements? Have you registered as self-employed? Do you need to register for VAT? Are you keeping records of all your business income and expenses? Are you keeping records of your employees’ pay and do you know how to pay their tax and National Insurance contributions? Do you describe food and drink accurately? Do you need to apply for a licence to sell alcohol, for entertainment, for selling hot food and drink late at night, or selling food on the street?

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