Opening your own ice cream business can be a profitable and delicious venture. But before getting sidetracked experimenting with flavours such as mango sticky-rice sorbet, you need to make sure your ice cream business complies with the legal requirements.

Are you wanting to invest in an existing franchise or open your ice cream parlor from scratch? Are you familiar with the license application process to operate your ice-creamery? Do you know at which stage you can begin your fit out? How many employees will assist you in delivering your Willy Wonka-inspired creations to the masses?

Fortunately, our team of commercial lawyers/ice-cream aficionados have a wealth of experience in this area and are best positioned to advise you on the process, and volunteer their taste-testing services.

A Sole Trader or a Franchise?

Your first step is to consider whether you want to invest in an existing, successful franchise such as Royal Copenhagen. Or, are you seeking to open your own, independent ice cream business to rival the likes of Messina and Cow and Moon?

The benefits of purchasing a franchise include using a tested model to launch your ice cream business and being able to build upon an existing brand and its goodwill. There are also disadvantages to buying a franchise such as the initially high start up expenses and the strict administrative requirements for record keeping. The reputation of the other franchises can also affect your sales. These are all important considerations, and our franchise lawyers are well placed to advise you on the best business structure for your circumstances.

Applying for a Licence for Your Ice Cream business

Once you have decided on the business structure for your ice-creamery, the first step is to apply for a licence with your local council. You will need to determine your food business classification for the proper licensing. The NSW Food Authority classifies ‘ice-cream and ice-cream mix’ as ‘dairy processing.’ Dairy processing businesses need to complete the license application form for a ‘food premises to to produce, process or store dairy products.’ You cannot commence operations until the Council informs you that your licence application has been processed.

The Council can reject your license application if the result of the audit or inspection is unacceptable. They will then write to you within 10 working days of receiving your licence application to let you know whether any further information is required. You will need to pay a licence fee, and this is calculated based on the number of full-time equivalent food-handlers involved in the food handling process. You can demonstrate your compliance with the necessary legal requirements by requesting a Food Safety Certificate to show to suppliers and customers.

Prior to the approval of your licence, a licensing audit or inspection will be carried out to ensure compliance with the Food Standards Code. The Code sets out the specific requirements for food business and food handlers that ensure food does not become unsafe or unsuitable. It requires anyone handling food to have skills and knowledge in food safety and hygiene and your ice-cream business when displaying the product, to take all practicable measures to protect your ice-cream for the likelihood of contamination.

Commercial Leases

Next, the space you choose to operate your ice cream business is important. Are you looking at converting a warehouse in the CBD, or a beachside kiosk? Either way, you will need to understand the terms of your commercial lease. The lease will outline the frequency in which you will pay rent and may include a right to renew clause. You must also describe the purposes for using the premises. Your commercial lease will include two key dates which you will need to be aware of:

  • The Handover date is the date when you can start the fit out of the premises; and
  • The Lease Commencement Date is when the lease will actually commence, and you will be required to pay rent.


Once you have secured the location, your mind will turn to how many staff you require. Whether it is 2 or 12, you need to make sure they undergo the proper training for your workplace. It is a legal requirement in Australia that all employees who handle food be trained in food safety. An employee manual or handbook that is accessible online and onsite is a sensible option.


It is essential that your ice-cream business complies with these legal requirements. Whether you require assistance deciding on a business structure through which to operate your ice-creamery, applying for the necessary license, reviewing your commercial lease or creating employment agreements for your employees and an employee handbook, our lawyers can assist. If you have any questions, please call LegalVision on 1300 544 755 and talk to us about how we can best help you.

Claudette Yazbek
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