Take your homemade food business online

Castiron is a software platform purpose-built to help independent food artisans start, build, and grow their businesses.

Sign Up (It's Free!)

Risk-free to start.
And forever after that.

Castiron is 100% free for artisans to use. We know how important a professional digital presence is, which is why our platform is free forever. And because we know you’re wondering, we make money when you make money, applying a small transaction fee that’s paid at checkout.

Launch Your Free Store

What we do for you

We’ve tailored Castiron to fit the needs of kitchen-based creators who are selling their products to family, friends, and followers through word-of-mouth and social media. After a superfast setup (if you can create a social media profile, you can set up a Castiron shop!), you’ll have a single place to sell, manage orders, and communicate with customers.

Get Started

Build a Customized Shop

No code required. Add products, upload your logo, share your story, and link to your social profiles from your flexible store.

Make Buying Painless

Never track down a payment or oversell products again. Real-time inventory tracking and secure payment processing make life easier for you and your customers.

Promote Without the Effort

With our magical marketing tools, email and social media marketing are on autopilot. We make it easy to promote your latest products and deals.

Cottage Food License

If you are just getting started selling food from home, you might be okay flying under the radar for a couple of weeks. But the more you sell your goods and the greater your audience gets, the more you put yourself at risk for running against the law. Cottage food laws will exist in some form or fashion in every state and just about every cottage food law will require sellers to obtain a cottage food license.

So yes, the answer to do I need a license to sell homemade food is a resounding yes in almost every city, state, and county. The good news is that most jurisdictions have made the process for how to get a license to sell food and how to get a permit to sell food from home fairly straightforward. This is because cottage industries and home start-ups have been a big part of the American economy since even before its official founding; since when the first colonies got started.

The following article is going to provide a more in-depth overview of what sellers can expect as they join this exciting tradition of making and selling food from home in terms of making sure they are abiding by local laws and obtaining the right cottage food license and permit. 

Cottage Food Law

Cottage food laws do vary across states and even counties within those states. However, no matter where you live, you can expect the following common cottage food law elements:

  • Provisions outlining what types of cottage food products are allowed along with a list of what types of products are distinctly disallowed. For example, many places either won't' allow or strictly limit the selling of home-canned foods due to safety concerns regarding botulism. 
  • Stipulations on where cottage food products can be sold with the cottage food permit. This area of the cottage food law will usually offer different advisement on both the sale of food offline and online. For example, in the state of Florida, cottage food producers can sell their products online but only if they deliver the sold product in person. Thus, Floridians will see a lot of "subscription box" types of offerings in which cottage food producers will have their own delivery drivers and systems through which they will consistently deliver a set package of products.
  • A full list of the required registration, licensing, and permits needed to sell food made from home. This part of the cottage food law will also typically outline how a seller can obtain a cottage food permit and licensure. 
  • The amount of revenue a producer can generate from their home. For this one, at a certain point in many states and localities, if a homemade food vendor starts selling over a certain threshold, they will then have to transition into a more comprehensive commercial facility. Some states will have different stipulations depending upon where the vendor sells their foods. For example, South Dakota has no annual revenue cap on foods sold at roadside stands, farmers' markets, or other such events, but they do have a $5,000 annual cap for baked goods sold out of the vendor's own home. 
  • Labeling provisions that outline what products must be labeled in a cottage food business and what must be included in those labeling. 

In addition to all of these provisions, most states will have different tiers or types of cottage food producers and each tier or type will have its own set of the above laws.

For example, a home-based bakery will have different labeling provisions and licensing requirements than someone selling dried fruits. This is because a home-based bakery will have more safety concerns and thus will often need to undergo food safety courses or permitting procedures to prove to the local jurisdiction that they are following safe procedures regarding the storage and usage of things like dairy products. 

Cottage food laws are thus important to keep the general population safe while simultaneously giving sellers a framework through which to be successful. After all, a home-based bakery that can't prove it is following good food safety protocols isn't going to attract a lot of customers. By getting a cottage food permit and undergoing any requisite safety courses, that same home-based bakery can give customers a level of assurance and trust. That is just good business sense for everyone. 

