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Do I Need a License to Sell Homemade Food?

Today it's easier than ever to start your own homemade food business. You've seen others online and at farmer's markets doing it. But you probably have a few questions. 

Do you need a permit to sell food from home? How much is a food service license? Maybe you're wondering, "do I need a food permit to sell coffee?" Or do you need a permit to give away free food? 

The answer typically varies from state to state. The bottom line is that selling home-cooked food to the public requires planning and adherence to state guidelines. So one of the first things you'll want to do is check the cottage food laws in your state. 

Cottage food laws apply to food items that you can legally cook, bake, or sell as prepared food to the general public. If you follow the cottage food guidelines, you won't need a commercial kitchen or much of the same licensing that restaurants require.

Most states consider baked goods, preserved foods, dry foods, candies, and coffee to be cottage foods. Additionally, you'll find that most states restrict temperature-controlled foods because they can potentially make people sick if not handled properly. 

Some states make it easy to start a cottage food business and don't require licenses or permits. If you live in a state that requires a permit, it usually involves a basic application and a food safety course that you can take online. There may also be a walkthrough inspection to ensure your kitchen is safe for food production.

Are you asking yourself, "do I need a license to sell homemade food?" The bottom line is that each state has the primary authority to create laws that govern whether or not you need a license to sell homemade food. Still, many state food safety laws are similar.

Do You Need a License to Sell Baked Goods From Home?

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home? In most states, you will need a permit or license to sell baked goods from home. For example, when you search, "do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in California," you'll find you need a county health department permit. 

Similarly, you may ask, do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in PA? Yes, if you want to sell baked goods such as:

What's more, there are additional regulations for custards and other baked goods that contain specific ingredients.

You'll need to fill out a PA application for a limited food establishment to get started. Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in NY? Check with the State Department of Health for detailed requirements. Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Florida? Use this quick reference guide to get all the details.

Truthfully, applying for a baking license for at home business is typically a short process that's worth doing. The process will give you peace of mind. And you will learn how to guarantee your customers' safety.

Food Operations That Do Not Need Permits

Recently, a few states enacted laws to help the growth of home-based food businesses. Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Montana, and Oklahoma all currently have food freedom laws that allow for food operations that do not need permits. What this means for home businesses is that they can sell homemade food without a permit as long as it doesn't contain meat.

Canned, pickled, and refrigerated goods don't need permits. So if you're wondering, "do I need a license to sell food from my home," you may only need a standard business license in select states. However, if you're looking for food operations that do not need permits in California, you'll quickly see that you need one of two permits.

California requires a department of health food permit, and you must take the food processor training course for cottage businesses. Similarly, if you're looking for food operations that do not need permits in NC, you'll find that you need to fill out an application, and your kitchen must pass inspection.

In contrast, you'll find cottage food operations that do not need permits in Florida, including bread, biscuits, flavored popcorn, and flavored vinegar. And the state doesn't inspect your kitchen. But you can't sell more than $15,000 a year without moving production to a commercial kitchen, and you can't sell over the internet.

The penalty for selling food without a permit is typically a fine that will be more costly if you also don't have a business license—not to mention the implications of unpaid taxes. Also, you may run the risk of the state shutting down your homemade food business. Finally, you don't want to make people sick. If you follow the rules, you'll learn how to protect your customers and your business.

How to Get a License to Sell Food

Today farmers, chefs, and other food vendors sell from mobile kiosks, trucks, and stands. Having a food vendor's license means you can sell prepared foods at street fairs, farmer's markets, and in popular areas. 

So, what is the process for getting a cottage food license? Although it varies from state to state and internationally, a food vendor's license generally requires a few basic steps. For example, if you're wondering how to get a license to sell food in Washington state, you will need to complete an application and attachment several items, including:

How to get a food vendor license most always includes an application, classes, and potential inspection. Also, regardless of the food laws, all businesses need a business license. 

The same holds for how to apply for street vendor license. Ultimately, how to get a permit to sell food from home or how to get a permit to sell food on the street are similar processes. Like licensing your home kitchen, a food vendors license for street fairs and farmer's markets ensures that your products are safe for the public.

Cottage Food Law

Each state's public health department is the place to learn more about its cottage food law and regulations. Additionally, you'll find information on the state's agriculture website. For example, You'll find the Florida cottage food law 2020 on the state's Department of Agriculture website

In Florida, unlicensed home kitchens can produce certain foods for sale as long as there's a low risk of foodborne illness. So you can sell your homemade food and products directly to consumers. And you don't need a food permit. However, the gross sales of cottage foods must not exceed $50,000 per year.

If you wonder, "do I need a license to sell homemade food in California," the short answer is yes. The California homemade food act in 2013 open the door for selling food from home California 2021. However, California's 2021 cottage food bill – AB 1144 would significantly ease regulations on homemade food businesses.

Among other things, the bill would: 

Currently, applying for a cottage food license California is becoming easier as new laws pass. Soon selling food from home Los Angeles will be more accessible and profitable.

Texas cottage food law 2020 and 2021 hasn't changed much since 2019. The state provides clear-cut rules on Texas cottage food law shipping. There's even a cookbook full of Texas cottage food law recipes to use.

If you're starting your business in New York, you'll find information on cottage food law NY on the state's website. Additionally, New York provides a home processor exemption that allows an exemption from Article 20-C licensing for homemade food for wholesale or retail sale at agricultural settings, including:

What's more, you can't sell outside of New York State. Plus, you must prepackage the food and label it according to guidelines.

Whether you want to know about cottage food law Michigan, how to get a food vendor license Arizona, or the details on selling food from home in Texas, the two best sources are your state's agriculture and public health department websites. 

You can also find websites that list cottage food laws by state to give you a brief outline of what you need to do to run your homemade food business. Either way, you will need to get the necessary paperwork from an official .gov website.

Now, if you're wondering how to get around cottage food laws, you're not thinking long-term.

Selling Homemade Food Online

Maybe you're wondering, "can I sell homemade food online?" In many cases, the answer is yes. You can sell homemade food online. 

Even better? There are tools, such as Shopify and other eCommerce sites, that can help sellers market their products. Additionally, a time and information management system can keep your business processes run smoothly and improve your market position.

For example, integrate Microsoft Dynamics with your e-commerce system. Then, you can display product and logistics data in your web store, such as current and future inventory levels, to help meet buyer demands. 

Consider too that internationally, online food sales are a booming business. So whether you're thinking about selling homemade food online Singapore, selling homemade food online Canada, or selling homemade food online Philippines, you have lots of options. 

eCommerce requires eye-catching package design, professional photography, and a user-friendly website, and product pages. You can hire writers and designers to get set up. Or do it yourself.

But, again, there are regulations, even on selling homemade food online. So you'll want to make sure your products fall within rules before you start using all of the online tools available to you to market, print labels, and sell your products online.

Additional Resources

Cottage Food Law Michigan | Cottage Food Law Wisconsin | Cottage Food Laws Florida | Cottage Food License | Cottage Food Sales Tax | Cottage Industry Laws | Home Food Laws | Laws About Selling Homemade Food | Laws on Selling Food From Home | License to Cook and Sell Food From Home | Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations | Permit to Sell Food From Home | Permit to Sell Food From Home California | Rules for Selling Food From Home

Learn about cottage food laws, licensing and permitting requirements, and how you can start selling your homemade food online.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!

Amanda McMonigle

The Whimsical Cookie


Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.

Kim Sims

Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets


Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company


Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats


I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha


I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.

Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.

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