Cottage Food Laws In Virginia

Business By KellyJo3 Updated 29 Dec 2015 , 4:32am by costumeczar

KellyJo3 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 12:51pm
post #1 of 33

I am having difficulty finding any information on the cottage food law in Virginia. I have called the places in Richmond, but they have not returned my calls yet. I just had a few basic questions if anyone wouldn't mind helping me out. Also I have already sent away for and paid for my business and sellers license as well as a DBA.
1. How much money are we allowed to make under the cottage food law.
2. Do we have to get health inspected as long as our food is labeled correctly.
3. Do we pay any fees aside from taxes.
Thank you ahead of time for any input! : )

32 replies
costumeczar Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 1:40pm
post #2 of 33

There is a home-based baking law in Virginia, I had a copy of it but I can't find it now. I was talking to the inspector about it the last time he was here and he gave me a copy.

I don't remember there being any kind of income threshold associated with it, but you do have to limit the things that you make to non-perishables, and everything has to be labelled that it came from a non-inspected facility.

Getting an inspection here is really easy, so I'd recommend that you go ahead and get inspected. It's a good selling point. I personally wouldn't buy anything from a non-inspected facility since I know that the inspections are an option.

I'll look around and see if I can find the copy of the bill...

costumeczar Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 1:50pm
post #3 of 33

Here it is...

Section three is the one that pertains to home baking. This is just the manufacturing part of it, I don't know about any income limits.

KellyJo3 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 2:20pm
post #4 of 33

Thank you so much. I will get an inspection, as it will hopefully help gain more customers.

costumeczar Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 3:00pm
post #5 of 33

I don't know who you've been calling, but you need to talk to the Dept of Agriculture about licensing. They do tend to be hard to get in touch with, but once you do they're helpful.

ShandraB Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 4:35pm
post #6 of 33

Be aware that there are certain conditions your kitchen and home must meet to be certified. I have an indoor pet, so my kitchen does not meet the specifications. That's not the only thing, just enough reason for me to stop pursuing it.

tigachu Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 6:01pm
post #7 of 33

When I spoke with the Dep. Of Agriculture, they told me having an indoor pet doesn't disqualify me. They said I would just have to make sure the dog is not on the same floor (or maybe it was the same area) when I am baking. I spoke to a supervisor about it but I really hope I received the right info!! icon_redface.gif

ShandraB Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 6:53pm
post #8 of 33

Well, I live in a one floor house, but they did not give me the option of keeping him out of the area when I was baking. They just said it was a no go. Perhaps the enforcement varies by area.

tigachu Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 7:13pm
post #9 of 33

Aww, I really hope that is the case! I kind of went through an emotional rollercoaster because I read the packet from the Dept. of Agriculture and gathered that I could not have an indoor pet. Then after reading otherwise in another thread here, I called them, confirmed that I could do it and it seemed that the clouds opened up for me.

Now, I have to deal with zoning because I live in a townhome and may not qualify to have a home based business icon_cry.gif (even though I would not have anyone come to my home). I think they said I would have to pay $2-400 (and an at least 6 month wait) icon_eek.gif to go before the board for special consideration.

This is a great topic and we can share our experiences as Virginians. thumbs_up.gif

KellyJo3 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 7:27pm
post #10 of 33

Oh man, I didn't know there were zoning procdures. I live in a trailer and that may disqualify me and I also have an indoor pet. Goodness. I hope it all works out!

costumeczar Posted 9 Mar 2011 , 1:33am
post #11 of 33

I have a cat, and the inspector told me that they can't tell people not to have pets. You have to keep them out of the kitchen area, and it's best to keep them out of the area entirely, but it shouldn't disqualify you unless there's a specific local regulation.

As far as the townhouse thing goes, that sounds like a homeowner's association rule rather than a state rule. I had a friend who had a cake business in an apartment, and she had two cats on top of that. The inspector came to her apartment and gave her a passing grade, so just because you're in an apartment shouldn't disqualify you. If you move into a house that has a homeowner's association and you signed their contract that says you can't run a business out of your home, though, that's a separate issue.

katrina9802 Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 11:13pm
post #12 of 33

I am considering starting a home bakery and trying to figure out what all I need to do to be legal. This has been really helpful in terms of the inspection. Just out of curiousity, where to do I go/contact to be legal in terms of taxes and licenses? We just moved to VA a few months ago and am still trying to figure this state out! Thanks for the help! icon_smile.gif

KellyJo3 Posted 29 Mar 2011 , 12:05am
post #13 of 33

You can call the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804/786-3501 : )

sixbittersweets Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 6:26pm
post #14 of 33

This post is incredibly helpful! I've called the number and am waiting for my packet. In the meantime, I'm a bit nervous because the lady on the phone asked me if I had 2 sinks. I live in an apartment with only one kitchen sink. Does anyone know if the bathroom sink counts as one of 2 or do they want you to have a special sink just for commercial baking? Thanks!

dchockeyguy Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 6:35pm
post #15 of 33

You should check the Arlington rules. I have a friend who lived there, I was under the impression she moved out of Arlington in order to bake out of her house.

sixbittersweets Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 6:37pm
post #16 of 33

Thanks! I did tell the dept representative that I lived in Arlington and she's sending me the packet still so I'd imagine Arlington itself does not prohibit home baking sales. Perhaps it has more stringent rules than other counties though. Sigh. Do you happen to know of an online source for Arlington rules?

