Licensing & Legislation

Are you are starting a new food business or taking over an existing food business?  Then you may need a food business licence. To assist you, we offer information for new and existing food licenses, illegal operations and the permits required for footpath and outdoor dining.

Food Vehicles

Food vehicles that prepare and sell food within their vehicles are subjected to the same requirements as commercial food premises. Food vehicles that only sell pre-packaged food items are exempted from licensing requirements. Refer to the Food Vehicle Guideline for further information on the fit-out of your food vehicle.

Application for a mobile food vehicle licence (PDF)

Outdoor Dining

Council regulates outdoor dining to ensure that activities are carried out in a safe manner for diners, pedestrians and road-users. Council is required to monitor the standard of operations in food premises that provide outdoor dining. Compliance with requirements of the Outdoor Dining Policy and associated Guidelines will assist you in providing a safe outdoor dining environment.

Domestic Kitchen Licence

Standards apply to all household kitchens used for the preparation of food offered for sale to the public at markets, fetes and other similar events. Townsville City Council has a minimum set of standards of operational and structural requirements that domestic kitchens must meet to ensure the production and sale of safe food.

Anyone who sells food must ensure that it is safe to eat and that the Food Standards Code is applied to the operations and construction of the domestic kitchen business.

Temporary Food Stalls

Temporary food stalls are an important feature at many festivals, fetes and markets. Temporary food stalls can pose a higher risk to consumers than restaurants due to their temporary nature. Therefore it is important to ensure your stall is setup and operating in compliance with the Food Safety Standards. Any person or company who sells unpackaged food by retail at a stall of a temporary nature; examples include BBQ, hot chips or hot dog vendor.

Non-Profit Organisations

Non-profit organisations are required to be licensed if they provide meals at a particular place on at least 12 or more days each financial year.


  • A restaurant, open daily to the public, operated by a sporting club to raise revenue for the club
  • A non-profit organisation preparing and selling meals to homeless persons at a homeless persons hostels
  • The preparation of meals by Meals on Wheels
  • Mobile food van (providing meals) at a sporting ground.

The definition of “meal” under the Food Act 2006 includes food that:

  • Is or is intended to be eaten by a person sitting at a table or fixed structure used as a table with cutlery and
  • Is of adequate substance as to be ordinarily accepted as a meal.

If a non-profit organisation is not deemed to be preparing a “meal” outlined above, then it is not considered a licensable food business. This definition exempts sausage sizzles from requiring a licence.

Download the not-for-profit nomination form for temporary food stalls.

If your non-profit organisation is preparing meals 12 or more times a year, please contact council's Environmental Health Unit on 13 48 10 to determine which licence fee is applicable.

Illegal Operation of a Food Business

The primary reason for licensing requirements is to ensure that businesses produce safe and suitable food. Unlicensed businesses:

  • Have reduced operating costs and therefore create an uneven playing field for businesses that are licensed; and
  • Increase the risk of food borne illness if there is improper food handling practices.

If you believe a business is operating without a licence, contact council and advise us with as many details as possible including the trading name, address, types of foods sold and the day or time they were operating.

Council follows up on any unlicensed food businesses by ensuring they apply for appropriate licensing and taking enforcement action where necessary. Penalties for operating a food business are up to $117,800 or two years imprisonment.

Further Information