What DIAL Regulates
The Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing regulates food businesses such as:
- Restaurants, cafeterias, and delicatessens
- Bars and taverns (including those that only serve beverages)
- Grocery and convenience stores
- Catering operations
- Mobile food units
- Farmers markets and temporary food events
- Hotel breakfast bars
- Vending machines
- Home food processing establishments
- Food processing plants and warehouses
DIAL also regulates hotels, motels, and inns (including bed-and-breakfast inns). If you are interested in any of these licenses, please find additional information and a link to apply for a license below.
- A license cannot be issued for a home family kitchen, with the exception of a home food processing establishment license.
- The Alcoholic Beverages Division also regulates the sale of beer, wine, and liquor.
- The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship regulates slaughter and processing facilities in Iowa that produce products for wholesale within the state of Iowa, as well as dairy farms, processors, and transporters, and commercial animal feed and pet food.
How to Apply for a Food License
DIAL's online food licensing system allows those operating food and lodging establishments, food processing operations, and food-related events in Iowa to easily complete license applications and renewals online.
License renewals can be made online providing the license is not more than 60 days overdue. New license applications can also be made online. Both Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) AND credit/debit card payments are accepted. There is a $1 transaction fee for bank transfers and a 2.5 percent transaction fee for credit and debit cards.
Please note: New applications and renewal applications that do not include the previous year's gross sales will pay the maximum license registration fee.
Licensing guides are available for each license type. For general instructions on submitting a license application for a new business, please view our guide for new food licenses.
- All license applications must be filled out completely. Applications not completed properly will be returned and will delay processing and approval times.
- A separate license must be applied for each location where food production, sales or service will take place.
- Food licenses are nontransferable between locations or owners.
- The approved license will be sent to the email address provided. If no email address is available, the permit will be mailed (please plan accordingly).
- When completing your application, make sure you choose the appropriate jurisdiction (see map under "Regulatory Authorities" below). Choosing the wrong jurisdiction for your license will result in a delay when processing your application.
- Each operator of a temporary food stand is responsible for printing their license and bringing it to the event where it must be displayed in the food stand within the public’s sight.
- Temporary food establishment and event license applications must be received in enough time to ensure that licenses can be emailed or mailed back to the vendor prior to the event.
- Due to the high number of applications received, DIAL asks that food vendors for events apply at least 30 days in advance of your event.
- DIAL cannot guarantee that your application will be processed in time for your event if these timelines are not met, or your application contains errors or misinformation. Please note that providing food without a license or permit is subject to a penalty equal to double the license fee.
Regulatory Authorities and Contacts
Food safety inspections and foodborne illness/complaint investigations are conducted by State employees working for the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau, as well as inspectors working for local health departments under contract to the Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing.
Additionally, DIAL has designated experts on staff to answer questions about specific topics like farmers markets, food code and inspections, food processing and warehousing, licensing and renewals, plan review for food businesses, consumable hemp, and complaints and emergencies. See map and contact information.