Selling Ice Cream – UK Regulations

What could be a more delicious business idea than selling ice cream? You can be your own boss and you can get out and about in the sunshine. It’s a relatively low investment to get started, and your returns can be high. But if you want to make a cool profit selling ice cream, you need to know exactly what regulations apply to you. There are lots of different ice cream van rules and regulations to stick to depending on what you sell and where you sell it. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to give you the low-down on everything from licences to ice cream van insurance.


First, do I need a licence to sell ice cream (or an ice cream van licence)?

First of all, you need to get the right licence to sell ice cream. This can be confusing because the regulations vary depending on how you are selling ice cream and your location. For instance:

  • If you have an ice-cream parlour, you may need a street trader’s licence if you have chairs on the pavement outside.
  • If you sell ice cream from a bike or van on the public highway, including pavements, you’ll normally need a street trader’s licence.
  • You’ll need a street trader’s licence if you sell your ice cream from a kiosk or any moveable stall.
  • If you’re selling your ice cream at a market, you may need a market trader’s licence instead.
  • You may not need a street trading licence if you’re selling ice cream on private land as long as you are seven metres away from the public highway. Remember, you will need the landowner’s permission though.


Ice cream cart - Ice cream van licenceBear in mind that different councils have different requirements. If you’re not sure, speak to your local council.


Find contact details for your council here.


How to get a street trader’s licence

Next, if you do need to apply for a street trading licence, you should get in touch with your local council or apply online. You’ll normally need to pay a fee, and you’ll need to renew your licence regularly. It’s important to factor these ongoing costs into your business plan.


Bear in mind:

  • If you trade without a licence, you could be fined up to £1,000.
  • You can also be fined if you don’t obey the conditions of your licence.


Registering your business with environmental health

Another thing all food businesses must do is to register with the relevant local authority. This applies whether you are:


  • Selling food.
  • Cooking food.
  • Storing or handling food.
  • Preparing food.
  • Distributing food.


Bear in mind that you need to register your business at least 28 days before you start trading. It doesn’t cost anything and every registration is accepted. If you don’t register you can be fined and even receive a prison sentence. You can start the registration process here.


Shows a selection of sugar ice cream conesApplying for approval of a food establishment

Food businesses that handle animal produce, including dairy products, are under stricter controls to help to avoid the spread of disease. In almost every case this won’t apply to you if you sell ice cream. For instance, as long as you sell your ice cream directly to the public or to other businesses in a localised and restricted way, you won’t need to apply. If you’re not sure, contact your local council.


Regulations on using your chimes

If you have an ice cream van, your chimes let potential punters know you’re there. But there are strict regulations on when and how you can sound them. These include:

  • Chimes cannot be played more than once every two hours in any one stretch of street.
  • Chimes cannot be louder than 80 decibels.
  • Your music should not last more than 12 seconds.
  • Chimes should not be played in sight of any other van.
  • Chimes can be played only once on the approach to a stopping/selling point and only once whilst stationary.
  • There must be an interval of at least 2 minutes between the chimes being played.
  • Chimes cannot be sounded within 50m of a hospital or 50m of a school during school hours. Chimes cannot be sounded within 50m of a church or place of worship on a Sunday.

Read the full Code of Practice.


Rules on where you can trade

There are a whole host of regulations on where you can trade, which can make many potentially profitable pitches out of reach. For example, many local authorities won’t let you stop near a school or playground. Each authority has different rules, so it’s best to check what applies to your area.


Ice Cream Van rules and regulations - Shows a local ice cream vanFood hygiene regulations when you sell ice cream

Wherever you sell your ice cream, you’ll need to comply with food hygiene regulations. These ice cream van rules and regulations are in place to make sure that the products you sell are safe to eat. Every business that sells food needs to set out a food management system based on what the Food Standards Agency (FSA) calls Hazard Analysis and Critical Point (HACCP). If you only sell pre-packaged ice cream and lollies, your HACCP will be less detailed than if you also make ice cream to sell.


As part of inspections by the FSA, inspectors may ask to see your codes of practice for food hygiene. You’ll need to be able to show cleaning schedules, risk assessment policies, and training records. Your food management system will need to outline how your business deals with and eliminates food hazards. You can find out more about food hygiene requirements on the official FSA site.


Don’t forget: If you’re responsible for the food safety management procedure, you have to complete training on food safety and hygiene by law.


Ice cream business insurance

If you employ any members of staff you’ll need employer’s liability insurance. The only exception is if it is a family business and the only employees are close family members.


Public liability insurance is not a legal requirement, but it is vital for food businesses. It covers your legal bills if any member of the public is injured or property is damaged by something connected to your business. This includes claims of allergic reactions to incorrectly labelled food, and food poisoning. There are many other types of insurance to consider too.


Employment regulations

If you’re employing staff for your ice cream business, you’ll need to follow employment regulations. These include:

  • Minimum wage
  • Employment Rights Act
  • Health and Safety
  • Employer’s liability insurance


Ice Cream Van Licence - Shows an ice cream coneFinally

Whether you have an ice cream bike, van, or stall, follow the ice cream van rules and regulations to keep your business sweet. From applying for an ice cream van licence to obtaining the right insurance, follow our complete guide above to get the whole scoop on the regulations of selling ice cream