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Virginia allows producers to make certain types of food from home without needing a license or inspection from the ag department. The information on this page only pertains to operations that do not get their home kitchen inspected. If you want to make more types of food or to sell in more venues, you can apply to be a home food processing operation, which is much more complicated than using the exemption described below.

To use the inspection exemption, producers have to adhere to some restrictions. For instance, a producer can only sell from farmers markets and their home, and they can only sell certain types of food. Fortunately, the law was amended in 2013 to allow many more kinds of products. A few types of products, like pickles and honey, have sales limits.

Virginia had another bill (HB 1290) that aimed to replace the current cottage food law with an exemption that would prevent any type of cottage food business from needing licensing or inspection. As happened last year (HB 135), it was too ambitious and it died in its session. These bills are part of a group’s food freedom initiative.


Advertising online is allowed, even though internet sales are not allowed.

Honey can be sold to any venue, without restriction.

Allowed Foods

Prohibited Foods

Pickles and acidified vegetables must have a pH level no higher than 4.6, and only $3,000 of sales are allowed per year.

Low-acid or acidified low-acid food products (like some sugar-free jams) are not allowed.

Infused honey products are not allowed.

Only "non-potentially hazardous" foods are allowed, but certain non-PHFs may not be allowed. Most foods that don't need to be refrigerated (foods without meat, cheese, etc.) are considered non-potentially hazardous. Learn more


There is no sales limit
Most types of products have no sales limit
Sales are limited to $3,000 per year
This $3,000 limit only applies to sales of pickles and other acidified foods

Honey producers can’t sell more than 250 gallons of honey per year.


You do not need a license from the ag department to start your business, though there may be other local requirements (like a business license or zoning approval) that you need to fulfill.

Most food businesses in Virginia are charged an annual $40 fee, but since you are exempt from inspection, this fee does not apply. If you get a $40 bill from the ag department, you should dispute it.


Sample Label

Chocolate Chip Cookies


Forrager Cookie Company

123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, VA 73531

Phone: (123) 456-7890

Produced on 2/20/2017

Instead of the statement above, honey producers must label their jars with this statement: “PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION. WARNING: Do Not Feed Honey to Infants Under One Year Old.”



Food Safety and Security Program

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Law Dates
July 2008
SB 272
July 2011
SB 1108
July 2013
HB 1852
This page was last updated on


Would anyone have thoughts/guidance on whether a prefab shed might satisfy the home inspection needs in order to keep a location separate from pets? I’m looking to sell spices online.

Hi there – I am a baker and cake decorator that recently relocated from CA to Arlington county. I worked under Cottage Law in Sacramento, and am now trying to understand the requirements necessary for me to do so here in Arlington. I have a few questions.

I spoke to a health inspector here in Arlington, and was told to be able to legally prepare and sell goods at a local farmer’s market, I would need to work from a commercial kitchen space because the appliances in my home are not commercial grade. Is this correct?

Does the same rule apply for selling cakes and pies out of my home, and not through farmer’s markets? I’ve read on you site that Cottage Law in VA allows bakers to sell goods from thei home and NOT have to have their kitchen inspected, so long as the items are not perishable or meet the refrigeration requirements. Why was I told otherwise? From what I understand from your site, Itis lawful for me to work from home, without commercial grade appliances, so long as I A)do not sell perishable items or B) If I do sell perishable items, I have my NORMAL grade kitchen inspected to ensure proper storage requirements are met.

I appreciate any help you can give in clearing up my confusion. I hope that I am legally able to sell my cakes from home without a commercial kitchen.

Would I be able to sell homemade chocolate and peanut butter wasted eggs? It would be a seasonal bakery. Also, according to this, would people be able to order online but it would be required for them to pick it up?

Would I be able to sell homemade chocolate peanut butter eggs? It would be a seasonal bakery… also, can people order it online according to this but they would have to pick it up, like it would not be delivered to them? Would that be ok?

I noticed that there are no sales on the internet, does that mean all sales must be cash or check? Would having a paypal account be a no go?

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