If you’re passionate about food and have an entrepreneurial itch, then running a catering business from home might be something you’re thinking about. Creating and selling from the convenience of your home has its perks. However, knowing how to navigate the legal landscape of the food industry will play a crucial role in your business’s success. From licensing and permits to food safety regulations, it’s important you’re legally compliant in every way. 

Is It Legal To Run A Catering Business From Home?

Yes, it’s legal to run a catering business from home. Although, there are a number of compliance measures and regulations you will need to adhere to. That way, you can ensure your catering practices remain legal while you run your venture. We’ll take a look at these in more depth below, but first let’s break down some basics. 

Are There Different Types Of Home Based Catering Businesses? 

The catering industry is multidimensional. There are various different ways to identify as a caterer. Understanding the category your catering business falls under can help you better define what regulations are going to apply to your business.  

Generally, the two main types of caterers are: 

  • Caterers who prepare and sell food directly to the customer 
  • Caterers that prepare food to be distributed through other businesses 

Caterers that sell food that are distributed to other businesses, such as supermarkets might be subject to manufacturing and wholesaling regulations. There’s also factors such as labelling requirements that need to be thought about. 

For the most part, what you sell and who you are selling it to will determine much of the regulations you will need to comply with. It can be a lot of information to digest and sort through! It’s useful to have the help of a legal expert when setting up your home catering business so they can guide you through the regulatory compliance requirements.  

Do You Need A Licence To Run A Catering Business From Home?

Licensing and permits will depend largely on your state and locality. General food safety practices such as labelling, food preparation, equipment use and premise regulations can be found in uniform standards. The main sources for these are primarily the Food Act (or its equivalent) for your state and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). 

In some cases, certain exceptions can apply. We recommend getting yourself familiar with all the standard food practices prior to starting your business- and seeing where your business might be exempt from particular requirements. 

Once you’ve got a good grasp of the standard regulations, you can start researching the more specific legal requirements for your state and local council. As we mentioned before, permits and licensing can be dependent on the type of food you sell as well as your customer base, so it’s important you’ve got a good understanding of your catering business’s goals prior to taking the next steps. 

Your catering premise is also going to play a large role in whether your business is approved. Each state and local council has their own requirements for every home catering premise- do your research and make sure your area is up to par. For some territories, budding home caterers are expected to provide a layout of their catering premise in their application. It’s important you provide all the details necessary if you want your application approved.  

Taking the time to research and carefully note down all your requirements can save the hassle and inconvenience of going back and forth. Alternatively, you can ask a legal expert to help out with all their regulatory compliance matters so you can focus on building your delicious menu.  

How Do I Start My Home Based Catering Business?  

Once you’ve established the kind of catering business you want to run from home and taken note of the relevant regulations, then it’s time to set up your business. 

First, you’ll need to register your business. You can choose to do this as a sole trader or set up a whole company. It really depends on your unique needs and circumstances. It’s good to have a think about matters such as liability, expenses and upkeep when making this decision. If you’re having trouble, it can be handy to talk things through with a legal professional

If you’re thinking of starting up as a sole trader, you can apply for your Australian Business Number (ABN) online and get your business name registered

Setting up a company is a bit more complicated, it requires getting an Australian Company Number (ACN) and ensuring you follow all the regulations determined by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Our expert lawyers can help you set up your company and save you the stress and struggle, talk to us today to know more. 

When you’ve finished all the legal requirements for setting up your business, you’re a lot closer to getting your home catering business running! 

Do I Need Any Qualifications To Run A Catering Business From Home?

There’s no particular qualification you need to hold for preparing food, however there are courses and studies that can help you better understand food safety. As you probably already know, cooking at home and cooking at home in order to run your food business are two entirely different things. Even though you’re at home, there will still be a certain level of quality and control which is always required when you’re offering a service to the wider community. 

Taking the time to study, research and familiarise yourself with the relevant materials can  save you from getting into trouble in the future- you don’t want to make a mistake and jeopardise your home catering business just because you didn’t know something.  

Next Steps

A home catering business can be an exciting way to step into the food industry as a business owner. However, getting all the legal compliance measures right are just as important as your cooking skills if you want your home catering business to be successful. To summarise what we’ve discussed:  

  • A home catering business is a perfectly legal venture, however you need to be legally compliant with the relevant rules and regulations
  • The type of home based catering you do is likely to impact what regulations you need to follow
  • It’s important to register your home catering business as you would any other business
  • There are general food standard practices you will need to follow, but a lot of the regulatory compliance measures such as permits and licencing will be determined by your state and local council 
  • There’s no specific qualification needed to run a home catering business, however it can pay off to have the right knowledge regarding safe industry practices 

If you would like a consultation on starting a catering business from home, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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