How to Get a UK Catering License

Every business in the UK must register with the government before opening. In addition, catering businesses must work with with the Food Standards Agency to make sure that their facilities are compliant with local and national codes.

The agency offers support services to assist food businesses with their start-up process. Their "Safer Food, Better Business" program helps caterers understand regulations and operate safely.

Register with HM Revenue and Customs agency three months before you plan to start operating your business. You can register either as a sole trader, partnership or limited company. This registration process sets up your company as a tax-paying entity, enabling you to pay National Insurance contributions and Value Added Tax (VAT).

Contact your local environmental health service 28 days before you plan to open your business, and register your premises with them. If you will be operating out of your home, you will need to register it as your business location, and if you plan to run your business out of multiple locations, you will need to register each of them separately.

Contact the Food Standards Agency, and familiarise yourself with their regulations and guidelines for food safety. Set up a detailed record-keeping system to track the sources of all of your ingredients and provide information about your production procedures. Be prepared to present this paperwork to representatives of the agency when they inspect your operation.

Prepare a fire safety risk assessment, explaining your fire prevention strategy and detailing the potential risks posed by your establishment. If you will be modifying your kitchen or production facility, contact your local fire authority before you begin construction so they can advise you of possible dangers and help you review your plans.

If you will be serving alcohol, contact your local authority about requirements for appropriate licensing. Learn about the relevant rules and regulations, which may limit the amount of specific drinks that you are permitted to serve.They may also have guidelines concerning the hours when it is permissible to serve alcohol.