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10 Permits and Licenses Needed To Open A Bakery

Confused about what bakery licenses and permits you need? This guide spotlights 10 licenses to obtain before opening your bakery.

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Bakery Licenses and Permits

DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

A list of licenses and permits that you need to open up your bakery and how you can obtain each of them.

A great bakery can become a community staple or online sensation. The most successful bakeries connect with customers using strong marketing strategies like social media and unique branding.

There are more than 9,000 bakeries alone in the United States as of 2021, consisting of both retail and commercial bakeries. And the bakery industry is expected to grow over the next decade. With the landscape of bakeries ever-changing, you’ll need to start with the nitty gritty details like figuring out your overall concept, choosing the perfect location, and getting all of your licensing taken care of.

Obtaining all of the required bakery permits and licenses will take patience, organization, and a decent amount of paperwork on your part. Getting approval for each one will take time. And while this type of administrative work may not be every restaurateur’s bread and butter, it’s entirely necessary to avoid fines and delays. This guide covers the business licenses and permits you’ll need to open your bakery.


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What Do You Need to Open a Bakery?

1. Business License

A business license is needed to open and run any kind of business in the United States. This will be the first step towards opening your new bakery.

This license is what gives you legal permission to actually operate your bakery in your city and state, allowing you to buy and sell goods, hire staff, and more. And depending on where you’re located, you might be required to pay a percentage of your sales, or an annual fee.

How to Get a Business License

Do a quick search for your state + business license on Google. You’ll follow the application process steps as they can be found on your state government website. And remember that you need to renew your license annually.

How Much Does a Business License Cost?

The registration fee will typically cost $50. The cost of the actual license can range from $50 to $200. Costs can vary based on your location, expected profit, and the type of business you’re opening.

2. Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Businesses need to have an employee identification number (EIN) to legally operate in the United States. An EIN is essentially a tax ID number that’s assigned by the IRS. Take note — the IRS only issues one EIN a day per “responsible party.”

How to Get an EIN

Apply for an EIN through the IRS website, by fax, via mail, or over the phone.

How Much Does an EIN Cost?

Obtaining an EIN is completely free!

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3. Resale Permit

A resale permit will allow your bakery to make specific purchases such as wholesale goods or inventory without needing to pay sales tax. This helps prevent a double collection of sales tax on wholesale goods. So instead of collecting sales tax when you buy the product, the sales tax is collected when your customer purchases it.  Your state will require you to report the sales tax collected on a regular basis.

How to Get a Resale Permit

The application process for a resale permit is different in each state. You’ll want to search for the resale license office number in your state that you’ll need to submit an application through. Many states also have online application processes as well.

How Much Does a Resale Permit Cost?

This permit can run from $0 to $50.

4. Food Handler’s Permit

A food handler’s permit is going to be key to the running of your bakery. This permit serves as certification that you have completed a food safety course that’s approved by your state or county. Employees who directly handle food should also have this permit.

How to Get a Food Handler’s Permit

This permit is obtained by taking an accredited course, like ServSafe, and completing the associated exam. There are online and in-person courses available, but be sure to check with your local health department to see which courses are approved in your location.

How Much Does a Food Handler’s Permit Cost?

You can expect to pay $5 to $30 for a course, but costs can vary depending on where you are.

5. Building Health Permit

A building health permit means that the building you’re operating in has been inspected. This permit is usually overseen by the state or county health department and helps to ensure that businesses that cook and sell food to the public are meeting safety regulations. If you need this permit for your bakery, you can expect periodic inspections.

How to Get a Building Health Permit

You may not need a building health permit since they’re not required by all states. To learn more about your state’s policies surrounding a building health permit, go ahead and Google your state name and “building health permit.”

How Much Does a Building Health Permit Cost?

Cost for a health permit will vary based on your state but you can expect it to range from $50 to $1,000.

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6. Dumpster Placement Permit

While not the most glamorous bakery permit to discuss, it’s a crucial one. A dumpster placement permit allows your bakery to have a state dumpster easily accessible for your kitchen to dispose of food waste properly. Cost will depend on factors like size, placement, and bakery location.

How to Get a Dumpster Placement Permit

To find out if you need a dumpster placement permit, google your city and “dumpster placement permit.” You’ll be able to find out which organization handles this permit in your city and you’ll typically be able to access the required forms online.

How Much Does a Dumpster Placement Permit Cost?

The cost of a dumpster permit can range between $10 to $100 a week.


7. Food Service License

A food service license is needed for any business, bakery, or restaurant that’s serving food. The type of food service license you need may differ slightly if you have seating available to your customers.

How to Get a Food Service License

Do a quick search for your local health department. You'll apply for this permit through the health department either in person or online.

