License Information for New Food Establishments
In conjunction with RIDOH, CommerceRI and the Department of Business Regulation have created a general overview and road map of how to navigate entrance into the restaurant industry, including guiding users through obtaining necessary local and state permits and licenses. Access the information at 'How to Open a Restaurant in Rhode Island'.
What you should do
1. Zoning Approval
Get city/town zoning approval to operate a food establishment.
2. Sewage Disposal System Approval
This applies to establishments with private sewer systems only. If the establishment is on a public sewer system, move to step 3.
- If an on-site sewage disposal system exists, submit a "System Suitability Determination" application to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM). A copy of the approved application will need to be submitted to the Office of Food Protection as part of the application package, as well as the seating capacity and any other limitations imposed by DEM.
- If a new on-site sewage disposal system is needed, submit an application for construction of a new Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) to DEM. A copy of the Certificate of Conformance issued by DEM will need to be submitted to the Office of Food Protection as part of the application package.
3. Water Supply Approval
This applies to establishments with an on-site water supply (well water) only. If the establishment has a municipal water supply, move to step 4.
Get approval from the RI Department of Health, Division of Drinking Water Quality indicating a safe, on-site water supply.
4. Submit License Application and Fees
License application packages and fees should be submitted to the Office of Food Protection at least two weeks prior to the proposed opening date for existing facilities, and at least one month prior to construction for new facilities or existing facilities undergoing renovations. Applications and fees may be necessary for each type of license required (i.e. market, food service establishment, dairy). All checks should be made payable to General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island. All application fees and plan review fees are non-refundable.
All license application packagesshould include:
- Application fee(s)
- DEM approval (if necessary)
- Drinking Water Quality approval (if necessary)
- Proposed Menu
Additional license application components required for new construction and facilities undergoing renovations:
*The plan review fee is charged for new construction and renovations if the cost of the renovation exceeds 50% of the value of the establishment.
5. Certified Food Safety Managers
If required, ensure that the establishment has the appropriate number of managers certified in food safety.
6. Local Permits
Obtain appropriate permits from city/town officials (building official, local Fire Marshall, etc.).
7. Pre-operational Inspection
After the application has been reviewed by the Office of Food Protection, construction is complete, and all equipment is operational, call the Office of Food Protection to schedule a pre-operational inspection. If the inspection is satisfactory, your license will be approved and mailed to you.
We are here to help
If you encounter any problems or concerns regarding this process, please feel free to contact the Center for Food Protection at 401-222-2750.