Licensing Overview

The Department currently issues licenses to a variety of food-based businesses or establishments in New York State. The type of licenses issued are dependent on the food processing done at the establishment. Licenses can range from complex operations associated with the manufacturing, processing, handling, rendering, and/or packaging of various types of food, to the storing or sale of closed/sealed foods and beverages.

If you are seeking a license for a food service establishment, read below to determine what kind of establishment you have and what kind of license you need.

Food Processor

Article 20-C Food Processing Establishment licenses apply to food manufactures, processing plants, wholesale bakeries, and retail food establishments (i.e. grocery stores) that conduct any type of food preparation including but not limited to meat and cheese slicing, heating foods, sandwich making, operating beverage dispensing machines, and preparing sushi, salad bars, or other ready-to-eat exposed food packaging activity.

If your establishment processes food through one of the methods below, you need an Article 20-C Food Processing Establishment license. Note: this list is not exhaustive.

  • Cooking, boiling, broiling, frying, grilling, freezing, drying, roasting, heating, or reheating food
    • Note: this includes cooking fish or other seafood; cooking or re-heating pretzels, lasagnas, pizza, nachos, soups, or meat pies; popping popcorn; melting chocolate; coating chicken wings; or cooking meat products, hot dogs, meat loaf, sausage, or eggs
  • Blending spice, herbs, or seasonings at retail or wholesale
  • Mincing/grinding/slicing/curing/brining poultry, meat, cheese, fish, vegetables, fruit, bagels, bread, etc.
  • Grating cheeses
  • Using a cappuccino machine
  • Baking bread, rolls, pastries, pies, cookies, etc.
    • Note: this includes wholesale or retail in-store bakery operations, including bake-off operations
  • Preserving fruits or vegetables, including jams, jellies, chutneys, salsa, sauces, etc.
  • Canning or pickling fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.
  • Bottling oils or drinks including soft drinks, shakes, fresh fruit juices, coffee, teas, apple cider, etc.
  • Repacking uncooked foods or ready-to-eat foods, salads, fruit, dried fruit, dried vegetables, cereals, granola, nuts, yogurt cups, exposed candy, cheese curds, cooked or dry pasta, ready-to-eat vegetables, etc.
  • Roasting meats, coffee, nuts, or barbecue chicken, ribs, or beef
  • Preparing or mixing ready-to-eat salads, such as tuna, chicken, egg, mixed foods, meats, pasta dishes, etc.
  • Stuffing sausage into casings
  • Smoking fish, meat and meat products, cheeses, etc.
  • Pickling or marinating fish, herrings, meat, poultry, vegetables, cabbage, fruit, olives
  • Dehydrating fruit, vegetables, beef, chicken, pork, jerky, fish, herbs, and spices
  • Catering off-site service of foods prepared at establishment
  • Freezing foods, including frozen dessert machines, ice cream, yogurt, slush, ice milk, shaved ice, serving dish or cone hard ice cream, retail ice production, and packaging

Note: If you have a food service operation (such as a restaurant, café, pizza shop), contact your local health department.



    The following processing facilities are exempt from 20-C Licensing. These facilities must still adhere to good manufacturing practices (GMPs).

    • Licensed by State Liquor Authority as Farm Winery

    • Licensed by State Liquor Authority as Farm Cidery
    • Licensed by State Liquor Authority as Farm Brewery
    • Licensed by State Liquor Authority as Farm Distiller
    • Honey Producers
    • Maple Syrup Processors
    • Hop Processors
    • Home Processors
    • Slicing & Packaging of Cheese at Farmer's Market
    • Malt Houses/Malting Operations

    See 1 NYCRR: 276.4 for further details.

    Food Processor Application


      Application for Food Processing Establishment License - Article 20-C

      This application is for food manufactures, processing plants, wholesale bakeries and retail food establishments (i.e., grocery stores) that conduct any type of food preparation including but not limited to, meat and cheese slicing, heating foods, sandwich making, operating beverage dispensing machines, and preparing sushi, salad bars, or other ready to eat exposed food packaging activity.



    Retail Food Store

    This license applies to any retail food store within New York where food and food products are offered to the consumer and intended for off-premises consumption and conducts no food processing as defined in the "food processor" section above. This includes stores that sell fluid milk, shell eggs, and refrigerated meats.

    Read laws relating to retail food store licensing.


    This license applies to any food warehouse facility within New York in which food is held for commercial distribution. If you are a warehouse that stores/distributes food (excluding Raw Agriculture Commodities (RACs), you need a 28-D license.

    Read the law relating to warehouse licensing.

    Food Salvager

    This license applies to any business that receives distress or damaged food or food use products for reconditioning, culling, and/or sorting for the purpose of resale of satisfactory products. If you are a food salvager, you need a 17-B license.

    Read the law relating to food salvaging licensing.

    Refrigerated Warehouse/Locker

    This license applies to a facility that offers refrigerated storage space for rent in their building for the storage of food commodities or produce owned by other businesses. The commodities being held must be lot coded and not held for over two years without approval for extended storage.

    Note: 'Produce only' facilities pay a reduced license fee.

    If you own a refrigerated warehouse or locker that stores/distributes refrigerated foods, you need a 19 license.

    Read the law relating to refrigerated facilities.

    Disposal/Transportation Licensing

    This license applies to disposal plants that process animals or inedible meat for other than human consumption.

    It also applies businesses that operate a transportation service for the purpose of transporting for hire unprocessed animal bodies or meat products not intended for human consumption.

