Starting a Food Truck? What licenses do you need to start one in the UK?

Updated: Dec 3, 2019

More and more wannabe restaurant owners are launching food trucks. Whether it’s to test the market, get your name out there, or as a cheaper alternative to running a full-time business, food trucks are popping up all over the UK.

There are many headaches to starting a food truck, the biggest one being acquiring the truck itself, and kitting it out with the necessary cooking equipment. This can be a huge expense in itself, and you may feel like you are opening a bricks and mortar restaurant not one on four wheels! Fortunately, your entire operation can be fully financed with one of our 35 lenders, this will enable you to open the hatch and start serving your delicacy.

A smaller, but equally important consideration for new food truck owners are getting the necessary licenses to begin trading. Here is a list of the licenses that you need before you can sell food on the street.

1. Registration as a Business with Your Local Council

You cannot sell food until you register as a food business with the government. It usually takes 28 days for the registration to come through before you can begin trade. Registration can be done through the website.

Within 6 months of registering as a food business, you will receive a visit from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to assess the hygiene standard of your premises. You can begin trading before this happens so long as your original registration has gone through

Registration as a business with your council costs nothing.

2. Level 2 or 3 Food Safety & Hygiene

A level 2 food Safety & Hygiene is required if you want to sell food from any premises in the UK. This includes selling from a fixed or mobile location (such as a food truck).

A level 2 Food Safety & Hygiene certificate is sufficient only if you are running your food truck by yourself. If you are managing other staff members on-premises, then you will need a Level 3 certificate. Both courses can be done online here.

The cost of a Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene Certificate is £49.99, and a Level 3 Certificate is £84.99

3. An Approved HACCP Plan

A HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) proves that you understand how food needs to be stored, and have adequate storage space and facilities for all the food that you keep on-premises.

The plan itself includes a list of all the ingredients and supplies involved in your food truck business, the type of storage that each ingredient requires, and your plan for storage. It also requires a floor plan of your premises which clearly marks the different storage facilities.

Without a HACCP Plan you will automatically fail your HSE Inspection and get closed down. Fortunately the Foods Standards Agency Supply a thorough template of what they want in a HACCP Plan

4. Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are simply a list of all the possible accidents that could happen in your food truck. You have to get really detailed with this, making note of every small thing that someone might trip up over.

Risk assessments are tedious tasks, but an inadequate risk assessment can also see your food truck shut down.

5. Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) certificates

This only applies to food trucks serving hot food. If your food truck uses one or more gas stoves, then you need an LPG test annually. If you use electric cooking devices then a PAT test needs to be done annually. These will also be checked by the Health & Safety Executive.

LPG tests can be carried out by most plumbers. In a similar fashion, most electricians can perform PAT Tests.

Failing these tests can mean the expensive task of replacing your cooking equipment. The chances of this happening can be reduced by ensuring that your equipment is high quality and well maintained. Leasing your cooking equipment is a good way to ensure this without putting pressure on your cashflow.

PAT tests are very cheap, costing around £2 per unit tested. LPG tests are more expensive, costing anywhere from £50-150 per unit tested.

Additional call-out fees are likely to apply on top of these testing costs.

5. Public Liability Insurance

Just like how you can’t drive a car without insurance, you need some protection in case something goes wrong when working in your food truck. This can include cases of food poisoning, injuries to employees, or accidental damage to public or private property.

As food trucks become a more popular venture for people wanting to break the hospitality industry, we are seeing a rise in specialised insurance packages for food truck owners. You can expect to pay around £100-£150 a year to insure your food truck against public harm or damage.

6. Street vendor licence

On top of business registration, you need a licence from your local council to sell food in public.

These licences vary from council to council, and from location to location. Busier locations are likely to be more expensive to obtain a license to serve food in. You need to pay this licence for every day that you serve food in, and they can run from £5 to £30 a day. You are likely to do more business in locations where licences are more expensive.

It’s important to bear in mind that even with a licence, you can only sell food in certain designated areas. Contact your local council to find out exactly where you can sell from your food truck

Funding your food truck

At GSM Finance, we can help you secure the vehicle and all the equipment you need to start your food truck business through asset finance leases and hire purchases as well as business loans.

To get the ball rolling why not call us today and one of the team can talk through your requirements and suggest a finance plan that will be tailored to your business.

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