On this page

  • Starting a food business checklist
  • Site, home kitchen, food trucks
  • Checking with other departments
  • Registering your business
  • Type of Registration
  • Verification
  • Exemption, fundraiser and community events
  • Stand and stall guidelines
  • Fees
  • Failure to comply with the Food Act
  • Related Details
  • Help



Selling food

Under the Food Act 2014, businesses that handles, process, extract, grows, pack, make, reheat, transport or store food to be sold must be registered (licensed) and verified (inspected) to ensure safe and suitable food is being sold. Before starting or taking-over a food business, you must first check with the Environmental Health team to make sure you understand the rules.

Businesses either dairies, small supermarkets, takeaways, restaurants, cafes, bakery, brewery, food transporter, and small manufacturers can generally run under the Simply Safe Food Control Plan or National Programme and can be verified by the Council’s Environmental Health Officers.

For some larger operations like supermarkets and bigger manufacturing plants that operates under a Custom Food Control Plan must register with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). The Environmental Health team can guide you to MPI, if this is applicable to you.
Please note some premises or businesses are exempted, such as selling once a year does not need to a food licence, so checking with MPI or the Environmental Health team is recommended. For more details about exemptions, visit


Starting a food business checklist

All businesses selling food must hold a Certificate of Registration, also known as food licence and will need to find a verifier to get verified. Here is step by step checklist to help you with your journey.

Step 1: Before you start everything, ensure you are in the Invercargill district. Check with the food team and different council departments such as planning, building, trade waste and roading and/or parks (if applicable) to ensure compliance with the other legislative requirements.

Step 2: Register your business with the appropriate plan or programme (type of registration can be seen below). You can see all the registered food businesses here: Public Register | MPI

Step 3: You must ensure you have a verification agency to check your premises to be able to register, especially for National Programmes, which the council is a recognised agency to do these. You can check recognised agencies and persons here: Public Register | MPI

Step 4: Once you have registered and found a verifier. Ensure you have read, tailored and understood the plan or programme you are registered in, including the food safety practices you must follow and records you must keep as this will be checked during the verification.

Step 5: Start operating and after six weeks a verifier will contact you to make a booking for your initial verification.

Step 6: After the verification, the verifier will let you know if there are other tasks under the Food Act that you must follow and will let you know about your next verification.

You should now be fine after this and just let us know if there are any other changes in your operations, scopes or details by calling us or sending us an email.


Site location, home kitchens and food trucks

Before applying for a food licence, you must consider the location and layout of the premises if it suits your business, whether it is suitable to allow you to receive, store and prepare your food in a safe manner. Ensure you have understood whether the premises is appropriate for your type of business, in good condition, have a suitable potable water supply, and does contain the right equipment.

You may need to build, repair or revamp to get the right premises for your business, so you should always check with other relevant Council departments for any additional advice and information that may be relevant to your chosen site, building or renovation plans. You may need to apply for consents or permits to ensure your building and operation are set up legally.

Producing food at home can be an option, which you must have the appropriate equipment and spaces to run your business and additional non-food related issues that may need to be considered such as planning restrictions, changes of use under the Building Act, possible trade waste requirements etc. If you are thinking of using your home-based kitchen to make food for sale, please discuss your proposal with other Council departments to ensure you are operating both your domestic and commercial activities safely and legally.

If you intend on selling food from a mobile vehicle in a public space, you will need a mobile trader licence under the Environmental Health Bylaw 2017. You will need to consider if your food preparation and storage will be solely in the vehicle or whether a ‘base kitchen’ will be required, as this information may need to be noted as part of your food registration.


Checking with other council departments

Do you need a resource consent? 

Your proposed business must comply with District Plan rules – we recommend you get in touch with a duty planner to discuss any requirements.

Planning team


Do you need a building consent?

Your proposed business must comply with the Building Act 2004.   We recommend getting in touch with our building services team to discuss your project and clarify requirements and what plans and paperwork should be included in your application. 

Building team


What Trade Waste requirements need to be considered?

We recommend you get in touch with our Trade Waste Officer to discuss any requirements under Trade Waste Bylaw 2017 (refer to our Bylaws page).


Do you need an alcohol licence?

If you intend to sell and supply alcohol, you need the appropriate licence.  You must contact the District Licensing Committee.

District Licensing Committee


Trading food in wheel?

You will need a mobile licence. See Mobile Traders.


Registering your business with us

You can apply for a licence online using the My Invercargill portal. If you haven’t already, register for account. If you have any issues with registering get in touch with us by email or phone (03) 2111777.

  1. Go to My Invercargill and log in.
  2. From the top menu bar select ‘Licensing’ then ‘New Licence’.
  3. Select Food Registration, then click ‘Next’. This should now lead you to the application form of the type of business.
  4. Fill out applicable fields, attach the required files including the scope of operations (see and verification agreement form (see below), ensure you have read and understood the terms and conditions, and submit your application.
  5. A follow up email will be sent, if there is more information we require and/or invoice will be sent to you.
  6. Once this has been confirmed and paid, a food licence should be sent to you which you can now start operating. After a few weeks, a verifier will contact you about the initial verification.


Scope of operations


Verification agreement form


Terms and Condition


Manual registration form


Type of registration

There are different types of licences depending on what you sell. Higher risk businesses, such as those that make and sell meals, will need to operate under a Food Control Plan (FCP), while lower to medium risk businesses, such as those selling pre-packaged foods, will need to operate under a National Programme (NP).

If you are unsure of the type of registration you should register to, refer to the My Food Rules tool ( to help you find out which type of registration you may need. This will give you more idea in what type of plan or programme you should use.

