The goal of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Food Safety program is to ensure the safe handling of food served to the public by working with restaurant operators to reduce the occurrence of risk factors that may cause foodborne illnesses. VDH collaborates with food establishments to provide safe and satisfying food service to the people of the Commonwealth. Here, restaurant owners, operators, managers and even employees can find details about permitting, inspections, training and other resources about food safety.
If you have a question about your food establishment that cannot be answered here, don’t hesitate to contact your local Environmental Health Office or Ask the Food Safety Experts. Together, let’s make Virginia the best (and safest!) fed state!
Information for Virginia Restaurant Owners & Employees
- Virginia Food Regulations and 2021 Virginia Food Regulation Update Info Sheet
- 2016 Food Regulation Update Newsletter
- Guide to Employee Health in Food Establishments– Updated February 2017
- Food Allergen Awareness: For Virginia Food Establishments
- Restaurant Preparedness for power outages
- Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA– from ADA.gov
Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) Certification
As of July 1, 2018, food establishments (including temporary food establishments) need to have at least one employee with supervisory and management responsibilities and the authority to direct and control food preparation and service who is a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). By June 24, 2023 the person in charge must be a CFPM (with limited exceptions). Learn more about this requirement here.
How to Apply for a Permit
Contact your Local Health Department for district-specific requirements in applying for a permit to operate a food establishment. You may download a food establishment permit application here: Foodservice Permit Application.
- ✓ Building Permits
- ✓ Business License
- ✓ VDH Permit
- ✓ VDH Plan Review
- ✓ Approved equipment, supplies, food sources and signage
- ✓ Food Training
- ✓ All applicable fees
- ✓ Regular Inspections from VDH
Temporary Food Establishments
If you are interested in applying for a permit for a temporary event, please visit our page on Temporary Food Establishments.
Mobile Food Units
Effective July 1, 2017, the Virginia Department of Health is now required to issue mobile food unit licenses in the form of a sticker that shall be prominently displayed on mobile food units. This change was enacted due to the passage of House Bill 1625 during the 2017 Virginia General Assembly legislative session. For more information, please refer to our fact sheet on Upcoming Changes for Mobile Food Units.
In 2018 the Department of Housing and Community Development passed requirements for fire safety specific to mobile food establishments. You may find a handout to assist mobile food unit operators here.
Some jurisdictions have local ordinances which may impose additional requirements of be more restrictive than the Virginia Food Regulations.
- Local CFPM Requirements (2020)
- Local Food Handler Permit and Training
- Local Grocery Store Inspections
- Local Exemptions Youth Athletic Activities
Preparing for Inspections
- Nine Tips to Prepare for an Inspection
- What to do When a Health Inspector Visits
- Download International Food Safety Icon placards for your establishment through the International Association for Food Protection. International Food Safety Icons are simple pictorial representations of important food safety tasks that can be recognized and understood regardless of a person’s native language
- Build a Hand Washing Toolkit for your sinks (from the Minnesota Department of Health)
- Download a Food Allergy Training Program for restaurant operators
- FDA Bulletin to the Food Service and Retail Food Store Industry Regarding Flour and Products Containing Flour – Prevent foodborne illness associated with the handling or consumption of raw flour.