Do I need a license to sell food from my home

Posted by Damian Roberti on

Do I need a license to sell food from my home? This is a great question, and it's one of our subscriber questions, and this is about marketing food online, and we are going to dive into what you need to do to get a license to sell food from your home, and we're going to do that right now. All right, so welcome back to Marketing Food Online. It is Damian, and this is going to be all about licenses and selling food from home. We had a great question from one of our subscribers. I wanted to dive into this question because a lot of people are now opening and starting home-based food businesses, which, believe it or not, probably about 80 to 90% of all food businesses have actually started in somebody's kitchen. So it is a great place to definitely do that, but when you are dealing with home-based food businesses, what you will fall under are cottage food laws.

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These are laws that are separate from different commercial requirements to sell food, produce food, manufacture food, and so on. Now, in every single state, here's where it gets a little bit tricky, because the question was, do I need a license to sell food from my home? In some states, you do, and believe it or not, in some states, you actually don't. So you need to check specifically with your state's cottage food laws and, believe it or not, here on Marketing Food Online too, you can definitely check our channel out. We'll have some links down below this one for almost every state.

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We have videos on cottage food laws, so that way you can check to see what your requirements are. So as far as needing a license, some states will require business licenses, permits, and other types of necessities for those types of things in the galleries. That's going to be dependent on the city and the actual county you live in. The state has a requirement at the state level, but one thing a lot of people don't know is that as it trickles down to the local municipalities, like your city in your county, the area that you live in, those are going to be the ones who are going to dictate whether they require a business license, whether they require permits. And in some cases, they may require other types of proof of business, such as insurance or food business policies, that type of thing. Now, keep this in mind too, though.

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Even though we're talking about the need for a license or not, make sure that if you live in a neighborhood that has an HOA, a homeowners association, you need to verify with them whether they even allow it. Because even within your neighborhood, now, the city and county are one thing, but in your neighborhood, if they do not allow such businesses, guess what, you are going to be out of luck. Even though the city and county say, "hey you know what, Damian, that's fine, you can definitely do it.

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Go ahead and start your business. You don't need to have a permit, whatever the requirements are." But if the homeowners association says, "Look, we just don't have it within the rules and regulations of the HOA, we can't allow you to operate a food business from home." So you'd even need to check on that as well. So the first thing you want to do is to check your state. If you don't find that video within our YouTube catalog, which we have over a thousand of, we have over a thousand videos on food entrepreneurship. If you don't find it there, go to Google and type in "cottage food laws" and the name of your state. Start there, okay? And then you want to click on the state government website. That's normally the first or second search result that you'll find on Google, okay?


And then from there, you can check and see, hey, do I need to have a license in order to sell food from my home? And if it says no, okay, great. The next step is to check with your city or county. Well, how do I do that, Damian? So if you live in, let's say, Los Angeles, and you want to find out specifically if LA allows you to do that, you would call the local business development office in Los Angeles, this county of Los Angeles, or the city of Los Angeles, even. And then, that way, you could find out specifically from the city or county, if it's required that you have it. Another quick tip: this is something to help protect you from the legalities of the situation. If a local city or county doesn't require it, I highly recommend that you create an LLC and incorporate your home-based business.


Even though they say, you know what, you don't necessarily need to do it or not because there is a level of protection that comes with operating a business under a limited liability corporation. When you file a business under an LLC and you incorporate yourself, you're going to protect your business from your personal life, okay? Because here's what could potentially happen with food: it's a little tricky. It's a product that can be consumed. If someone has an allergic reaction or someone gets sick or something's not cooked properly, or even made or baked properly, and someone gets ill, you open yourself up to potential liability or a lawsuit, okay? But if you create a business from home, even though you answered the question, "No, I don't need a license to sell food from my home, but I'm going to go ahead and incorporate and get a food business insurance policy.""

That's going to protect you, so you don't lose your house. You don't lose your car and basically everything you own, because potentially, that does happen, believe it or not. So check to see if you need a license to sell food from my home in your city and county. And then from there, I personally would take it a step further and protect your whole base food business, okay? Don't risk it. Get yourself an LLC, and as a matter of fact, there are even some links down below this video. You can even create an LLC online in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes. There's one specific company that we love; it's Incfile, I believe it is. You can actually incorporate for $0, plus only your state fee and filing, which is kind of cool. So check that out and to answer that question, Thank you so much for asking, so do I need a license to sell food from my home?

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We appreciate it, and if you've got any questions like this about your business or starting a food business, let us know in the comments section and we'll definitely get to your question and answer it as soon as possible. And I'll see you guys in our next video. Thanks for watching Marketing Food Online. And if you are looking to create your own food truck, start a home-based food business under the cottage food law, franchise a food operation, start a packaged food business, private label your own food products, sell on Amazon, get your own online store, or sell food online, Remember to subscribe and check out these videos for more.