“Fixed premises” means a building or other structure, or part of, with a permanent address. For example a café, takeaway shop, restaurant or similar food business at a permanent location is considered a fixed premise.
If you intend to manufacture food, or prepare or handle unpackaged food for wholesale or retail sale, you will need a Food Business Licence.
We understand when you start a new business you want to be up and running as soon as you’re ready. However, you must allow sufficient time for your Food Business Licence application to be properly assessed. This can take up to 30 days and if we need further information from you, it could be longer.
|Licence required||Licence not required|
|Manufacturing food - examples:|
|Retail sale of unpackaged food - examples:|
|Note: even though a licence may not be required, these types of businesses must ensure the sale of safe and suitable food, and comply with the Food Safety Standards. This includes the design, construction and fit out of the food premises.|
If you are unsure if you require a licence, contact Council on 1300 69 22 47 and ask to speak with an Environmental Health Officer.
How to apply
Step 1: Determine if you need a licence
Check the licence requirements table to identify if you need a Food Business Licence. If yes, continue to Step 2.
Even if you do not need a Food Business Licence, you must still comply with the other requirements of the Food Act and the provisions of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Step 2: Check other approvals
Starting a new food business may require other approvals, such as:
- Town Planning approval to use the premises for your intended purpose – confirmation is required from Council’s Development Services Unit;
- Footpath dining approval to use the footpath as an outdoor dining area for your patrons;
- Building approval to undertake any building works – you will need to contact a private building certifier; and
- Trade Waste approval to discharge into the sewerage system – confirmation is required from Council’s Trade Waste Unit .
All Council units can be contacted by phone on 1300 69 22 47 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also need other approvals from:
Step 3: Apply for Suitability of Premises approval
The design, construction and fit-out of your premises must comply with the Food Safety Standard 3.2.3.
NOTE: if you are taking over an existing food business and are not changing the fit-out, you do not need to submit a Suitability of Premises application. Refer to our section on Taking over a food business for more information.
Prepare plans and apply
During the application process, Council will assess the plans for your proposed food premises to ensure the design, construction and fit-out complies with the Food Safety Standard 3.2.3.
The Fixed Food Business Operation and Construction Guidelines ( PDF, 0.54 MB ) will help you make decisions on the design of your food premises and the construction materials you intend to use. Queensland Health’s Design and fit out guide will assist in correct construction and fit out.
In order to assess your suitability of premises application, two copies of your design plans (drawn to scale not less than 1:50) must be provided with your application. These design plans must include:
- floor plans including waste disposal facilities and location of equipment;
- elevations of each food preparation room/area; and
- details of mechanical exhaust ventilation (exhaust systems must comply with AS1668.2). You must also include specifications of all equipment being serviced by the mechanical exhaust ventilation.
After you have submitted your Suitability of Premises application to Council with the fee, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will assess it for compliance with the Food Act 2006.
Timeframes for assessment may vary, but in general allow up to 30 days for a full assessment. Further time will be required if the application does not include all the necessary information.
Upon approval, you will receive a conditional approval letter for the construction of your food premises. Once you receive your approval, and any other necessary permits (eg building approval), you may begin constructing/fitting out your premises as per the approved plans.
Step 4: Apply for a Food Business Licence
The operator of the food business must be deemed suitable, and have the required skills and knowledge to safely serve food to the public.
You will need to apply for your Food Business Licence at least 30 days before you intend to start trading, to allow us to assess your application in time.
The applicant must be the person or company that intends to operate the food business, not the contractor building the food premises. The applicant must be a legal entity (a person or company); a business name or trading name is not a legal entity and cannot be the licence holder.
You may also need to have a Food Safety Program (FSP) accredited with Council. If so, you should submit your FSP together with your Food Business Licence application.
Note: your Food Business Licence application will not be assessed until Council has first approved your design plans through the suitability of premises stage. If you submit your Food Business Licence application at the same time as your Suitability of Premises application, please contact contact Council’s Licensing and Approvals team on 1300 69 22 47 to begin the assessment process for the Food Business Licence.
During the Food Business Licence application process, Council will assess the suitability of the operator to safely prepare and serve food to the public.
Council will contact you if further information is required in order to consider your application. In this case, an extension of time will be needed to finalise the assessment.
Step 5: Request final inspection
Before you start trading, you need to contact Council to arrange a final inspection of the premises to determine if a Food Business Licence can be issued.
Before requesting your final inspection, and to avoid unnecessary delays, use the Food Business Final Inspection Checklist ( PDF, 0.12 MB ) to confirm that essential works have been completed.
At your final inspection, Council’s EHO will check your premises to ensure it has been fitted out in accordance with your letter of approval.
Step 6: Decision
After your final inspection, if Council's EHO is satisfied that your premises have been fitted out in accordance with your approval and you are a suitable person to hold a food licence, you will be issued with your Food Business Licence. You may then start trading.