Cottage Food License Application

Once you have looked through your state and county laws regarding what is allowed and what isn't, you are ready to start the cottage food license application. What type of information is needed to obtain a permit to sell food from home will vary, but in general, you can expect the application process to ask you the following key information:

  • Your full name and/or what "name" you are using to do business as.
  • The corporate name if you are registered with the Secretary of State's office in your state.
  • The county you reside in.
  • Full street and mailing address.
  • Your other contact information (phone and email address).
  • The type of ownership you have or are seeking to have with your cottage food business. Are you selling as an individual or have you made a partnership with another food producer? Is this a joint venture?
  • If you are looking to sell cottage food as anything other than an individual, you will typically be asked for a list of all other owners, officers, or co-sellers with each one's full name and contact information. 
  • The application will list out several prerequisites for which you will have to check and sign acknowledging you have done your research and completed any necessary courses/surveys. For example, typical prerequisites here include a sign and dated acknowledgment that you have checked with your local city and county governments to ensure you are permissible to operate through them and acknowledgment that your home meets local public utilities' approval for sewage and disposal. You may also be asked to attach proof of other prerequisites, such as a copy proving you completed an accredited food safety training course and copies of lab results where private wells have been tested for contaminants. 
  • There will also be a list of responsibilities each cottage food seller must acknowledge and sign. By confirming these responsibilities, you acknowledge that you can be held responsible should you break them. For example, most states will require that cottage food products can only be sold to end customers. Breach of this rule by selling to a third-party or distributor will put you at risk for fines and withdrawal of your rights to sell in the future. 
  • Either a box where you check out what type of products you intend to sell or a box where you explain which products you intend to sell.

Finally, when you sign and complete the cottage food license application for your state, you will almost always be offering the state permission for the Department of Agriculture to access the places where you manufacture, process, pack, or otherwise store food and ingredients related to your operation. 

While some of these things may seem invasive, remember that all of them are aspects intended to keep the consumer safe. By proving you are capable of responsible and safe manufacture of home-based foods, you earn the confidence of the public at large. The penalty for selling food without a permit can also be high and in some cases may lose you the ability to sell your wares altogether. 

How long does it take to get a cottage food license? This will depend upon your state but generally, so long as the information you submit on the cottage food license application is correct and complete, sellers can expect a 4 to 6-week wait. Thus, it is best to start the food application process as soon as you can. 

Cottage Business License

Let's take a look more specifically at the requirements different places in the United States have for obtaining a cottage food business license:

Minnesota

Everyone looking to obtain a cottage food license MN is required to undergo specialized training. This training is specific to the state's Cottage Food Law and must be re-taken every three years if you want to continue selling food from home in Minnesota. At the end of the training, you'll be able to apply for your cottage business license and permits. 

Wisconsin

Wisconsin, as we noted in a previous article, recently changed its allowance for certain cottage foods via lawsuit. It remains the only state that has successfully done so. Most specifically this law pertains to running a home bakery in Wisconsin and allowing individuals to get a Wisconsin home bakery license. 

Whether you are a home bakery or not, all cottage food sellers will have to undergo a Wisconsin food license application. The Wisconsin food license cost will depend upon what type of food you sell, how much food you plan to sell, and the size of the facility in which you plan to sell it. Read this Wisconsin food processing guide and cost list for a more detailed breakdown. 

Washington 

The answer to both do I need a license to sell homemade food in Washington state and do I need a license to sell food from home in Washington state is yes. Obtaining a cottage food license in Washington state is a complicated affair, almost as complicated as getting a commercial license. Whether you're selling home-made foods or selling produce in Washington state, you will need a business license, the business plan outlined in the cottage food application, approved recipes, home inspection, and pay both an initial and annual fee of around $240. 

Additional Resources

Cottage Food Law Michigan | Cottage Food Law Wisconsin | Cottage Food Laws Florida | Cottage Food License | Cottage Food Sales Tax | Cottage Industry Laws | Home Food Laws | Laws About Selling Homemade Food | Laws on Selling Food From Home | License to Cook and Sell Food From Home | Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations | Permit to Sell Food From Home | Permit to Sell Food From Home California | Rules for Selling Food From Home


You're serious about your food business. We are too.

Tired of taking orders through DMs and payments through Venmo? Focus on the food, we'll handle the rest. Castiron is the powerfully simple platform that culinary artisans use to start, build, and grow their businesses.

Sign Up (It's Free!)