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Taking Over an Existing Food Business

If you are buying a food business that is already operating, you will need to apply for a food business licence from Council. It is not possible to transfer an existing food business licence to a new owner or operator. The new owner or operator must apply and receive approval for a food business licence before they start trading.

When buying a food business that is already operating, it is recommended you obtain information from Council before the sale is finalised or contracts are signed.

If you want written advice about the business, for a fee you may apply to Council for a:

  • Health Records Search - This will provide the applicant a copy of the last inspection undertaken on the premise. Please note this will not include any compliance matters that may be outstanding.
  • Special Inspection - This will provide the applicant an up to date inspection report on the food premise, including any structural or other defects that require works to be undertaking.

How to apply for a licence

Step 1 - Pre-lodgment meeting

  • Contact one of Council’s Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) to discuss your proposed business.
  • This can assist in the preliminary phase of choosing a suitable property
  • Ensuring there are no additional approvals required like Planning, Building and Plumbing
  • Ensuring you have all the correct information when you do lodge your Food Business Licence Application.

Step 2 - Assessing your Application

This is done in two parts with a structural design assessment and then a Food Business Licence Assessment.

  • Food Business License Assessment

    • This assessment is the final part of your Licence Application, which can take 30 days to assess.
    • The process includes assessing the Licensee is suitable to hold a Food Business Licence and a final inspection of the premise is conducted.
    • The final inspection of the premise is undertaken to ensure that the licensed area complies with the original structural design approval and that all other approvals have been signed off including but not limited to Planning, Building, & Plumbing.
    • Before you can start Operating an Information Notice with a Decision about your Application along with a Food Business Licence is to be issued.

Step 3 - Decision

  • Information Notice with a Decision is issued
  • Food Business Licence is Issued
  • If the premise is not ready or their problems that occur along the way with assessment or final inspections an Extension can be granted in accordance with the Act.

Step 4 - Renewal and Inspections


  • Each year you will be sent out a Food Business Renewal Form & Invoice for the next 12mth licence period, sixty (60) days prior to your expiry date.
  • Your licence will expire at the anniversary of your first approval date.
  • This fee includes your 12-month license and annual inspections of your business.
  • If you do not complete your renewal form and pay the required funds by the expiry date your licence will be cancelled.
  • If you operate after an expiry date without a Current Food Business Licence you are deemed to be operating illegally and Compliance Action will be undertaken.


  • Inspections are carried out by Council Environmental Health Officers and authorised contractors throughout the year.
  • You will generally be inspected at least once a year but often twice or more.
  • If you have regular non-compliance inspections you may be charged for these additional inspections.
  • You are not permitted to refuse an Authorised Officer to enter your premises. An EHO can enter the Licensed Food Premise at any time during normal operating hours as per your Licence Conditions.

Food Safety Program

  • This is required for certain High-Risk Business activities including but not limited to Private Hospitals, Child Care, Aged Care facilities and Catering businesses.
  • Also, if you are a café restaurant or takeaway that undertakes on-site catering for 200 or more people for 12 or more times per year will also be required to hold an Accredited Food Safety Program.

Food Safety Supervisor

  • It is a requirement in Queensland that all Licensable Food businesses have a nominated Food Safety Supervisor. You can nominate this person when you make your licence application.
  • You must provide certification of your Food Safety Supervisor within 30 days of being issued a Food Business Licence.

Water Supply

The Food Safety Standards Requires a Food Business to be supplied with Potable Water for both cleaning and food contact. If the property is not supplied with Council Reticulated Water you will need to provide evidence of how the water is treated and undergo water certified water testing as per your licence conditions.

Other Approvals

You may also need to check that you have other approvals either with the council or through Private Certification. Some areas to check may include Planning, Plumbing, and Building.

NOTE: Council will not issue a Food Business Licence until you have complied with all other required approvals.

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