China License Qualification Certificate

Food Circulation Permit


Food Circulation Permit


As the market economy becomes more and more standardized, the legal system and food circulation supervision system become more and more complete. In order to fully implement food safety management, anyone who buys or sells food or provides catering services must comply with local laws and regulations. and regulatory requirements, apply for relevant filings or apply for a license.


I.Brief description of food business license

  • To engage legally in the food or catering-related industry, it’s not sufficient to only register the company and obtain a business license. One also needs to obtain a food business operation permit. A food business operation permit refers to a legal document issued by the local food management authority (such as the China Food and Drug Administration) to entities engaged in the sale of food and catering services. This permit is granted after a review and approval process and serves as the statutory certificate from the national health authority allowing the production and operation of food.
  • The food business operation permit is primarily used to regulate activities related to food business operations, enhance supervision and management of food business activities, and ensure food safety. Anyone engaged in the sale of food and catering services should obtain the relevant food business operation permit in accordance with local regulations. Additionally, the food business operation permit follows the principle of “one place, one certificate,” meaning that a food business operator conducting food business activities at a specific location should obtain one food business operation permit.

II.Which companies need to apply for food business license?

Here are several enterprises that need to apply for food business licenses:

  • 1.Enterprises applying for food business license must have fixed business premises, various enterprises engaged in wholesale or retail activities of pre-packaged food, bulk food (including non-staple food), individual industrial and commercial households, farmers’ professional cooperatives, etc. need to apply.
  • 2.If the branch of the enterprise is engaged in food business, the application for the mainland food certificate of each branch should be applied separately.
  • 3.If the same food business operator is engaged in food business activities at two or more locations, it shall apply separately according to the needs of different locations.
  • 4.Enterprises in other industries that want to sell pre-packaged food or bulk food need to apply for a food business license.
  • 5.A shop with a restaurant in the front and a kitchen in the back that sells processed food need to apply for a Food business license.
  • 6.Food producers and catering service providers need to apply for food certificates if the outlets they establish specially sales to sell self-produced processed foods.

III. Overview of food business licenses in various countries

  • China Food Business License
  • Enterprises engaged in wholesale or retail activities of prepackaged food and bulk food must apply for food registration in accordance with regulations. Those who sell other types of food, such as alcohol or catering service operators, must apply for a food business license.
    Before the reform of the food safety supervision system, segmented supervision was implemented. Operators engaged in food circulation and catering services were issued “Food Circulation License” and “Catering Service License” by the industrial and commercial department and the Food and Drug Administration respectively; after the reform, Food safety is subject to centralized and unified supervision, and the food circulation license and catering service license are integrated into the “Food Business License” to achieve ‘two licenses in one’, which has been activated simultaneously in China since January 1, 2016.
    China’s commercial system reform implements the “three certificates in one” system for enterprise registration. In the past, certificates and licenses were issued by the three departments of industry and commerce, quality inspection, and taxation. Since the approval agencies merged and reviewed, now the application for registration of the three food certificates for new enterprises no longer requires lengthy approval. time, greatly reducing the time required to apply for the three food certificates in China.
    According to the newly revised “Food Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China” in 2021, those engaged in food production, food sales, and catering services must obtain licenses in accordance with the law. However, no license is required for the sale of edible agricultural products and the sale of prepackaged foods only. Those who only sell pre-packaged food only need to register with the food safety supervision and administration department of the local people’s government.
  • China Application for Customs In-China Registration Code
    As of January 1, 2022, imported food for sale in China must undergo registration and obtain the in-China registration code from the overseas production enterprise, as per Customs Order No. 248 issued in 2021.
    China now mandates the inclusion of this in-China registration code on both inner and outer packaging of imported food, comprising a 4-character uppercase letter followed by a 14-digit number, known as the 18-digit registration number.
    Importers must ensure compliance by filling and labeling both inner and outer packaging when importing through customs.
    For food items falling within the eighteen categories, overseas production enterprises are advised to register with the General Administration of Customs through the competent authorities of their respective countries (regions).

  • Food business license application procedure
    1. The application for food business license must be applied by a legal entity.
    2. Space signs for storage/shopfront/ restaurants and layout in accordance with fire safety guidelines.
    3. Approval by the government approving unit on-site verification, if non-compliance is required to carry out improvement work until the approval unit approved. Apply to the food unit for the issuance of a food business license.
    4. After obtaining the license, you can start selling food or opening restaurants.
  • Taiwan food business login
  • According to the food business registration regulations, businesses engaged in food sales or catering related businesses must complete information registration and obtain a registration number before they can operate.
  • Vietnam food hygiene and safety license
  • When engaging in food trade wholesale and catering-related business activities in Vietnam, you must apply for a Vietnam food hygiene and safety license from the competent authority to prove that the enterprise fully meets the food safety and hygiene.
    Department of Health:Targeted at food processing and catering business services companies.
    Agriculture and Rural Development: Targeted at enterprises engaged in agriculture, forestry, and fishery production and operations.
    Ministry of Industry and Trade:For businesses or institutions that deal in food.
  • Japan Food Business License
  • The Japanese food safety license refers to the food safety license issued by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Food production or sales companies in Japan must apply for relevant licenses before operating.
  • The Food Hygiene Law stipulates that 34 industries can only open business after obtaining business licenses from various local governments, such as catering industry, food manufacturing industry, food sales industry, etc.
  • With many years of business experience, InterArea professionally handles all kinds of Chinese license applications and has a lot of practical experience in handling licenses. 
  • InterArea provides a one-stop service for Chinese company registration and has professionals to provide three food licenses or other related consultations for food import and export. Investors can truly target local businesses, allowing investors to invest with confidence and focus on business market development.

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