How Much Does a Food Service License Cost?

This permit can range from $100 to $1,000.


8. Sign Permit

Signage communicates a lot about your bakery branding. But before you get to putting up your sign, you’re going to need a sign permit from the city. Each city has certain specifications tied to size, lighting, and location of signs.

How to Get a Sign Permit

In most places, your local government or municipal office will need to approve any outdoor sign you want to put up.

How Much Does a Sign Permit Cost?

 A sign permit will typically cost between $20 and $50.

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9. Assumed Business Name/DBA

You’ll need to apply for an assumed business name if you’re planning on operating your bakery under a name that isn’t its legal name (i.e. what you’ll be filing on your tax return for the business).

How to Get an Assumed Business Name

The application process for an assumed business name will vary. You’ll need to visit your county clerk’s office to file and fill out any required paperwork. Google your state or county and “assumed business name” or “doing business as (DBA)” to research the specific office you’ll need to visit.

How Much Does an Assumed Business Name Cost?

Expect this permit to cost anywhere from $5 to $50.


10.Certificate of Occupancy

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your bakery is where it will be located. And once your location has passed its final building inspection, the zoning or building department in your city will hand off a certificate of occupancy to you. This certificate validates that the building has been maintained, inspected, and properly constructed.

How to Get a Certificate of Occupancy

As with many of these bakery business licenses, the procedures for a certificate of occupancy can vary based on location as well as the building’s structure itself. Do a search for your state and certificate of occupancy and follow the steps as outlined on your state government’s website.

How Much Does a Certificate of Occupancy Cost?

This certificate will usually cost $100.

Licenses and Permit Laws in the US

Licenses and permits for bakeries vary based on location, as you’ve no doubt learned throughout this guide. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the city, county, or state you live in determines your license requirements and fees: “States tend to regulate a broader range of activities than the federal government.” 

As a future bakery owner, you’ll need to research your own individual state, county, and city regulations, since all will vary depending on your bakery’s location. Visiting your state’s website can help you find out what permits and licenses you’ll need.

And make sure to keep your licenses current. According to the SBA, “some licenses and permits expire after a set period of time. Keep close track of when you need to renew them — it's often easier to renew than it is to apply for a new one.” Keeping up to date on your licenses ensures that your bakery can operate without interruptions.

Here are a few tips for getting bakery licenses and permits in Florida and California. Note that the following sections provide examples of state-specific requirements, and are not comprehensive lists of all licenses you might need in each state.


Getting Bakery Licenses and Permits in Florida

To get a permanent food service license in Florida, you’ll need to first choose between a seating license and a non-seating license according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

A seating license, according to the DBPR, is “a type of food service license for a permanent structure that includes seats for customers to eat or ‘dine in,’” while a non-seating license is “a type of food service license for a permanent structure that does not include any seating under the control of the food service.” Seating licenses are the most common type of food service license.

To acquire a bakery license in Florida, the steps include:

  • Creating a DBPR Online account.

  • Applying for and completing a plan review.

  • Applying for the license and paying the license fee.

  • Scheduling and passing the licensing inspection.


Getting Bakery Licenses and Permits in California

When you’re opening a food service establishment in California, you’ll want to check the California Business Portal and their quick start guide for restaurants, bakeries, and bars. You’ll need a business license first and you can get in touch with your city or county for more information.

You’ll also need to ensure you’re abiding by the California Retail Food Code and the California Health and Safety Code, which details the requirements for food safety including “the hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils, food storage, and janitorial facilities.”

Another important certification that the California Health and Safety Code establishes is that “at least one employee must be certified in food safety by passing an approved Food Safety Certification examination, and all other employees involved in the preparation, storage, or service of food in a food facility must obtain a Food Handler Card.”

Your Next Steps

Obtaining necessary bakery business licenses is a startup cost you’ll need to invest in. Your permits are most likely going to cost well over $1,000. This cost should be factored into your startup numbers and metrics. Be sure to plan ahead as getting all of your licenses approved can take 2-3 months or longer.

All the details, from a POS system to the bakery permits and licenses you need to have in place before doors open, are an exciting investment into your bakery. They’ll help get you well on your way to opening up your dream business. Start your planning with our free bakery business plan template.

If you’re feeling ready, go ahead and begin your paperwork now. Find your local requirements for bakery licenses and permits here

Keep in mind that these are just some of the bakery permits and licenses you’ll have to obtain to open and operate in a legal capacity. Laws and regulations tied to each license will vary based on your location.

Be sure to research the different permits and licenses you’ll need for your bakery at all levels — including city, state, and federal. The process might seem overwhelming and time consuming, but with all your Ts crossed and your Is dotted, you’ll be ready to start selling delicious baked goods before you know it.

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