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Safe & Legal Checklist

10 things every food business needs to be safe & legal

Every catering business in the UK must adhere to a series of legal requirements in order to trade. Follow our useful checklist in order to ensure that you are operating in accordance with the legal guidelines.

1. Register with your Local Authority

It is a legal requirement to register your business with the Environmental Health Department prior to trading. It is good practice and NCASS recommended to register at least 28 days before you begin trading.

Registration takes place with the Environmental Health Department at your Local Authority. Mobile caterers must register with the Local Authority in which their premises are kept.

Register with your Local Authority

Within your first three months of trading, your Environmental Health Department will carry out an inspection of your premises to ensure that you are trading legally and safely.

2. Get the right Licences to Trade

Street Trading Licences

If you trade on public streets or roadsides, you will require a Street Trading Licence. Street Trading Licences are not required if you operate solely on private land or at events or shows, provided the organiser is in possession of a valid licence.

3. Register as a Business

Getting the right Legal & Tax Structure for you and your business.


When setting up your new catering business, you will need to elect a business structure which best suits the needs of your business. Options include:


  • Limited Company

  • Limited Liability Partnership

  • Partnership

  • Sole Trader

Make certain that you opt for the best structure for your business by visiting the Central Government website and considering both the advantages and pitfalls of each structure. Once you have decided on the option most relevant to your business, you must also register with HMRC and set up a Book Keeping System. > Find out more

4. Do a Risk Assessment / HACCP

All food businesses in the European Union must have a Food Safety Risk Assessment based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) principles.

Members have a revolutionary online risk assessment tool in their membership dashboard that allows them to create Food Safety, Health & Safety, COSSH, and Fire Safety risk assessments on the fly as well as quickly create Employment contracts. This not only helps to understand and assess the risks associated with running your business, but also ensures that you have plans in place which are designed to minimise risk and liability in any eventuality.

risk assessment

5. Get Food Hygiene / Food Safety Training

All staff members within your catering business must receive training pertaining to their position.


This ensures that each staff member is operating safely, legally and effectively. If you're unsure as to whether you or your staff require further training, then please see our Training Area.

6. Get the right Insurance

It is a legal requirement for caterers to have Employers' Liability Insurance if they employ one or more staff members. Each day without cover can draw fines of up to £2,500.

Employers' liability insurance protects business owners against the cost of compensation claims arising from employee illness or injury which have been sustained as a result of their work.

All caterers should also have Public Liability Insurance which protects business owners should customers or members of the public suffer personal injury or damage to their property as the result of your business. Public Liability Insurance covers the cost of legal expenses and compensation claims.

If you're looking for insurance for your catering business we recommend you get in touch with us or visit We know what makes a good insurance policy, and more importantly what makes a bad one. Because catering insurance is such an important part of your business we ensure you get the right cover, advice and price.

NCASS insurance

7. Get a Gas Safety Certificate

Get a Gas Safety Certificate

All gas equipment which is used for catering purposes must be installed, inspected and tested annually by a gas safe engineer. This is a legal requirement and applies to ALL caterers including Street Food Traders.

Engineers need to be qualified in Mobile Catering & LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas / bottled Gas). They will inspect your equipment and issue you with a certificate if your equipment is safe and legal to use.

New trailers and equipment should come with safety certification, however if you are working on a gazebo or market stall, you will also need to ensure that your gas ‘rig’ is tested.

> You can read more about gas safety here

8. Get an Electrical Certificate

Legislation dictates that all employers must provide safe business premises and equipment. NCASS therefore recommends that all caterers have an Electric Safety Check to verify the safety of all installed appliances. Periodic Inspections should also be carried out every 6 to 12 months in order to ensure continued safety.

These can be provided by any NIC / IEC registered electrician as can the PAT (Portable Appliance Test). The electric safety tests determine the safety of your electrical installation, while the PAT testing is concerned with portable appliances.

9. Operate a Food Safety Management System / Due Diligence System

A Due Diligence System is a vital tool for all caterers. Having a Due Diligence system in place ensures that you have a record of the policies and procedures to which you must adhere in order to keep your staff and customers safe at all times.

As a caterer, a Due Diligence System is likely your only line of defence in the unfortunate event of prosecution, so it is essential that your Due Diligence System is relevant to your business.

The NCASS Due Diligence System has been approved by a government body as part of our Primary Authority Partnership. This means that it's Assured Advice and Guidance.

Whilst you can purchase one of our catering due diligence systems it's actually much better value to become a member. You'll get the system included in your membership pack as well as access to our revolutionary online risk assessment creation tool. If you'd like more information on this we recommend giving us a call. Want to purchase the system alone? Click here

10. Hand Washing Facilities

By law, all food business must have separate hand and pot washing facilities.

People failing to wash their hands regularly is a key cause of cross contamination and food poisoning. Subsequently, it is a legal requirement for all catering units to have appropriate hand washing facilities. Anti Bacterial Gel is not accepted by Environmental Health Officers as an appropriate method of cleaning hands

If you need a mobile hand-washing solution for your business or would like to discuss your requirements you can visit our dedicated equipment website or give us a call - we'll make sure you get what you need.

So there you have it, our 10 step legal checklist. If you have any questions or would like further advice, then please feel free to give us a call.

If you have recently started your own catering business or you are currently considering doing so, then please head over to our Start Up Area. Here, we discuss the legalities of setting up your catering business in more depth, as well as discussing how much it will cost to start up your business and much, much more!

Mobile catering law matters

Compliance minimises risk to your customers and staff as well as to you and your business. With more than 30 years of experience under our belt, NCASS is well placed to help you run your food business legally and safely. Trade legally and you’re in the best position to trade safely.

All the information, tools, training and legislation updates you need to trade legally are waiting for you in your NCASS membership package. We go the extra mile to ensure that our members can trade legally whilst fulfilling their passion: cooking delicious food.

Join the Nationwide Caterers Association for just
£20.25 p/m


Work opportunities, legal documents, essential and invaluable advice, training codes, cashback and lots more are the name of the game here at NCASS HQ. And with prices starting from just £20.25 per month, why not become the latest member of the NCASS Family? Maximise the profitability of your food business with NCASS membership. > Find out more

Want to talk about membership? Call 0300 124 6866

or to request a call back click here

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