Food License Table

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 Bakery license.  

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


Retail Food Service Establishment

(Restaurants, bars or taverns, take-out food, 
catering commissary, concession stands, 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.  Items not subject to Iowa sales tax.


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

  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

(Food stand at a fair or festival, RAGBRAI)
  means a food establishment that operates for a period of no more than 14 consecutive days in conjunction with a single event or celebration. An “event or celebration” is a significant occurrence or happening sponsored by a civic, business, educational, government, community, or veterans’ organization and may include athletic contests. For example, an event does not include a single store’s grand opening or sale.

Vending Machine

  means a food establishment which is a self-service device that, upon insertion of a coin, paper currency, token, card or key, 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, non- potentially hazardous 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.


Home Bakery

(Home based food operation)
  means a business on the premises of a residence that is operating as a home-based bakery where potentially hazardous bakery goods are prepared for consumption elsewhere. Annual gross sales of these products cannot exceed $35,000. “Home Bakery” does not include a residence where food is prepared to be used or sold by churches, fraternal societies, or charitable, civic or nonprofit organizations.  Residences which prepare or distribute honey, shell eggs or nonhazardous baked goods for pick-up by the customer (no delivery or shipping) are not required to be licensed as a home food establishment.

What Type of Business do You Have?

Choose the type that best decribes your business


  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.
Bars or Taverns that offer Alcoholic Beverage Service or other establishments that offer only drink 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.
  Contact: Iowa Department of Agriculture
Meat and Poultry Inspection Bureau





  Farms, processors, transporters, and more.
  Contact: Iowa Department of Agriculture
Dairy Products Control Bureau