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Does a Pub Need a Licence to Sell Food?

By Stephanie Lowndes on September 4th, 2023

As a pub owner in the UK, you may be wondering whether you need a licence to sell food. The short answer is yes. The law requires all businesses that sell food to obtain the necessary licence or approval to ensure that they meet certain standards for food safety and hygiene.

It is important to understand the requirements and regulations surrounding food licensing to ensure smooth operation of your pub. In this article, we explore the steps involved in obtaining a licence to sell food in pubs and the certifications needed to run a food business in a pub.

Do you Need a Licence to Sell Food UK?

In the UK, pubs are required to have a licence in order to sell food. Pubs must obtain a premises licence from their local authority in order to be legally allowed to sell food; this involves completing an application form and paying a fee. 

The licence will then allow the business to make any necessary arrangements for selling food, such as obtaining any additional equipment or hiring staff who are trained in food safety. 

However, you are exempt as long as specific criteria are met:

  • Food constitutes less than 25% of your total trade
  • You refrain from handling any wild game meat products

Understanding the Licensing Process for Selling Food in Pubs

Step 1: Apply for the Licence

The application process varies depending on the type of licence needed as well as where the pub is located. Generally, applications must be made through the local council or licensing authority in the area. 

All necessary forms can usually be obtained from their website. It’s important to note that there is usually a fee associated with the application.

Step 2: Submit Required Documentation

Once the application form has been completed, it must be submitted along with any other required documentation. This can include proof of identity, insurance paperwork and any health and safety information relating to food preparation. All necessary documents must be included for the application.

Step 3: Pass the Inspection 

Once the application has been submitted, the council will carry out an inspection of the premises to ensure that all the necessary requirements are met. They will be looking for things like proper storage facilities for food, clean and hygienic cooking equipment, and appropriate waste disposal methods.

If the inspection is successful, the council will issue a food premises approval certificate, which the pub must display in their establishment. If there are any issues identified during the inspection, the pub owner will need to address them before a certificate is issued.

It is important to note that failure to obtain a food licence can result in fines and legal action, so it is essential for pub owners to take the necessary steps to obtain the licence before operating.

Understanding Food Permits and Certifications

Pub owners must be aware of the various food permits and certifications required for operating their establishments. Complying with these regulations is essential for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of customers.

Food Hygiene Certificate

Pub owners and their staff who handle food must hold a Food Hygiene Certificate. This certificate demonstrates that they have completed an accredited training course in food hygiene and safety.

Food Safety Management System

Pub owners must establish a Food Safety Management System to ensure that food is safe to consume. This system should include procedures for purchasing, storing, preparing, and serving food. It should also involve regular inspections, record-keeping, and staff training.

Allergy Awareness Training

Pub owners and their staff must have allergy awareness training to ensure that they can safely handle and prepare food for customers with allergies. This training covers the identification of allergens in food ingredients, cross-contamination prevention, and emergency procedures in case of an allergic reaction.


Owning and operating a pub that sells food comes with several legal requirements that pub owners must fulfil to comply with UK regulations. These requirements include obtaining a food licence, applying for a food premises approval, and ensuring certifications are in place.

Get Pub Insurance Today

Here at Brisco, our pub insurance is designed to provide coverage for all the needs of pub owners. We offer a range of comprehensive policies that can be tailored to meet your budget and protect against any potential risks. 

Our team of experienced professionals can provide expert advice and guidance to help you choose the right cover for your needs, providing peace of mind that you are protected against unforeseen issues.

To learn more about our full coverage options, get a quote today.

Stephanie Lowndes

Stephanie is a digital marketing masters graduate with extensive customer service experience gained in the retail and hospitality sectors. Stephanie is currently a marketing executive at Brisco Business.

All articles by Stephanie Lowndes

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