Licensing a Home-Based Food Establishment

Health Department regulations allow small home-based businesses to operate in a primary residence using standard home equipment. Home-based businesses include home bakeries and home caterers. Applicants planning to operate a home food establishment must submit the following at least 30 days prior to the anticipated opening date:

Once your application is processed, a public health inspector will contact you to discuss your plans and schedule an inspection. Review the Health Regulations for Food Service Establishments before your inspection.

You are responsible for contacting additional state and local entities for compliance with applicable regulations or policies for your business. Always check with your town clerk’s office for local requirements.

  • Register your business name with the Secretary of State.
  • Apply for a business tax account and a license to collect and pay applicable taxes at the Department of Taxes.
  • Contact the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets for information relating to the sale of maple syrup, meat or dairy products.
  • Contact the Department of Environmental Conservation, which issues wastewater permits for new construction or for increased seating capacity
  • Contact the Department of Public Safety Fire Safety and Electrical Program, which inspects public buildings for fire and safety hazards, and the Plumbing Program, which inspects plumbing for compliance with state rules
  • Submit recent laboratory tests for coliform/E. coli and nitrates (establishments on private water systems only) from the Health Department Lab or other laboratory that is certified for drinking water analysis. Find a list of certified labs here.

There is a licensing exemption for occasional food preparation. Home bakeries producing baked goods with gross receipts of less than $6,500 per year are exempt from required licensing if selling directly to consumers.

Ensuring your home-prepared food is safe to the consumer is critical to the success of your small business. Food should be prepared at times when there are no other activities in the kitchen. Small children or pets should not be allowed into the kitchen during food preparation and packaging for sale. Preparing products for sale while making a meal or doing other activities increases the likelihood for cross-contamination.

Contact Information

Food & Lodging Program
108 Cherry St., PO Box 70 
Burlington, VT 05402-0070    
Phone: (802) 863-7221 or
(800) 439-8550 (toll-free within VT)
Fax: (802) 863-7483

Use this Public Health Inspector District Map to find contact details for the inspector in your area.