We live in a food-centered world. If you love good food, and you make even one special dish that people rave about, there is serious money to be made selling your food online.
Just don't forget to get your licenses.
Before you delve into cottage food law to answer your questions about how you get a license to sell food, apply for your permit to sell food from home and get your food vendor license to sell food in farmers' markets and online, there are some other things you will need to consider first.
New Jersey only just started to allow the sale of food made at home. The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico doesn't allow it. Delaware and Rhode Island permit farmers to sell produce but don't allow other kinds of home food sales.
Most states will require you to get a business license. This is required for any kind of business, from home or outside the home, and not just businesses that sell food. It's usually something you get from your city or from your county, although these rules differ from state to state. You will also need to register with your state comptroller's office to collect sales tax. To do this, you will need an EIN from the IRS.
The good news about getting an EIN is that, if you have never done it before, you can fill out all the paperwork online.
Other states have their own quirks in the food licensing laws.
Ohio has no certification requirements for most kinds of home food production but requires pre-certification for selling baked goods from home. South Dakota doesn't require a permit, but does require testing and expects you to display a testing certificate when you sell your homemade food. West Virginia has different rules county by county; consult your county health department.
Once you have made sure you live in a state that permits sales of food made at home, it's time to look into how to get a license to sell food and your food permit application.
Here again, rules vary from state to state.
You may need certifications and health certificates, like passing a food handler's course. Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho (although their laws may be changing), Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Wyoming fall into this category.
For your permit to sell food from home, California has two types of licenses. Class A can sell direct to consumers, but not to resellers. Class B license holders can sell to consumers and resellers. Some California counties don't permit home food producers to ship their products, but others do. This usually has to do with fruit and insect problems.
Your permit to sell food from home in Massachusetts requires a home kitchen inspection. Some counties in Massachusetts require food safety training, but others do not.
Your Texas food permit application only requires taking a food safety course. Ask your local county extension office for details on signing up. Once you have this requirement out of the way, Texas permits you to sell from your home, at farmers' markets, from a roadside stand, and at fundraising events.
There are a few states with a long, complicated, drawn-out process for getting permission to sell food from home.
North Carolina will come out on multiple occasions to make sure no one in your family keeps pets—not even temporarily. Utah requires a business license, a kitchen inspection, food safety training, recipe reviews, and safety testing of all products sold. Virginia's requirements for applications, permits, food safety training, and kitchen inspection can take over a year. The State of Washington requires not only training and inspection but a business plan.
If you are still wondering "Do I need a license to sell food from my home?" There is some good news. There are food operations that do not need permits in some states. There are no food operations that do not need permits in California, but there are lenient requirements in some other states.
Getting a license to sell food you make at home can be a hassle at first. Once you are on the right side of the law, however, your customers will have more confidence that the food you make that tastes so good is also good for them.
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