    Read the law relating to disposal and transportation licensing.


    To obtain a copy of the 5A License application packet, please contact your regional office to obtain a 5A New Applicant Information packet which includes the 5A slaughterhouse regulations and a checklist of items required as per regulation. Required items include the submission of a floor plan or blueprints depicting the layout of the facility equipment, room separation, sinks, etc.

    The 5A license application will be provided to an applicant only after the submitted applicant checklist (including applicable supporting documentation) has been reviewed and approved by Department supervision. 

    We recommend that you apply for your license at least eight weeks prior to your planned opening date. Additionally, the establishment must have an inspection with no critical deficiencies on file before the license can be issued.

    If you move your business, you need to apply for a new license and be inspected at the new location. 


    Live Poultry Markets in New York City

    For new construction of a live poultry market, the location must be outside of a 1,500 foot radius from a residential dwelling (required for slaughter facilities in a city with a population of one million or more). Official documentation from a licensed surveyor or contractor is required to verify compliance.

    If you will be taking over ownership of an existing market, the 1,500 foot verification is not required provided there is no significant time between the change of ownership when the firm is closed.

    In both instances, the location must be zoned for slaughterhouse operations by the NYC Department of Buildings. Written documentation stating the building use is approved for live animal slaughter is required.


    Processing Deer

    Only captive raised deer, slaughtered, and processed under a 5A license may be placed into commerce. 

    Individuals, and some licensed food businesses, may offer custom butchering of game animals. This is done as a service for the owner of the animal, for personal consumption. For firms that hold a license with the Department, a variance form must be on file with the Department to ensure the proper handling of meat products. Custom butchered product in any form cannot be offered for sale.

    Alcohol Manufacturers

    In addition to being appropriately licensed by the State Liquor Authority, alcohol manufacturers may also need to obtain a 20-C Food Processing Establishment License.

    If a business only has a "Farm" type license from the State Liquor Authority, it is exempted from the food processing licensing requirement. However, the business must comply with good manufacturing practices and may be subjected to a sanitary inspection from the Department.

    Please view a recorded webinar outlining the licensing process for alcohol manufacturers, and look at the resources below in order to determine what kind of license your business needs. If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Food Safety and Inspection.

    Obtain a Process Review

    A process review (scheduled process) is required for any food products manufactured in New York State for which a critical control point is necessary to address any or all public health hazards associated with the products.

    The critical control point may be identified at any step in the process after review by a recognized authority.

    The process review (scheduled process) must outline, at a minimum, recipe testing/formulation, critical control points (to avoid contamination and control hazards), processing steps, storage requirements, and distribution and selling conditions/restrictions.

    A process review of your new product can be obtained by contacting any of the recognized food processing authorities listed here.

    Reduced Oxygen Packaging at Retail

    It is vital that food establishment personnel understand safe food handling practices as they relate to food that will be packaged in a reduced oxygen environment. A reduced oxygen environment (or vacuum packaging) is a concern for the Clostridium botulinum, an anaerobic bacterium which can produce a deadly neurotoxin if food products are not handled properly. Due to this risk, only certain foods that are at a reduced risk for Clostridium botulinum may be packaged in a reduced oxygen packaging.

    Approval from the Department must be granted to any establishment looking to conduct reduced oxygen packaging processing. Food establishments are not authorized to conduct reduced oxygen packing of food product until approval is granted by the Department. To obtain Department approval, return the completed forms linked below to [email protected].

    Requesting a Variance

    A variance for an operator to conduct certain operation can be requested from the Department by completing a variance request form. Approval from the Department must be granted to an establishment prior to conducting the requested process. To obtain Department approval, please read and return the appropriate completed variance request form linked below. The Basic Processing Variance Request form may be completed only for the operations listed on this form. For processing variance request is for any other process, complete the Processing Variance Request form and submit with support documents, such as a process review. Completed forms should be sent to [email protected].

    Contact Food Safety and Inspection Regional Offices

    Contact us by phone:

    Albany Office  (518) 457-4492
    Buffalo Office  (716) 847-3185
    Hauppauge Office  (631) 952-3079
    Metro New York and Long Island Office  (718) 722-2876
    New Windsor Office  (845) 220-2047
    Rochester Office  (585) 427-2273
    Syracuse Office  (315) 487-0852

    Mailing Address:

    Albany Office (serving Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington Counties)


    10B Airline Drive
    Albany, New York 12235


    Buffalo Office (serving Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties)


    Electric Tower Building, 2nd floor, Suite 203
    535 Washington Street
    Buffalo, New York 14203


    Hauppauge Office (Serving Suffolk County)


    Suffolk State Office Building, Room 13A, 4th Floor
    250 Veteran’s Memorial Highway
    Hauppauge, New York 11788


    Metro New York and Long Island Office (Serving Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Nassau, New York (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), and Suffolk Counties)


    55 Hanson Place – 3rd Floor – Room 378

    Brooklyn, New York 11217-1583


    New Windsor Office (Serving Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, Westchester, and Sullivan Counties)


    103 Executive Drive, 3rd Floor, Suite 300
    New Windsor, New York 12553


    Rochester Office (Serving Allegany, Cayuga, Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates Counties)


    1530 Jefferson Road
    Rochester, New York 14623


    Syracuse Office (Serving Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Franklin, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, and St. Lawrence Counties)


    New York State Fairgrounds
    Art & Home Center
    581 State Fair Boulevard
    Syracuse, New York 13209


    For all unlisted counties, please contact the Albany Office.