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Starting a food business

This page will help you to navigate the process of opening a new food business, including information about what is legally required.

For detailed guidance, visit the Food Standards Agency website.

On this page:

1. Registration

All food businesses operating in the New Forest are legally required to register the business. You should do this 28 days before starting to trade.

There is no fee for registration.

You can register your food business using the online form below.


If your food business makes, prepares or handles meat, dairy, egg, fish, shellfish or other animal produce for supply to other businesses, you may need to be approved rather than registered.  More information on whether you need approval for your food activity or are exempt is available at the food standards agency approvals page .  

If you consider that you require approval please complete the approval application form (Word doc) [60KB]  and email it to us at Otherwise, register as above.

2. Food safety and hygiene requirements

You should be aware of what the law requires of you as a food business operator.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for information on setting up a food business and food safety management.

You can also seek advice from us before starting any work on your food business. We will give advice regarding:

  • design of catering premises
  • correct food handling techniques
  • food hygiene training
  • documented food safety management procedures

In addition, you must ensure that consideration is given to the safe operation of your business. See our page on health and safety for businesses.

3. Planning permission

The use of any premises (including domestic homes) for food business purposes may be construed as a change of use. You are advised to contact with any queries before you begin trading.  

You may also need to pay business rates.

4. Trading Standards

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards can offer assistance on legal requirements in relation to labelling of products, including declared weights and product claims.

For more information, contact your local Trading Standards team.

5. Licensing

If you intend to sell alcohol or provide any form of public entertainment, you may require a licence.

For more information, contact Licensing Services by calling 023 8028 5505 or by email to

6. Mobile catering

Please see National Guidance for Outside and Mobile Catering which contains useful information on how to comply with food law, as well as providing advice on best practice. 

If you own a mobile catering unit such as a burger van or ice cream van, you must have the landowner's permission before you attempt to trade in any location. This includes in lay-bys or on any road.

Local bye-laws mean you cannot trade in certain locations in the New Forest. These include the A31 between Cadnam and Ringwood., and the following streets and footways of Lymington: High Street, St. Thomas Street, Queen Street, St. Thomas Park, Avenue Road, East Hill, Gosport Street, New Street, Brunswick Place, Emsworth Road, Barfields, School Lane, Cannon Street, and part of Southampton Road (junction with Avenue Road to the junction with Standford Hill and Queen Street).

Contact us

You can contact us for advice on starting your food business at, or telephone: 023 8028 5411.

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