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Food and Facilities Licensing

Licensing Services - Food Service Facility

Application Process | New Facility/Fixed Location | Change of Ownership | Other Required Licenses | Certified Food Service Manager

Who must submit a food service facility license application?
Any person planning to distribute, prepare, handle, or dispense food for public consumption with or without charge.

What constitutes a food service facility?
"Food Service Facility" means restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, short order cafés, luncheonettes, taverns, sandwich stands, soda fountains, retail markets, and food operations in industries, institutions, hospitals, clubs, schools, camps, churches, catering kitchens, commissaries, or similar places in which food or drink is prepared for sale or for service on the premises or elsewhere, or any other operations where food is served or provided for the public with or without charge. Code of Maryland Regulations – 10.15.03 – Food Service Facilities and Montgomery County Code – Chapter 15 – Eating and Drinking Establishments. Home kitchens will not be licensed!

When must one apply for a food service license?
A license must be obtained prior to opening a business. Licenses expire on December 31st and must be renewed each year. (A Use and Occupancy Permit must be obtained through the Department of Permitting Services at 240-777-6200. Many businesses also are required to have a Trader’s License. To determine if you need a Trader’s License contact the Montgomery County Circuit Court, Business Licenses Office, 240-777-9460.)

How does one obtain a license to sell food?
Licenses are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, Licensure and Regulatory Services. Licenses are nontransferable.

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Food Service Facility License Application Process

Please submit plans directly to Licensure and Regulatory Services; other departments do not forward plans to this office. Issuance of building or electrical permits does not indicate Licensure and Regulatory Services’ approval. Licensure and Regulatory Services’ approval must be obtained before any construction starts.

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New Facility/Fixed Location

The application, appropriate fee, menu, HACCP flow charts, Workman’s Compensation Insurance documentation, and a set of complete plans must be submitted.

The Environmental Health Specialist assigned will review the plans and submitted information within 14 days of submittal. Incomplete submittals may extend the time for review.

Once plans are approved and the work is completed, call at least one week in advance to schedule a compliance inspection.

Licensure & Regulatory Services staff are available to answer questions (Monday – Friday) 8:00 a.m.. to 4:00 p.m. at  240-777-3986.

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Change of Ownership/Fixed Location

The application, appropriate fee, menu, HACCP flow charts, and Workman’s Compensation Insurance documentation must be submitted. Licenses are Nontransferable.

Submit and Approve:
Plans must be submitted and approved prior to any renovations of the facility.

The application and/or plans will be reviewed. An inspection may be conducted at the discretion of the Environmental Health Specialist. Any required repairs will be noted and must be completed prior to approval. Once approval is granted, the license will be sent to the applicant.

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What Other Licenses Might I Need?

Zoning, building, electrical, use & occupancy, and well & septic issues are regulated by the Department of Permitting Services at 240-777-6200.

The following cities have their own zoning approval:

Fire code issues are regulated by the Department of Fire and Rescue Services 240-777-2457.

Plumbing issues are regulated by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission 301-206-8000, except for the City of Rockville 301-309-3250.

Alcoholic beverage licenses are regulated by the Board of License Commissioners 240-777-1999.

A Montgomery County Certified Food Service Manager must be on the premises whenever the facility is being operated. See information below.

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Certified Food Service Manager

Montgomery County Code 15-8(b)(2) states a licensee must not operate a food service facility unless the facility is under the immediate control of a Certified Food Service Manager.

How do I become a Certified Food Service Manager?
Anyone may be certified as an Food Service Manager. The applicant must successfully complete an approved Food Service Manager's course, and file an application with Licensure and Regulatory Services to receive a Certified Food Service Manager’s photo identification card. The card is valid for three years from the initial completion date of the approved course.

The applicant must come to the Department of Health and Human Services, Licensure and Regulatory Services office (255 Rockville Pike, Suite 100, 1st floor, Rockville, MD) to obtain a photo identification card. The office hours are Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m.. and 4:00 p.m..Call 240-777-3986 for more information.

To receive a new certification card you must have the following:

To renew a certification card you must bring the following:


To transfer certification credentials from other Maryland counties:

Cards issued by other jurisdictions will be considered for transfer on a case-by-case basis.

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