Or if you'd be willing to put me in contact with that friend to ask some questions that'd be greatly appreciated! But I totally understand if you're not comfortable with that icon_smile.gif.

dchockeyguy Posted 5 Jul 2011 , 8:49pm
post #17 of 33

I'm not familiar, and my friend could well have been wrong... icon_smile.gif

FondantDreams Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 6:39pm
post #18 of 33

We live in Fauquier County, one indoor/outdoor cat and one small dog but I need a stay at home job for that 2nd income to make it in this bad economy. I love making cakes and am told I am rather good at it, I cannot afford a huge fee/permit, I am hoping I am not out of the game simply due to not being able to afford a 2nd sink, pets, not a nice enough kitchen or the such.

I will be checking further though but it doesn't look good for me so far.

cylstrial Posted 7 Sep 2013 , 8:44pm
post #19 of 33

Does anyone have any new news regarding the Cottage Food Laws in Virgina? We are moving there soon and I am looking for any and all information that I can find. Thanks!

BatterUpCake Posted 7 Sep 2013 , 9:24pm
post #20 of 33

Virginia's cottage food laws vary by city. Norfolk doesn't allow it but most cities do...

costumeczar Posted 8 Sep 2013 , 12:50am
post #21 of 33


Originally Posted by cylstrial 

Does anyone have any new news regarding the Cottage Food Laws in Virgina? We are moving there soon and I am looking for any and all information that I can find. Thanks!


There's nothing new overall. You can call the Department of Agriculture and ask them if they have any printed information, When I  moved here they had a package that they sent me with info about starting a business in Virginia.

cylstrial Posted 8 Sep 2013 , 12:50am
post #22 of 33

Thanks BatterUpCake! We will be moving to the DC area, probably 30 minutes to an hour out. But I thought now is the time to figure out the cottage law in different towns and such before we move. Thanks!

BatterUpCake Posted 8 Sep 2013 , 1:05am
post #23 of 33

LOL..DC is further than that! Unfortunately DC is not part of VA and they currently (at least as of June) have a CFL. The one in the proposed bill would only allow sales at farmer's markets

justdesserts Posted 8 Sep 2013 , 7:48pm
post #24 of 33

AFurther than that? DC is right next to VA, and it sounds like they would be moving to NOVA, 30-60 min outside of DC. :P

BatterUpCake Posted 8 Sep 2013 , 7:49pm
post #25 of 33

Ohhh...I thought she was saying 30 minutes from Norfolk. Got it now

SweetDelites Posted 12 Nov 2013 , 12:07am
post #26 of 33

ACCORDING TO VA CODE 3.1-398.1  Private homes where the resident processes and prepares candies, jams, jellies not considered to be low-acid or acidified low-acid food products and baked goods

that do not require time or temperature control after preparation if such products are: (i) sold to an individual for his own consumption and not for resale; (ii)  sold at the private home or at farmers market and labeled " NOT FOR RESALE-- PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION"



I went to a farmers market and found several  people who follow this code.

katie0426 Posted 17 Mar 2015 , 2:07am
post #27 of 33

Hi!  I know this post is a bit old, but I just wanted to point you to my new website,, in which I summarize the applicable Virginia laws on cottage food and the exemption from kitchen inspection.  It's a work in progress but if you have any questions please let me know!! Thanks :)

costumeczar Posted 26 Mar 2015 , 6:49pm
post #28 of 33


Quote by @katie0426 on 16 Mar 2015 , 8:07pm

Hi!  I know this post is a bit old, but I just wanted to point you to my new website,, in which I summarize the applicable Virginia laws on cottage food and the exemption from kitchen inspection.  It's a work in progress but if you have any questions please let me know!! Thanks :)

 Do you know anything about the FDA regulations about selling food across state lines, especially online? I'm curious about this because there are exemptions from some of the labeling and inspections regulations for interstate food sales if you work from a licensed home kitchen, but the FDA website is useless when I was trying to figure out specifics. I think there are a ton of people who are selling online and violating a hundred laws, and I don't want to be one of them.

AJT2012 Posted 1 Apr 2015 , 5:38pm
post #29 of 33

Katie0426, I just checked out your website and it is awesome!  It's a great supplement to all that legal jargon that's, obviously, confusing to most of us.  It doesn't hurt that you're a lawyer to boot!  I can't wait for you to update your website with more info.  Could you perhaps touch on the legalities of a home-based business who wants to also have a certified kitchen?  I'm sure there are a lot more hoops to jump thru...any info you can share will be greatly appreciated!  Also,  about not accepting payments on-line, does that include down payments??  Most of us require a non-refundable down payment for bigger projects, and was wondering if we could accept those over the internet, and get final payment face to face before the project is due or at time of delivery...

AJT2012 Posted 1 Apr 2015 , 6:14pm
post #30 of 33

Hi ShrandaB.  I'm not sure if you're even on here anymore, but I'm curious about your situation.  Did you ever complete the process of opening your home-based business?  I am also not able to get my kitchen certified.  Not because of the pet, but because of the open floor plan.  Here's what the application states right on the front:  The food processing area, including any areas where ingredients and finished productsare stored, must be completely enclosed/separated from the rest of the home in order to be approved for home based food production. For example, food processing and storage areas must be fitted with a hinged door(s) that can be latched/closed shut. Placing pets in closed rooms in other areas of the home will NOT satisfy this requirement. The presence of caged pets (such as hamsters, guinea pigs, reptiles, fish, and birds) will not require the kitchen to be enclosed/separated from the rest of the home.  There is always the option of going non-certified and depending on word of mouth as your advertisement and promotion.  It's not what I want to do either, but I don't have the ability to open a brick and mortar bakery at the time...

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