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Food & Lodging Business Licensing

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 past the expiration date. 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.

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. Each Iowa county where a food stand operates will require a separate license for farmers market time/temperature control for safety food license. This 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.

Annual Cost

Set annual fee for each county of operation, or fee for each location if multiple simultaneous locations in one county: $150

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 our 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.

Annual Cost

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

Food service establishments include businesses such as restaurants, bars, concession stands, and catering companies. 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.

Apply online using the USA Food Safety portal

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

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales: $150-$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). The license is valid for the duration of the event, not to exceed 14 days.

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

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

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.

The home bakery food business classification does not include homes where food is prepared for use or sales by churches, societies, charities, or other nonprofit organizations. Also, if you prepare or distribute honey, shell eggs, or non-potentially hazardous foods, you are not required to have a home bakery license.

Apply online at DIA's USA Food Safety portal. View our license renewal guide for home bakery licenses.

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

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.

The annual license fee for a Hotel License ranges from $50 to $150, depending on the number of available rooms. Apply for your new or renewal license via the USA Food Safety portal. View our online hotel license renewal guide here.

Annual Cost

Based on occupancy: $50-$150

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

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

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.

Grocery stores and convenience stores require a Retail Food Establishment License. You can apply for one using our USA Food Safety portal.

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

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales: $150-$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. 

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

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

Annual Cost

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

This type of business requires an Unattended Food Establishment License. You can apply for one using our USA Food Safety portal. View our license renewal guide for unattended food establishments here.

Annual Cost

Based on annual gross sales: $75-$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.

Vending machines that dispense foods beyond safety-controlled foods like gumballs and nuts require a Vending Machine License, which you can apply for using our USA Food Safety portal. View our vending machine license renewal guide here.

Annual Cost

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

Certificate of Free Sale

Those selling products outside the U.S. will need a Certificate of Free Sale or Sanitation. The first certificate costs $35, and each additional certificate requested at the same time is $10. View our instructions to request a Certificate of Free Sale here.

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.