If you have not met all requirements but Council's EHO is likely to approve your application once you fix minor requisitions, you may be issued with a provisional licence (a short-term licence with conditions that must be met within a specified timeframe). This will allow you to commence trading. You can only receive a provisional licence for a maximum of 3 months, and if you don’t attend to the conditions in the timeframe, your Food Business Licence will be refused.
Alternatively, if Council is not satisfied that you have met the requirements of the Food Act to prepare and sell safe and suitable food, your licence application will be refused and you will not be able to trade.
Remember, you can't operate until your Food Business Licence application is approved. A copy of your food licence will be mailed to you within two days of your final inspection. You must display it at your food premises in a prominent position so the details are easily visible to customers.
Step 7: Renewals
Council will send you an annual renewal invoice for your Food Business Licence. Pay on time to ensure you can continue to operate.
Be ready for inspections. Council’s EHOs can conduct compliance audits and inspections during your operating hours.
Remember to advise Council of any changes to your contact details to ensure you continue to receive your renewals and other relevant communication from Council.
If you operate a food business and would like to use the footpath as an outdoor dining area for your patrons, you must apply to Council for a footpath dining permit.
Permits ensure all businesses trading on the footpath comply with strict conditions that preserve the amenity, safety and accessibility of the city.
Council will assess your permit application to ensure the proposed use is in accordance with our Best Practice Use of Footpaths Policy ( PDF, 4.24 MB ) which governs the use of footpaths for outdoor dining.
If your permit is approved, we will issue you a footpath dining permit. Footpath dining permits need to be renewed annually and are not transferable. If the business changes hands, the new operator requires their own permit.
There is a $234 fee for new permit applications and a $190 fee for permit renewal.
Businesses using the footpath for outdoor dining need to pay rent based on the area of land they are using. Rental fees are determined by Council and payable annually or quarterly.
Please refer to this map ( JPG, 2.14 MB ) to determine which area your footpath dining activity will be charged at.
Annual rental fees
|Area A||$199.50 per m2|
|Area B||$106.10 per m2|
|Area C||$61.60 per m2|
|Area D||$37.10 per m2|
|Area E||$22.30 per m2|
|Area F||$13.80 per m2|
|Area G||$9.60 per m2|
Apply for a footpath dining permit
To apply for a new footpath dining permit you must:
- Complete and sign the footpath dining application form ( PDF, 0.44 MB ) or apply online
- Return the completed form and required supporting documentation to one of Council's Customer Service Centres (hard copy application)
- Provide evidence of Public Liability Insurance to the value of $20 million noting Cairns Regional Council as an interested party
- Pay the $234 new permit application fee
If your application is approved, you will receive a footpath dining permit and an invoice for rental fees. Your permit is not valid until the rental fee is paid.
Renew a footpath dining permit
Permit renewal application forms are issued to you by Council on 1 July each year.
To assist Council with speedy processing of your application, please sign and return the permit renewal application form and include:
- A copy of your Public Liability Insurance to the value of $20 million noting Cairns Regional Council as an interested party
- Payment of the $190 permit renewal fee
- Payment of rental fees (as per the invoice attached to your permit renewal application form)
Council cannot consider your renewal application if the information above is not provided by 31 July. Failure to renew your footpath dining permit means you will be trading without a permit and could be fined or have your outdoor dining furniture seized by Council.
For further information, download our fact sheets, read our frequently asked questions, or contact Council on 1300 69 22 47.
Food Safety Supervisor notification
You must have a nominated Food Safety Supervisor for your food business at all times.
This person needs to have the experience and skills relevant to day-to-day safe food handling and authority in supervising other staff within the food business.
The Food Safety Supervisor must be reasonably available whenever the business is operating, and they also serve as a point of contact for Council and staff who handle food in the food business.
You must either:
- Nominate this person when you apply for your licence by including their details on the Food Business Licence application form; or
- Nominate a Food Safety Supervisor by contacting Council by phone, email or mail within 30 days of the Food Business Licence being approved.
Find out more about Food Safety Supervisors
Food Safety Program accreditation
Food Safety Programs (FSPs) are documented procedures that help food businesses to identify and monitor food safety hazards, and implement control measures. Cairns Regional Council is responsible for accrediting FSPs for food businesses located within the Cairns local government area.
Not all food businesses are required to have a FSP. Check when a Food Safety Program is required, or refer to Food Safety Standard 3.2.1.
If your business is required to have a FSP, you must arrange for an approved auditor to assist in reviewing it. You will then need to submit your FSP to Council with a Notice of Written Advice from the auditor. This should be done at the same time as applying for your Food Business Licence.
You can use the Food Business Licence application ( PDF, 0.34 MB ) form to apply for your FSP accreditation.
Find out more about Food Safety Programs.