Food and Facilities Licensing

Licensing Services -
Farmer's Markets/On-Site Farm Market/Roadside Farm 

Who must apply for a farmer's market license?
Anyone who is a licensed food service business, or plans to distribute, sell, sample, cook, process or otherwise handle unwrapped or hazardous food, including exempt individuals who plan on performing one of the following, at a farmer's market, on-site farm market or roadside farm stand in Montgomery County must first obtain a Montgomery County Farmer's Market License.  

Who is Exempt from Licensure?
Individuals who distribute fresh, whole and un-processed raw produce, herbs, nuts, honey, eggs registered through the Maryland Department of Agriculture, live crustaceans, a vendor who possesses a State of Maryland Producer or Mobile Farmer's Market Unit License, or a Cottage Food Business under the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)

What is a Cottage Food Business?

A Cottage Food Business means a business that produces or packages non-hazardous food products in a Maryland residential kitchen with annual revenues from the sale of cottage food products not exceeding $25,000.  Cottage foods cannot be offered for sale or distributed outside Maryland.  Visit the Maryland Department of Health for more information about the operation of a Cottage Food Business; including examples of what cottage food products are approved; not approved; and labeling and packing requirements.

What Is a Producer Mobile Farmer's Market Unit?
A producer mobile farmer's market unit is a licensed mobile unit, valid in all jurisdictions within the State, issued by the Maryland Department of Health, that may transport to and sell at a farmer's market, food products either produced or stored on the farm or inspected, licensed, or certified for food safety by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.  The mobile unit must be inspected once a year and have a valid license.  For contact information, a list of food products which may be approved, and information on how to obtain licensure, visit the Maryland Department of Health Producer Mobile Farmer's Market Unit License Guidelines.

What Is An On-Site Farm Market?
An On-Site Farm Market is the display and retail sale of agricultural products produced on the farm where the farm market is located, or agricultural products produced on another farm under the control of the owner or operator of the market.

When Must One Apply For A Farmer's Market License?
A license must be obtained prior to operating at each location.  Licenses are not transferrable from location to location.  An application for license must be submitted at least three weeks before the scheduled start of the market or prior to the business's current Farmer's License expiration date.

How Does One Apply for a Farmer's Market License?

Submit an application, and correct fee at least three weeks prior to operation of each market.  One of the following attachments should also be submitted at the time of application if an applicant is a licensed food service business or otherwise does not purchase all food, and all food ingredients, the day of and perform all food service operations during normal market operating hours:
  • Copy of a valid Maryland local jurisdiction Food Service Facility License (if other than Montgomery County), State of Maryland Food Processing Plant License or Warehouse License, or a Permit issued by the State of Maryland Center for Milk and Dairy Product Safety; or 
  • Copy of a valid Food Service Facility or Establishment License or valid Food Service Facility or Establishment Permit from another state.  A registration and/or inspection granting approval to operate as a Food Service Facility or Establishment, may be approved if a license or permit is not issued by their approving authority.  Cottage food businesses from other states are not permitted to cross state lines for distribution in Maryland and cannot be approved; or 
  • If the applicant does not possess a license to operate a Food Service Facility, Establishment, or otherwise, from an approving authority; the applicant must submit a  Commissary letter or leasing agreement from a licensed Food Service Facility, or equivalent, as previously stated.  A copy of the valid license from the Food Service Facility License, or otherwise, from the approving authority (if other than a Food Service Facility License issued by Montgomery County)  must accompany the Commissary Letter.  The Commissary Letter must be completed together by both the farmer's market applicant and the owner of the licensed food facility.  The Commissary letter must be dated within one year from date of application.  All leasing agreements must be valid at time of application.
Further documentation for specialty processed foods, food laboratory reports, or standard operating procedures for fermented, acidified foods or shellfish may be subject to granting final approval.

A copy of the valid license, permit, registration and/or inspection from another state's approving authority, and Commissary letter or leasing agreement must be submitted annually at the time the application is submitted.  Incomplete applications will either be returned or the applicant may receive an email for further information.  Once an application is approved, an email will be sent granting approval for the business to begin operation until an official license is received.  The license will either be mailed or issued at the time of market inspection.

What Are the Requirements to Operate?
Under the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), a farmer's market is considered a special food service facility and must comply with those requirements.  Anyone who is operating a farmer's market, on-site farm market or roadside farm stand and distributes, sell, samples or otherwise handles unwrapped or hazardous food, must comply with the special food service facility general sanitation and farmer's market sampling requirements.

Download the Application or Requirements: Are There Any Fees?

See the fee schedule for fees that may apply.

Staff with  Licensure & Regulatory Services are available to answer questions during regular business hours - Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 240-777-3986.  

Department of Health and Human Services
Licensing & Regulatory Services
2425 Reedie Drive, 9th floor
Wheaton, MD 20902