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What Licence Do I Need to Operate a Food Stall?

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So, you have mastered your chocolate-chip cookie recipe and you want to test the waters with your food business at a local market. What next? Before you set up your food stall, you will need to contact your local council to work out whether you need to apply for a licence or permit. You should also familiarise yourself with Australian food safety standards. This article will explain the legal obligations you should be aware of before deciding to set up a market stall selling food.

Make Sure You Understand Your Local Government and Council Requirements

The type of licence or permit you will need to sell food at a food stall depends on the state or territory you are in. Local governments and councils have varying regulations. Accordingly, make sure you contact your local council early on in the process to gather the relevant information.  

Temporary Food Stall Licence

It is likely that you will require a temporary food stall licence from your local council, which will last for a set period of time. It is essential you locate the appropriate application form well in advance to when you wish to set up your stall, as a waiting period often applies. 

For example, the City of Sydney requires you to complete a temporary food stall application form at least 28 days before you start trading. 

An inspection fee is also payable when the council inspects your stall.

For example, the City of Sydney charges an annual fee of $218 per year for high-risk stalls and $156 for low-risk stalls. 

High-risk food is anything that has the potential to spoil and be hazardous to health. This type of food usually requires temperature control, including meat, dairy products, seafood, cooked pasta and rice, and processed fruit and vegetables. Low-risk food includes dried foods, sauces and condiments, biscuits, crackers, plain bread and confectionery. 

If your application is successful, the licence will specify how long it lasts. The duration of the licence might depend on what you intend to sell.

If you receive a licence or permit, you must display your approval certificate at your stall at all times. The council is likely to give you an approval number that you will need to provide to market organisers. You should be prepared for your local council to conduct inspections to make sure you are complying with food safety standards. 

It is important you also make sure you contact the organisers of the event where you will hold your stall. You will need to get their approval as well. You should contact them well in advance of your trading date. 

Is This the Only Licence I Need?

If your stall encroaches over a footpath, you may need a footpath usage or obstruction permit from your local council. Check with the event organiser to find out whether they will apply for you or whether you need to apply yourself. 

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Food Standards Code

You will need to:

  • make sure the products you have for sale comply with food safety standards; and
  • pass any inspections the local council might carry out.

Therefore, you should familiarise yourself with:

  • the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code; and
  • your local food safety regulations.

The Food Standards Code includes a number of safety standards, including the Food Safety Standards. You must comply with these standards to ensure you are providing safe food to the public. The standards relate to handling, storing, displaying, packaging and disposing of food. They address considerations such as how you manage: 

  • temperature control of high-risk foods;
  • protecting food from contamination; 
  • disposing of spoiled food appropriately; and
  • cleaning, sanitising and maintenance of food contact surfaces and utensils.

Food Safety Regulations

You should make sure you review the relevant regulations for your state or territory, as obligations differ based on where you are located. 


Most councils are likely to require you to have evidence of a current and satisfactorily completed Food Safety Inspection for Off-Site Food Preparation and Storage. The council itself may do the inspection or your relevant state or territory food authority might provide this service.

Trade Measurement Laws

If you will sell food based on weight, length or volume, trade measurement laws govern how you measure and label these goods. This is to ensure consistency and make it fair for consumers. The requirements might depend on the kind and quantity of food you are providing at your stall. 

Other Considerations

As part of your obligations to comply with food safety standards, you will need to check with the event organisers to ensure you have access to running water. You will also need to work out where your closest bathroom is and where you are able to dispose of food waste. 


It is a good idea to take out insurance for your stall in case anything goes wrong. Some event organisers might even require that you have insurance.

For example, the types of insurance you should consider include: 

  • public liability;
  • product liability; and 
  • professional indemnity insurance. 

Check with your insurance provider to see if they can offer you the right insurance product. This is sometimes known as ‘Market Trading Insurance’. 

Key Takeaways

If you are thinking about setting up a stall selling food, you will need to make sure you are complying with your local council’s requirements and are aware of your obligations under the Food Standards Code and your state or territory’s regulations. You should make any applications for temporary food stall licences or footpath usage permits as soon as possible and enquire with your local event organiser well in advance of when you wish to start trading. If you would like to learn more about your legal obligations as a food stall operator, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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Sophie Pemberton

Sophie Pemberton


Sophie is a Lawyer with the Intellectual Property (Trade Marks) team at LegalVision. She completed her Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Australia and her Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. She was admitted to practice as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 2018 and is on the register of practitioners of the High Court of Australia.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Laws (Hons), Bachelor of Arts, University of Western Australia, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, College of Law. 

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