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Food Establishments & Hotels

Iowa’s online food licensing system allows those operating food and lodging establishments, food processing operations, and food-related events in Iowa to easily complete license applications and renewals online. 

License renewals can be made online providing the license is not more than 60 days overdue. New license applications can also be made online. Both Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) AND credit/debit card payments are accepted. There is a $1 transaction fee for bank transfers and a 2.5 percent transaction fee for credit and debit cards.

Licensing guides are available for each license type. For general instructions on submitting a license application for a new business, please view our guide for new food licenses.

Regulatory Authorities

Food safety inspections and foodborne illness/complaint investigations are conducted by State employees working for the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau, as well as inspectors working for local health departments under contract to the Department of Inspections and Appeals. See map and contact information.

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Regulatory authorities

Available Licenses

Farmer's markets are retail marketplaces which operate seasonally, principally as a common market for Iowa-produced farm products for consumption elsewhere. These include temporary food stands and establishments that sell potentially-hazardous foods, and excludes the sale of whole, fresh-shell eggs.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View our guidelines on renewing farmer's market licenses here.

Recommended time to apply is two weeks prior to the event, however, the application must be received at least three days prior to the intended operating date and license issued before the vendor begins operation.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the license expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Annual Cost

$150 for each vendor per county. A license must be obtained for each county where the vendor wants to sell potentially-hazardous foods.

These businesses include food processing plants and warehouse food storage locations. If an operation manufactures, packages, labels, or stores food for human consumption but does not sell directly to consumers, it falls within this category.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View the online food processing/food warehouse license renewal guide here.

Read the following Iowa Code chapters to learn more about the regulations surrounding inspections and safety for warehouse and storage operations.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and license issued before the establishment begins operation.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the license expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days prior to the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales of food/food products handled at the facility: $150-$500

New applications and renewal applications that do not include the previous year's gross sales will pay the maximum license registration fee of $500. 

Food service establishments include businesses such as restaurants, bars, concession stands, tap rooms, catering operations, and commissaries. A business falls under this category if the establishment prepares food to be served in individual portions, or if it sells food intended for preparation or consumption off the premises.

This category oes NOT include farmer's market food establishments, food processing plants, home bakeries, mobile food establishments (e.g., food trucks), retail food establishments (e.g., grocery stores), temporary food establishments, vending machines, or unattended food establishments. 

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

Read the following Iowa Code chapters to learn more about the regulations surrounding inspections and safety for food establishments.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and the license issued before the establishment begins operation.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the license expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications.

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales: $150-$400

New applications and renewal applications that do not include the previous year's gross sales will pay the maximum license registration fee of $400. 

This license enables and individual representing a nonprofit or other eligible organization, or an organization, to host, sponsor, or coordinate a temporary event with more than 10 food vendors (except fairs, as defined in Iowa Code Section 174.1, and farmers markets).

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

Read the following Iowa Code chapters to learn more about the regulations surrounding inspections and safety for events.

This application should be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the event.

The license is valid for the duration of the event, not to exceed 14 days.

Cost

One-time fee for the event: $50

These include home-based operations where potentially-hazardous baked goods are prepared and intended to be consumed off the premises. The prepared baked goods may be sold outside of the home or wholesaled to retailers like grocery stores and markets.

Annual gross sales of these products cannot exceed $35,000.

The home bakery food business classification does not include:

  1. A food establishment.
  2. A food-processing plant.
  3. A home where food is prepared for use or sales by churches, fraternal societies, charities, or other civic or nonprofit organizations.
  4. A home that prepares or distribute honey.
  5. A home that distributes shell eggs.
  6. A home that prepares foods that are not time/temperature controlled for safety, for sale at a farmers market.
  7. A home that prepares baked goods that are not time/temperature controlled for safety, sold directly from the residence. This exception does not apply to resale goods. This exception applies only to sales made from the residence in person and does not include mail order or Internet sales.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View the license renewal guide for home bakery licenses.

Read the following Iowa Code chapter to learn more about the regulations surrounding safety in home bakeries.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and a license issued before a home bakery operator may sell or distribute food in Iowa.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the license expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Annual Cost

Set annual fee: $50

This is a license to operate a hotel, motel, inn, or motor inn. Bed and breakfast inns are included in this license requirement.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View the online hotel license renewal guide here.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date, and license issued before the establishment begins operations.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Annual Cost

Based on number of available rooms: $50-$150

These include full-service food trucks or food service pushcarts that serve pre-cooked or pre-wrapped foods that require limited assembly.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View the mobile food unit license renewal guide here.