Other programmes can be the result from completing the MPI questionnaire such as My Food Plan, Custom Food Control Plan or Risk Management Plan, which you will need to register with MPI.


What type of plan or programme can you register with the council?


  1. Food Control Plan – Renewed annually.
    1. Template food control plan (tFCP) is a higher risk pre-evaluated plan for managing food safety and suitability. This can either be:
      1. food service businesses such as restaurants, cafes, takeaways, catering, or hospital kitchens
      2. food retailers that prepare or manufacture and sell food – including retail butchers, fishmongers, delis, and supermarkets
      3. cheesemakers and cheesemongers
      4. members of an organisation that has created its own template – approved by MPI’s New Zealand Food Safety.

      For more details, see Use a template food control plan (

  2. National Programmes are lower and medium risk businesses with three different levels. National Programme licences runs for at least two years before renewal.
      1. National Programme 1 are the lowest risk businesses that will only need to be verified once. This can be:
        1. transporters or distributors of food products
        2. horticultural food producers and horticultural packing operations (packhouses)
        3. retailers of manufacturer-packaged ice cream and iced confectionery.
      2. National Programme 2 are the low to medium risk businesses that will only need to be verified every three years. This can be:
        1. bread bakeries
        2. manufacturers of jams, chips, and confectionery
        3. manufacturers of sauces and spreads.
      3. National Programme 3 are the low to medium risk businesses that will only need to be verified every three years. This can be:
        1. brewers and distillers
        2. food additive manufacturers
        3. fruit drink and flour manufacturers.

    For more details, see National Programmes: steps (


If you have multiple food business in Invercargill with similar programme or plan then you can apply for a multi-site which is generally cheaper.

If you have food businesses in different district or city, you must either register with each different council or register all of these businesses with MPI.

Copies of a food control plan or national programme, including some in other languages, can be viewed or downloaded in the MPI website.



If you have a food business, it must be audited to ensure you are selling safe and suitable food by following the requirements of your Food Control Plan or National Programme. This is called a verification (also known as an audit or inspection) and a person doing these checks is called a verifier.

If you have registered a Food Control Plan with us, our staff will automatically carry out your verifications. If you have registered a National Programme, you can choose a verifier which could be us or another approved verifier. The registration authority must be notified and should be included with your application when registering.

When you start trading, you must be verified within 6 weeks and then the frequency of your next verification requirement will be determined by your licence type and the outcome of each visit.

A verification usually takes an hour which will involve observations and discussions regarding condition of your premises (including use of design and equipment, cleaning and maintenance), processes (including training procedure, when something goes wrong procedures and how you prevent cross-contamination) and the records you are required to do and keep (including training records and temperature records, if applicable).

Issues that are observed will be discussed with you at the time (where a corrective action requests or recommendation may be mentioned) and the outcome. There can be a revisit if there are any critical non-compliance which is an immediate food safety risk.

Fees for verification or revisits is charged in 15 minute intervals, so the more issues we find, the longer the verification takes (which also includes the writing of report).

Find out more about verification here: Getting your food business verified | NZ Government ( and our terms and conditions (listed above).


Exemptions, fundraising and community events

If you intend to sell food to the public for fundraising for less than 20 times a year or do food activities that are very low-risk as noted here, you do not need any food permits or registration. However, the Food Act 2014 still places the responsibility on you, as the food vendor, to ensure you sell safe and suitable food. You are welcome to discuss your proposal with us to make sure you understand your responsibilities when selling food. 

If you’re running a community, fundraising, charity or occasional event, as the event organiser and/or food vendor, you’re responsible for food safety. Events play an important role in our community. No one wants people to get sick from food they bought from the event, and it’s certainly not something you want associated with your event. You must make sure all food at the event is safe and suitable to eat.

For more details about exemptions, check



Fees are charged for new registration applications and must be paid before your registration certificate will be issued. A verification fee will then be charged separately.

Registration renewals happen every August annually or biannually depending in the type of registration you have and subsequent verifications occur at a frequency dependent upon your registration type and outcomes noted from your verifications. These will be invoiced automatically at the appropriate time.

Additional fees may be charged at any stage including revisits, Corrective Action Request follow ups and how long these problems or ongoing matters of concern are addressed.

Refer to Environmental Health on the Fees and Charges page.


Failure to comply with the Food Act 2014

A person commits an offence under the said Act if they breach or fails to comply with any of the following:

  • to get in contact with us about any changes,
  • not complying with a requirement, standard, improvement notice,
  • not paying fees,
  • obstruction of verification,
  • not being verified,
  • or not being registered.

These failures or breaches are offences which a person or a body corporate may be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $50,000 fines for an individual and up to $300,000 for a body corporate.

Refer to the Food Act 2014 ( for more details.



Please get in touch if you have any concerns or feedback about our service.   

Our environmental health team also investigate a range of matters relating to public health, including:

  • Unregistered premises,
  • foreign matter in food (i.e. hair, glass, general food safety etc)
  • concerns about any premises, business or activities that was mentioned in this page.

Some complaints that relates to smell, fumes, smoke or odour will go to Environment Southland

Illnesses may need to go to Public Health South. For serious concerns, please call the emergency services.


Related Details


Mentoring sessions

If you are having a hard time understanding and would require further advice, the Environmental Health team can provide mentoring sessions for guidance on how to develop and implement a Food Control Plan or National Programme, so they work best for you. These sessions can take time and prove very useful to those new to the food industry or for those who haven’t operated a similar system before.

Please note there might be a charge for this service.


Need help?

If you have any question, issue or concern, please do not hesitate to ask us.  You can contact the Environmental Health team for advice about operating a food business at:


Phone: 03 2111 777