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Do you need a license for a burger van in the UK?

Food trucks and burger vans have become increasingly popular in the UK, offering a convenient and unique dining experience. If you are considering starting a food truck business, one of the key questions you may have is whether you need a license to operate.

man passing a burger to a woman

In this guide, we will explore the licensing requirements and other legal considerations for running a burger van in the UK.

Understanding food hygiene certificates

When it comes to operating a food-related business, ensuring food safety is of utmost importance. In the UK, food hygiene certificates are mandatory for anyone handling, preparing, and cooking food in the catering industry. These certificates demonstrate your knowledge and compliance with food safety regulations.

There are three levels of food hygiene certificates available: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. As the food truck owner of a burger van business, you will need to obtain a Level 3 certificate, which is specifically designed for individuals managing food businesses.

Additionally, any staff you hire should have at least a Level 2 certificate, appropriate for their role in the food truck.

Registering your business with the local authority

Before you can start selling food from your burger van, it is essential to register your business with the local authority. This process can typically be completed online and must be done at least 28 days before you start trading.

Registration is free of charge and is a legal requirement to ensure your food business is compliant with regulations.

Once you have registered your burger van business with the local authority, you can expect a visit from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) within six months of opening.

They will assess the hygiene regulations and standards of your premises and provide you with a rating. This rating demonstrates your commitment to food safety and can positively impact your reputation among new and loyal customers.

Developing a HACCP plan

A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan is a crucial document that helps you identify and manage potential hazards in your burger van business.

It outlines the procedures and protocols for handling, storing, preparing, and transporting food safely. Having a HACCP plan in place is essential to pass inspections and demonstrate your commitment to food safety.

Creating a HACCP plan may seem daunting, but there are resources available to assist you. The Food Standards Agency provides templates and guidelines to help you develop a comprehensive plan that meets the requirements of the regulatory authorities.

Securing public liability insurance

Operating a burger van involves serving the public, and it's important to protect yourself against potential risks and liabilities.

Public liability insurance provides cover in case of accidents, injuries, or public or private property damage that may occur as a result of your business activities. It is a crucial safeguard that can protect you from costly legal claims and financial losses.

Conducting comprehensive risk assessments

Risk assessments are an important part of running a burger van business. They involve identifying potential hazards and implementing measures to minimise risks and ensure the safety of your customers, employees, and the general public.

Regularly reviewing and updating your risk assessments is crucial to maintain a safe working environment.

Some key areas to focus on when conducting risk assessments for your burger van include:

  • Ensuring the serving area is safe and free from any potential hazards.
  • Identifying and addressing any trip hazards between the truck and customer areas.
  • Listing potential accidents that could occur for both employees and customers.
  • Outlining proper food storage and hygiene protocols.
  • Implementing safety features to minimise the risk of food poisoning.
  • Conducting fire risk assessments and having the appropriate fire extinguishers.

Electrical and gas appliance safety

If your burger van operates with gas or electrical appliances, it is essential to prioritize safety and comply with relevant regulations. Gas appliances should undergo annual LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) testing by a registered gas installer to ensure they are safe to use.

Similarly, electrical appliances should undergo Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) by a qualified electrician. Having the necessary certificates and documentation readily available will help you pass inspections and demonstrate your commitment to safety.

Applying for a street food vendor license

To operate a burger van in the UK, you must obtain a street food vendor license from your local council. This license allows you to trade on designated streets and ensures that you are operating within the regulations set by the council. The cost of the license varies depending on your location and the specific requirements of your local council.

It is important to note that not all streets are permitted for mobile catering operations. Local councils maintain a list of licensed streets where food trucks are allowed to trade.

Before applying for a street food vendor license, familiarise yourself with the designated areas where you can sell your products.

Contact your local council's licensing department for guidance and information on the application process.


line of people buying burgers

Starting a burger van business can be an exciting and profitable venture. However, it is important to understand and comply with the licensing requirements and legal obligations to operate your burger van legally and safely.

Obtaining the necessary food hygiene certificates, registering your business, developing a HACCP plan, securing public liability insurance, conducting risk assessments, and obtaining the required licenses will ensure that you can operate your burger van business with confidence and peace of mind.

By following these guidelines and familiarising yourself with the relevant regulations, you can set yourself up for success in the vibrant and growing market of mobile food businesses.

Whether you are serving up traditional burgers or innovative culinary creations, a well-run and compliant burger van can become a beloved fixture in the community and a profitable venture for years to come.

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