Food handling activity licence

Activity licence for food handling is required in the following cases:

  • Handling of primary products of non-animal origin, during which their original form and original properties are changed;
  • Germ production;
  • Handling of food of animal origin, regulated by Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • Processing, production, packaging of food of animal origin and their marketing to another operator in a movable and/or temporary handling site (e.g. marquees, market stalls and mobile sales vehicles) and in a private residence;
  • Processing of food, including production or packaging;
  • Storage of food stored at temperatures different from the room temperature;
  • Handling of food stored at temperatures different from the room temperature in retail trade.

Detailed list of fields of handling and food groups is provided in Appendix 2(PDF 196 kB) to the Regulation of the Minister of Agriculture “Specified list of fields of handling and food groups, in case of which an operator shall submit a notice of economic activities or in case of which an operator shall possess an activity licence”. In case of other activities related to food handling not mentioned above, a notice of economic activities shall be submitted.

Operation in a field of activity related to food handling is regulated by the following legal acts:

  • General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act;
  • Food Act;
  • Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
  • Other legal acts regulating the area, such as legal acts regulating labelling, food additives, and materials intended for coming into contact with food etc.

Requirements to the applicant

In order to receive an activity licence, you must meet the following requirements:

  • you have prepared a self-check plan;
  • rooms and equipment of your establishment or business, waste and water supply, handling, packaging and transport of food and personal hygiene of employees meet the requirements specified in Appendix II to Regulation No. 852/2004;
  • if your business is dealing only with primary production and related activities, it shall meet the relevant requirements specified in Appendix I to Regulation No. 852/2004 and Regulation No. 853/2004;
  • if the business is dealing with handling of food of animal origin, the relevant requirements specified in Regulation No. 853/2004 shall be met. 

You can seek further information from a local agency of the Veterinary and Food Board of the location of the business.

Cross-border operation

If the company has been founded and operates as a food business operator in a field of handling, requiring activity licence in another European Economic Area country, and wishes to operate permanently in the same field of handling also in Estonia, it shall obtain an activity licence before starting operation in Estonia.

Information of operation in another EEA country can be found in the common contact point EUGO of the relevant country.

Filling and submission of an application

The application for an activity licence can be submitted:

NB! The persons who want to submit electronic application through the customer portal shall fill in the application directly in the information system and do not need to submit a separate PDF file or document on paper.

Form of application for activity licence (.doc, 266 kB, in Estonian) is available on the website of VFB.

In order to obtain an activity licence, please append the following documents to the application:

  • the site map of the company along with the layout of the outdoor water supply and sewerage lines;
  • the layout of the rooms along with the layout of the machinery, equipment and indoor water supply and sewerage lines. All the water points must be numbered in the layout of the water supply network. The layout of the rooms must indicate paths of movement of food, packaging materials, waste and staff;
  • information on the finishing materials used in the handling rooms; the numeric values of the relevant regulated parameter of the rooms with a regulated temperature, or the rooms with relative humidity, or the rooms with regulated temperature and relative humidity;
  • the technological scheme of the handling process along with parameters that are of relevance from the point of view of food safety and a short description of the technology;
  • the designed and planned or actual handling capacity, including the capacity of the storage facilities;
  • the test protocols of the water used in the business, which focus on the indicators investigated in the course of regular examination of the drinking water prescribed by Subsection 13 (2) of the Water Act. The test protocols must be issued for analysing the drinking water by an accredited laboratory;
  • the cleaning and disinfection plan that contains information on the measures taken and substances used for cleaning and disinfecting the equipment and rooms;
  • the pest control plan that contains information on the measures taken for controlling pests;
  • the plan for the collection, removal and inactivation of food waste, by-products not used for food and other waste, which contains information on the measures taken for collecting, removing and inactivating these;
  • the food hygiene training plan of the employees coming into contact with food;
  • information on the means of transport used for the carriage of food and a description of cleaning the means of transport and circulating transportation packaging.

NB! If the operator specifies his e-mail address in the application for activity licence, it will be considered a consent to receive the administrative act electronically.

Processing of an application

The Veterinary and Food Board will notify you of the receipt of your application no later than on the third business day following the submission of the application, and will review the application for activity licence by granting or refusing to grant the activity licence in 30 days as of the submission of the application.

