Catering and food service business requirements for food and equipment permits are governed by specific laws in many states and countries and the requirements change with the type of business or location. This article is designed to offer information to those individuals wishing to have a food and/or catering service permit.
Generally, there are two types of licenses that are required to open a catering business, one is a temporary permit, which only lasts for a limited amount of time and allows the individual to serve food until a certain time period or until a certain number of customers are served. The other is a permanent, long-term permit, which requires the company to obtain a permanent license, usually for the business to stay in business.
Temporary business license permits are often used when companies or individuals are hosting parties and need to serve meals to their guests. A temporary permit can be used to serve food during a vacation and on a seasonal basis. For example, if a company or individual hosts a barbeque on a patio where no other restaurant is currently operating, a temporary permit can be used to allow the company or individual to use the outdoor area to serve food. For businesses that do not operate on a permanent schedule, a temporary license can also be used to allow them to temporarily serve food to their customers.
On the other hand, permanent business licenses are required for businesses that want to be allowed to cater for special events such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and many other occasions. In order to have a permanent business license, a business must go through a complicated process that involves a number of different departments within the state government, the Department of Health, state tax department and other agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. This process involves a large number of different requirements and licenses that must be obtained before a business can operate legally.
Many catering companies that are willing to start a catering business for personal use often do not go through the process to get a license for food catering. They may start their own catering company and use their own equipment and food while they work their own hours, but often times they fail to pay attention to these licensing requirements and have to shut down the catering company because of the penalties and other costs associated with operating a business under these regulations.
While it may be tempting to try and start a catering business without a license from your state, many food industry experts state that this is not recommended. The licensing laws that are in place in your area are designed to ensure that there are health and safety issues that can be resolved easily should a problem arise in the food industry, not to prevent a company from doing their best for their customers. Customers expect that the food that they will receive at their dining establishments will be cooked properly, that the food has been prepared with care and that they have received all of the information about the ingredients that are used in the food preparation. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in serious penalties being assessed to you and your business.