Food License Table

Food– means a raw, cooked, or processed edible substance, ice, a beverage, an ingredient used or intended for use or sale in whole or in part for human consumption, or chewing gum.

The following establishment types are required to be licensed in the state of Iowa.  A license cannot be issued in a home family kitchen, with excemption of a Home Food Processing Establishment license.

**Please choose your establishment type and click on the links below:

Retail Food Service Establishment

(Restaurants, bars, concession stands,  catering commissary, etc.)

means a food establishment where food is prepared or served for individual portion,  service intended for consumption on the premises or is subject to Iowa sales tax

Retail Food Establishment

(Grocery Stores, bakeries, etc.)

means a food establishment that sells to consumer customers food or food products intended for preparation or consumption off the premises.

Unattended Food Establishment

(Micro-Market Convenience Store)

means an operation that provides packaged foods or whole fruit using an automated payment system and has controlled entry not accessible by the general public.

“Controlled entry,” for the purposes of the definition of “unattended food establishment,” means selective restriction or limitation of access to a place or location.

Food Processing Plant

(Food processing or Warehouse storage)

means a commercial operation that manufactures, packages, labels or stores food for human consumption and does not provide food directly to a consumer.

Mobile Food Unit

(Food trucks, trailers, pushcarts)

means a food establishment that is self-contained, with the exception of a grill or smoker, and readily movable, which either operates up to three consecutive days at one location or returns to a home base of operation at the end of each day.

Farmer’s Market

(Food vendors selling food that requires temperature control)

means a marketplace which operates seasonally, principally as a common market for Iowa-produced farm products on a retail basis for consumption elsewhere.

Temporary Food Establishment

(Fair, Festival, Craft show, Vendor show, etc.)

means a food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event.

An “event” is a significant occurrence or happening sponsored by a civic, business, governmental, community, or veterans organization and may include an athletic contest.  An event does not include a single store’s (including bars and breweries) grand opening or sale.

Home Food Processing Establishment

(Home based food operation)

means a business on the premises of a residence in which homemade food items are produced for sale or resale, for consumption off the premises, if the business has gross annual sales of less than $50,000. However, “Home Food Processing Establishment” does not include a residence in which food is prepared to be used or sold by churches, fraternal societies, charitable organizations, or civic organizations.
 Vending Machine means a self-service device which, upon insertion of a coin, paper currency, token, card or key, or by optional manual operation, dispenses unit servings of food in bulk or in packages without the necessity of replenishing the device between each vending operation. Vending machines that dispense only prepackaged foods that are not time/temperature control for safety foods, panned candies, gumballs or nuts are exempt from licensing but may be inspected by the department upon receipt of a written complaint. “Panned candies” are those with a fine, hard coating on the outside and a soft candy filling on the inside. Panned candies are easily dispensed by a gumball-type machine.

What type of business do you have?


Food Service: such restaurants, bars and taverns (including those that only serve beverages), cafeterias, delicatessens, catering operations, mobile food units, farmer’s markets, temporary food events, hotel breakfasts, vending machines, and more: or,

Food Establishment: such as grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries, and more; or, Food Processing Plants and Food Warehouses


Bottled water and water dispensing machines. Alcoholic Beverage Service (see Food)


Buildings or homes used or advertised to the public as a place where sleeping accommodations are rented to temporary or transient guests

Meat and Poultry Producers

Slaughter and processing facilities in Iowa that produce products for wholesale within the state of Iowa.


Iowa Department of Agriculture

Meat and Poultry Inspection Bureau


[email protected]

Dairy Producers

Farms, processors, transporters, and more.


Iowa Department of Agriculture

Dairy Products Control Bureau


[email protected]