Starting a food business

Opening a new a food business can be daunting, whether or not you are doing it for the first time.

Our advice and information can help you navigate the process and let you know what is legally required.

For detailed guidance, visit the Food Standards Agency website.

On this page:


All food businesses operating in the New Forest are legally required to register the business. You should do this 28 days before starting to trade.

There is no fee for registration.

You can register your food business using the online form below.


If your food business makes, prepares or handles meat, dairy, egg, fish, shellfish or other animal produce for supply to other businesses, you may need to be approved rather than registered.  More information on whether you need approval for your food activity or are exempt is available at the food standards agency approvals page .  

You cannot supply food items which require approval to produce until the approval process is completed.

Food safety and hygiene requirements

You should be aware of what the law requires of you as a food business operator.

Visit the Food Standards Agency website for information on setting up a food business  food safety management.

You can seek advice from us before starting any work on your food business. We will give advice regarding:

  • design of catering premises
  • correct food handling techniques
  • food hygiene training
  • documented food safety management procedures.

Find out more about food safety for businesses.

We also provide general information on health and safety for businesses.

Planning permission

The use of any premises (including domestic homes) for food business purposes may be construed as a change of use. You are advised to seek the views of our .

Find out more about .

You may also need to pay business rates.

Trading Standards

Hampshire County Council Trading Standards can offer assistance on legal requirements in relation to labelling of products, including declared weights and product claims.

For more information, contact your local Trading Standards team.


If you intend to sell alcohol or provide any form of public entertainment, you may require a licence.

For more information, contact Licensing Services by calling 023 8028 5505 or by email to

Mobile catering

If you own a mobile catering unit such as a burger van or ice cream van, you must have the landowner's permission before you attempt to trade in any location. This includes in lay-bys or on any road.

There are some bye-laws which mean you cannot trade in certain locations in the New Forest. These include the A31 between Cadnam and Ringwood., and the following streets and footways of Lymington: 

  • High Street
  • St. Thomas Street
  • Queen Street
  • St. Thomas Park
  • Part of Southampton Road (junction with Avenue Road to the junction with Standford Hill and Queen Street)
  • Avenue Road
  • East Hill
  • Gosport Street
  • New Street
  • Brunswick Place
  • Emsworth Road
  • Barfields
  • School Lane
  • Cannon Street.

Contact details

You can contact us for advice on starting your food business using the details below.


Phone: 02380 285411

Food and Safety Team
New Forest District Council
Appletree Court
Beaulieu Road
SO43 7PA

Our office hours are:

Monday to Thursday: 8.45am to 5.15pm

Friday: 8.45am to 4.45pm

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