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How to Legally Sell Food From Home

Every day, more and more Americans are saying they are done with the traditional job and working for someone else. They are saying "yes" to working for themselves and choosing to become self-sufficient by starting their own business or otherwise taking their favorite hobby or interest and making it profitable. One such popular avenue towards financial independence is with a home-based food business.

If you love baking or making snacks and popular food items, then learning how to make money selling food from home might very well be right up your alley. Selling homemade food online is something the talented chef or baker can get started on pretty quickly... so long as they are passionate and ready to learn and follow the applicable cottage food law in their area.

Yes, just like any business, you will find that there are rules on selling food from home. These rules are collectively known as cottage food laws. The term "cottage food" refers to any food products that are made within one's home or grown in one's garden and then sold to the public. Learning how to legally sell food from home underneath these laws is fairly easy in most jurisdictions as they mostly have to do about keeping one's kitchen clean and sanitary and ensuring that the consumers, who you are selling to, are safe.

While you will find that there are some food operations that do not need permits, most of these involve foods in which you make next to no changes. Such as selling fresh produce or selling a bag of mixed nuts. The bad news is that while these ready-to-go foods are easy food to sell to make money, they aren't always going to get you the best return. If you are looking for big profits, you want to look at prepared foods that can be sourced from cheap ingredients but sold with a good markup. Good examples of these include baked goods and sauces; both of which will require you to go through the permitting process.

Now, what that permitting process will look like will depend on the state you live in as well as the city and county. Generally, big cities will have the strictest rules on what can and can't be sold, to whom, and in what type of kitchen set up, and more rural and suburban areas will tend to have more relaxed laws. That said, thanks to a surge of home-based kitchens and operations, more and more areas are passing exacting new laws more amiable to cottage food entrepreneurs.

Do You Need a Permit to Sell Food From Home?

The answer to the questions of do I need a permit to sell food from home and do you need a license to sell baked goods from home are going to be almost always yes. Remember the above rule of thumb: If you are selling foods that you largely did not put together, you are less likely to need a permit and license to sell foods than if you are selling something you made or created.

That said, for the real answer for permitting and to prevent yourself from suffering a fine for selling food from home, you will need to go to your city, county, or state health department website and check their regulations. Your city website should have a section dedicated specifically to local businesses and within that section, something for home-based businesses, including home-based food businesses.

Getting a permit and license generally isn't a hard process, although sometimes it will take a few weeks for the application to go through. Many states and cities will have two types of permits for home-based businesses that will depend upon who you plan to sell to or where and that will change what will be involved in the permitting process. For example, selling food in California directly to buyers at community events means you won't have to get your kitchen inspected during the permit process. But if you want a permit that will allow you to sell to third parties like your local natural food store, you will need to apply for a different permit that will include a kitchen inspection.

While you may wish that the answer to do I need a license to sell food from my home in Florida was a no to make things simpler, the truth is that being able to show your buyers that you have a government-approved license or permit will help you. Licenses, permits, and proof of finishing food safety courses give you an air of authority. Customers are more likely to trust someone who has gone through the entire legal process of selling food from home Illinois than someone who has no certification at all.

How to Get a Permit to Sell Food From Home

The first step is to decide to get a permit for selling baked goods from home and the next step is learning exactly how to get license to sell food and learn how to get a permit to sell food from home. Generally, this process is pretty straightforward.

First, you must decide on a business name or you must choose to sell food underneath just your full name. Then you will generally need to apply for a business tax ID number through which you can submit the necessary state and federal taxes at the end of the financial year (even a home bakery license Texas will require a tax identification number and you may risk tax penalties as well as another more specific penalty for selling food without a permit).

The next step requires going to your city and county website and downloading the relevant permit and license application. This application will typically ask you for detailed information for your proposed home-based food business. This includes information about what you want to sell and where you are going to bake, cook, or otherwise prepare that cottage food. Some cities and states will also have you submit label templates for the foods you plan to sell. Florida, for example, is a state that will require you to submit detailed labeling for each of your products during the permitting process. If you plan on adding a new product, you will have to submit the new product for review afterward.

Depending upon what you plan on selling and where you want to sell it, you may have to schedule a kitchen inspection prior to your official approval to sell foods from home. You should also expect to be required to complete at least one food safety course before you can officially begin to sell your goods online or in person.

Cottage Food Laws By State

There is no one federal law regulating home-based food businesses and instead, you will find different cottage food laws by state and city. The following is a look at some of the biggest states with cottage food laws.

Cottage Food Law Illinois

Operating a home-based food business under home kitchen operation law Illinois used to be incredibly hard. Due to a lot of regulations coming out of the capital and due to the sheer size of trying to regulate Chicago cottage food law, many people simply could not get a good start. That all changed in 2021 and coming January even selling food from home Chicago has become a lot easier. Illinois cottage food law now makes it easy for homemade food producers to obtain a license to sell food from home in Illinois and those approved by a cottage food license application Illinois will be able to sell across town lines.

Cottage Food Law Florida

Selling food from home in Florida has become incredibly popular for a variety of reasons including, but not limited, to the state's year-round growing season and favorable tax and business-friendly environment. So if you live in Florida and you want to make some money, then you might consider applying for a permit to sell food from home Florida and start selling food from home in Florida.

Which, wile there are some food operations that do not need permits in Florida, generally your answer to things like do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Florida. There are also some things to look at before you get started, like the Florida cottage food law shipping and making sure you understand the cottage food law Florida sales tax.

Cottage Food Law California

Selling food from home California 2021 has become easier than in previous years, with more counties accepting even more permit to sell food from home California. Yes, the answer to do I need a license to sell homemade food in California and do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in California is absolutely, but the process is pretty easy. Especially if you plan on selling directly to your buyers.

Direct sellers need only a Class A permit which doesn't require a kitchen inspection. A Class A permit is also needed for when you ask do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in California. If you want to sell those baked goods to a cafe that will sell to consumers for you, you will need a Class B permit and a kitchen inspection.

Cottage Food Law Texas

Have you been asking, can I sell food from my home in Texas without a license? Well, Texas isn't quite the wild west anymore in terms of anything goes with the laws. You can expect to face a penalty for selling food without a license in Texas. The good news is that starting a home-based food business Texas is fairly straightforward and you can learn how to sell tamales legally in Texas within just a few weeks. You simply need to fill out the permit to sell food from home Texas. This is true if you're looking for do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Texas as well as if you're looking to sell jerky and spices from your Texas home kitchen.

Can you sell homemade food? We explore cottage food laws and other rules around selling food from your home. Learn more about this growing industry here!

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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