Food Establishment Operators Information

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

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.

Be sure to keep the following in mind:

    • ✓ 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.

Local Ordinances

Some jurisdictions have local ordinances which may impose additional requirements of be more restrictive than the Virginia Food Regulations.

Preparing for Inspections

Additional Resources