The term of review of the application starts from the submission of all required data. If information presented in the application is insufficient or the requirements set for granting the activity licence are not met, you will be contacted. For elimination of deficiencies, the progress of term of review of application may be suspended until elimination of deficiencies, but no more than 30 days, notifying the operator having submitted the application thereof. After elimination of deficiencies, the activity licence will be granted in 30 days.

VFB may extend the term of review of the application once for up to 30 days, if it is necessary due to the complexity of a single case, notifying the operator having submitted the application thereof.

An activity licence is granted by VFB for an unspecified term. Under certain conditions, VFB may also grant an initial activity licence, which will become invalid upon granting or refusal to grant the activity licence.

VFB notifies the operator of granting or refusal to grant the activity licence via e-mail. If the operator has not specified his e-mail address, VFB will deliver the printout of register data to the operator by registered mail or against receipt to the postal address specified by the operator, or if no such address has been specified, to the address of the location of the operator. The notice shall be considered delivered five days after dispatch in case of delivery by registered mail, and 30 days after dispatch in case of delivery to a foreign country.

Changing the conditions of an activity licence

You must submit an application for changing the activity licence, if you want to change the field of handling or the food group.

Application for changing the activity licence can be submitted:

The persons who want to submit electronic application through the customer portal shall fill in the application directly in the information system and do not need to submit a separate PDF file or document on paper.

Form of application for activity licence is available on the website of VFB.

Suspension of an activity licence and termination of economic activities

If you want to suspend or terminate food handling, you must submit a notice of discontinuation or temporary discontinuation of economic activities to VFB. In case of discontinuation of food handling, please indicate the date of termination of economic activities in the notice. If you discontinue food handling until a fixed term, you may specify dates of discontinuation and restart of food handling.

Notice of discontinuation or temporary discontinuation of economic activities can be submitted:

The persons who want to submit electronic application through the customer portal shall fill in the application directly in the information system and do not need to submit a separate PDF file or document on paper.

Form of application for activity licence (.doc, 266 kB, in Estonian) is available on the website of VFB.

Declaration of invalidity of an activity licence

The Veterinary and Food Board will declare an activity licence invalid on the following bases:

  • while applying for an activity licence, you have intentionally submitted false information, which influenced granting of the licence and the non-submission of which would have caused refusal to grant the activity licence;
  • you discontinue the economic activities;
  • a prohibition on relevant economic activities imposed with court judgment or proceeding from the law applies to you in the field of activity of food handling, except prohibition on economic activities applied pursuant to the General Part of the Economic Activities Code Act.

The Veterinary and Food Board may declare an activity licence invalid on the following bases:

  • non-commencement of economic activities in two years from granting the activity licence or their non-performance in two years;
  • you are violating essentially the requirements or secondary conditions of the activity licence;
  • the activity permitted with activity licence causes major damage or hazard to public order, which did not exist or was not known at the moment of granting of the activity licence, and which outbalances your interest to continue the activity, and which cannot be eliminated with amendment of the activity licence;
  • changes in the field of handling or food group.

Activity licence will be declared invalid in case of death of an operator operating as sole proprietor and in case of liquidation, merger, division and reorganisation of corporate operators.

The Veterinary and Food Board may suspend an activity licence partially or completely:

  • in case of a risk caused by major violation of a secondary condition of the activity licence (field of handling or food group) until elimination of violation or the decision to declare the activity licence invalid;
  • in case of prevention of state supervision.

If an activity licence has been declared invalid, it is possible to apply for a new activity licence for the same activity any time.

Supervision

The Veterinary and Food Board supervises the compliance of food and food handling. In addition to VFB, the Consumer Protection Board exercises supervision over compliance with the requirements for submission of information and the correctness of submitted information in the retail food business. Supervision fee shall be paid for the assessment of the compliance of food handling (11.5 EUR per hour in 2017).

Contact details

Substantive information

Heneli Lamp, Veterinary and Food Board, tel: +372 605 1729, e-mail: heneli.lamp@vet.agri.ee

Registry information and technical questions

Client portal of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, tel: +372 625 6100, e-mail: kliendiportaal@agri.ee

Last amended: 17-04-2017 11:05 | Compiled by: Veterinary and Food Board