Taking over a food business

Are you thinking about buying an existing fixed or mobile food business? There are some important things you need to complete before you can start operating:

  • You must hold a Food Business Licence ie either Fixed Premises or Mobile Food Vehicle.  Note: It is not possible to transfer an existing Food Business Licence to a new owner or operator.
  • If there is a Footpath Dining approval and you intend for this activity to continue, you will need to submit a new application for a Footpath Dining Permit. Please refer to the Footpath Dining page for further information.
  • Contact Council’s Trade Waste Unit by phone 1300 69 22 47 or email tradewaste@cairns.qld.gov.au to transfer any trade waste approvals.

Pre-purchase search

If you are considering buying an existing food business, it is recommended that you request a sales search so that an Environmental Health Officer can inspect the premises and identify any potential food safety issues. This search requires permission from the current licence holder to allow that information to be released to you.

You can apply for a sales search by completing the form to request a health pre-sales search ( PDF, 0.17 MB ) and submit to Council with the relevant fee ( PDF, 0.03 MB ).

You will also need to ensure the current license holder completes the Authorisation for Release of Information form ( PDF, 0.21 MB ), so that the information can be released to you.

Application process

Food Business Licence

It is not possible to transfer an existing Food Business Licence to a new owner or operator. The new owner or operator must apply and receive approval for a new Food Business Licence before they start trading. To ensure you are ready to start trading you will need to:

Changes to premises or vehicle

If you are taking over an existing food business (Fixed or Mobile) and are not changing the fit-out of the premises or vehicle, you do not need to submit a Suitability of Premises application.

However, if you plan to renovate or refurbish, a Suitability of Premises application may be required.

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, 1.47 MB ) form to apply for your FSP accreditation.

Find out more about Food Safety Programs.

Last updated: 16 June 2020