Starting a bakery can be a delicious and profitable endeavor, but it’s important to ensure you have all the proper licenses and permits before you open your doors.
Explore the most common licenses and permits required for bakery owners and the steps to obtain them.
Importance of Obtaining the Proper Bakery License and Permits
You need to obtain the proper licenses and permits since most baked goods are considered food products. This means they are subject to food safety and handling regulations.
Additionally, your bakery will likely need to comply with local zoning laws and have a fire department permit. By ensuring you have all the necessary licenses and permits in place, you can help avoid any legal issues down the road.
Plus, permits are how cities, counties, and states collect taxes. Therefore, you could be subject to hefty fines if you don’t have the proper permits.
Bakery Business License
To start a bakery, you must obtain a business license from your local municipality. You can get one through the clerk’s office or the business licensing department. The cost of a business license can vary depending on your location, so check with your local licensing authority for the exact fee.
In addition to a business license, you may also need to obtain a special bakery license from your state or local health department. This license is usually required if you plan on selling baked goods that are considered “potentially hazardous,” such as cream pies or custard-filled pastries. To get a bakery license, you will likely need to pass a food safety inspection and have your bakery meet certain sanitary standards.
Sales Permit and Resale Permit
If you plan to sell your baked goods wholesale or retail, you will need to obtain a sales tax permit. This permit allows you to collect sales tax from your customers and then remit it to the state. In some states, you may also need to obtain a resale permit, which allows you to purchase ingredients and supplies for your bakery without paying sales tax.
To get a sales tax permit, you must contact your state’s revenue or taxation department. The application process and fee for a sales tax permit vary from state to state, so check with your local authority for the most up-to-date information.
Food and Safety Certificate from the Local Health Department
As we mentioned earlier, if you plan on selling potentially hazardous baked goods, you will need to obtain a food safety certificate from the local health department. To get this certificate, you will likely need to pass a food safety inspection and have your bakery meet certain sanitary standards.
A county or state health inspector usually conducts the food safety inspection. They will check to make sure your bakery is clean and free of pests, as well as that you are using proper food handling procedures. If you pass the inspection, you will be issued a food safety certificate.
Food Handler’s Permit
In addition to a food safety certificate, you may also need to obtain a food handler’s permit. This permit is required in some states and allows you to handle and sell food products legally. To get a food handler’s permit, you will likely need to pass a written exam on food safety and sanitation practices.
To find out if you need a food handler’s permit and how to obtain one, check with your state’s health department or licensing authority.
Fire Department Permit
If you plan on having a commercial bakery, you will need to obtain a permit from the local fire department. This permit is usually required for any business that uses cooking equipment, such as ovens and fryers. The fire department permit ensures that your bakery meets all the necessary fire safety standards.
To get a fire department permit, you will need to contact your local fire marshal’s office. They will likely need to inspect your bakery to ensure it meets all the applicable fire codes and regulations.
In addition to a business license and permits from the health and fire departments, you may also need to obtain a sign permit from your local municipality. This permit is required if you plan on putting up any kind of signage for your bakery, such as a marquee or storefront sign.
To get a sign permit, you will need to contact your local zoning department. They will likely need to review your proposed sign to ensure it meets all the applicable zoning regulations.
Cottage Food Laws
If you plan on selling baked goods out of your home kitchen, you may be subject to cottage food laws. These laws vary from state to state, but generally allow people to sell certain types of food products (such as baked goods) from their homes without obtaining a commercial kitchen or bakery license.
To find out if your state has cottage food laws and what types of food products are covered, check with your state’s department of agriculture or licensing authority.
Local Zoning Laws
Another critical factor to consider when starting a bakery is local zoning laws. These laws govern what types of businesses can operate in certain areas. For example, some areas may restrict businesses producing food products.
Contact your city or county planning department to find out if any local zoning regulations apply to bakeries.
Employer Identification Number
Finally, if you plan on hiring any employees for your bakery, you must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number is used to identify your business for tax purposes and allows you to hire employees legally.
You can apply for an EIN online, by mail, or by fax.
Ensure Your Bakery Complies
Starting a bakery can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, before you can start baking and selling your goodies, you must ensure you have the proper licenses and permits. Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits ensures your bakery complies with all applicable laws and regulations.