Read the following Iowa Code chapters to learn more about the regulations surrounding inspections and safety for food establishments.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and a license issued before the establishment begins operation.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Annual Cost

Set annual fee: $250

These include grocery stores or convenience stores. Some retail food establishments may also need a Food Service Establishment License; if your business is a grocery store that also serves hot, prepared meals dine-in or to-go, it needs both licenses.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

Read the following Iowa Code Chapters to learn more about the regulations surrounding inspections and safety for food establishments.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and license issued before the establishment begins operation.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the license expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications.

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales: $150-$400

New applications and renewal applications that do not include the previous year's annual gross sales will pay the maximum license registration fee of $400. 

These include food establishments operating for a period of 14 consecutive days or fewer at a fair, festival craft show, vendor show, or other events. 

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

Read the following Iowa Code Chapters to learn more about the regulations surrounding inspections and safety for food establishments.

Recommended time to apply is two weeks prior to the event, however, the application must be received at least three days prior to the intended operating date and license issued before the vendor begins operation.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Cost

Issued for up to 14 days in conjunction with a single event: $50-$200

Annual Temporary Food Establishments

An Annual Temporary Food Establishment License is an annual license that is valid for more than one event in the county for which it was issued. A separate license application must be submitted for each county where a vendor will operate a Temporary Food Establishment in conjunction with an event. Persons who operate simultaneously at more than one event within a county are required to have a separate license for each food stand.

This type of food business requires a Food Establishment License. You can apply for one using our USA Food Safety portal.

Applications must be received at least 30 days prior to the first event at which the vendor intends to operate. Annual Temporary Food Establishment License applications that are not received, processed, and approved prior to operating will require a single event temporary food license until the annual license is approved and issued.

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications. 

Annual Cost

For each vendor per county: $200

These include any operations that provide packaged foods or whole fruit by allowing consumers to use an automated payment system. These establishments will have controlled access not accessible by the general public, meaning that the location of the operation or the consumers using it will be limited. Examples include self-service snack bars that require payment in offices or within college campuses.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View the license renewal guide for unattended food establishments here.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and a license issued before the establishment begins operation. 

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications and renewals are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications.

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales: $75-$150

New applications and renewal applications that do not include the previous year's gross sales will pay the maximum fee of $150. 

Vending machines are defined in Iowa Food Code as self-service food devices that dispense units of food in packages when a user inserts paper money, coins, tokens, cards, or keys.

If your vending machine dispenses only prepackaged foods that are not time or temperature sensitive (like hard-coated candies, gumballs, and nuts), it is exempt from licensing requirements. Please note that vending machines that fit these criteria may still be inspected by the Department of Inspections and Appeals if they receive a written complaint.

Apply online via the USA Food Safety portal.

View the vending machine license renewal guide here.

Application must be received at least 30 days prior to the intended operating date and license issued before the establishment operates. 

Renewal applications and fees must be received prior to the expiration date. Renewals can be submitted up to 60 days before the license expiration date.

Online applications are preferred, and are processed faster than paper applications.

Annual Cost

Based on number of machines: First machine is $50, each additional machine is $10

Certificate of Free Sale or Sanitation

Those selling products outside the U.S. will need a Certificate of Free Sale or Sanitation. The certificate indicates the particular product(s) is marketed in the U.S. or eligible for export. The first certificate costs $35 (both English and Spanish language versions), and each additional identical certificate requested at the same time is $10.

Certificates are issued only for products regulated or inspected by DIA's Food and Consumer Safety Bureau. Payment is required before certificates are issued.

Complete the Certificate of Free Sale Order Form online. Then, either pay via credit card and submit online, or print the fillable form and mail with check/money order to DIA. Submit one order form per identical certificate request, regardless of the number of certificates needed.

Please allow five to 10 business days for completion. Certificates are mailed via the U.S. Postal Service. For anyone who wishes for their certificates be mailed via express mailing, a shipping label is required. If you have any questions, please contact Brian Church at 515.281.5796 or exportcert@dia.iowa.gov.

Voluntary Inspection Fee

Premises that are not food establishments may request an inspection. The cost for a voluntary inspection is $100. Contact us with questions.