Doing Business in Maine
Whether you’re growing, producing, processing, manufacturing, distributing or selling food in the State of Maine, your business may be required to obtain a series of licenses and permits. The following information is presented systematically to ensure compliance. Please be advised that this list is effective as of November 2016 and may be subject to changes in federal and state law. It is in your best interest to visit the websites for the most up-to-date information.
There are a number of local, regional and state organizations ready to be of assistance, but it can be confusing. The MGFPA should be your first stop, so please pick up the phone to call – 207.622.4461 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1: IRS – Form. Apply for a Federal Employer Identification (EIN) Number or Federal Tax Identification number at www.irs.gov and click Online Services. You are required to file this if you: pay wages to one or more employees; or are required to have an EIN to sue on a specific return, statement or document or plan to incorporate. Call 1.800.829.3676.
2: Most food facilities are required to register with the FDA. Registrations are required to be renewed beginning on October 1 and ending on December 31 of each even-numbered year. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FoodFacilityRegistration/default.htm
3: Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The TTB’s National Revenue Center collects tax revenues; screens applications; issues permits and approves notices or registrations; reconciles returns, reports, and claims; and provides technical assistance to Bureau employees and industry members on related laws and regulations. They may be reached at 877-882-3277 or at www.ttb.gov/. Application form #TTB F 5630.5d.
State and Local Requirements
1: Establish a bank account. Several license applications will require completed bank account information.
2: Visit your municipal office to see what licenses or permits are needed. These vary by community but may include retail license, building occupancy permit and victualer’s license and more.
3: Submit incorporation papers to the Secretary of State. If you are a corporation or wish to create one, it is recommended that you contact the Secretary of State at 207-624-7736 and speak to the Corporate Examining Section or visit their website at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/corp/index.html.
4: Maine State Income Tax Withholding and Unemployment Insurance.
– Apply for a sales tax number and unemployment compensation number by visiting www.maine.gov/revenue – click on Sales/Use and Service Provider Tax. Call them at 207-624-9693 or send them an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Have employees complete and keep in employer’s files: Employee’s Withholding Certificate W-4 obtained from the IRS and Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 obtained from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Download the form here: https://www.uscis.gov/forms.
5: Grocery Store & Food Production Licenses. Apply for a Food & Fuel License with the Maine Department of Agriculture. Application fees vary and all are subject to satisfactory inspections. Visit https://www.maine.gov/dacf/qar/permits_and_licenses/application_forms.shtml or call them at 207-287-3741.
6: Beer & Wine License. Apply for an Off Premise Liquor License with the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations by visiting https://www.maine.gov/dafs/bablo/liquor-licensing/license-and-permit-applications. Application fees may vary and all are subject to satisfactory inspection. Call them at 207-624-7220. Visit their office at 10 Water Street, Hallowell, Maine 04347.
7: Liquor License. Apply for an Agency Liquor Store License with the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations by visiting https://www.maine.gov/dafs/bablo/liquor-licensing/license-and-permit-applications. Application fees may vary. They may be reached at 207-624-7220. Visit their office at 10 Water Street, Hallowell, Maine 04347.
8: Food Stamps or SNAP. Applying to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at your store is a simple three-step process: get a US Department of Agriculture account, fill out an application online, and mail your supporting documentation to complete your file. Visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap for complete information or call them at 877-832-4369.
9: WIC Program. To obtain vendor authorization and subsequent training call 800-437-9300 or visit www.maine.gov/dhhs/wic. Acceptance is contingent on a satisfactory inspection and approval of food and pricing information. They have offices throughout the state. Visit their website for a complete listing.
10: Retail Tobacco License. To obtain a Retail Tobacco License call 207-287-5671 or visit www.maine.gov/dhhs/eng/el. Visit their office directly at 286 Water Street, Augusta.
11: Retail Seafood Licenses. To obtain Retail Seafood Licenses call 207-624-6550 or visit their website www.maine.gov/dmr for complete listing information. Their offices are located at 2 Beech Street, Hallowell.
12: Plant License. To obtain a Nursery Stock license to sell plants, contact the Maine Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industry at 207-287-3891 or visit their website www.maine.gov/agriculture/pi/horticulture and click on licensing. Their office is located at Deering Building, Blossom Way, Augusta.
13: Maine Lottery Tickets. To obtain a Lottery application, call the Maine State Lottery Commission at 800-452-8777 (in state) or 207-287-6758 or print off an application by visiting www.mainelottery.com. Completed applications must be mailed to the Maine State Lottery Commission, 8 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333. Lottery personnel will install equipment and provide equipment upon application acceptance.
14: General use Pesticide Dealer License. To obtain a General Use License to sell certain pesticides, visit http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/index.shtml or call their office at 207-287-2731.
15: Maine Milk Commission Monthly Pricing Reports: The Maine Milk Commission sets the minimum wholesale and retail price for milk every month. Milk may not be sold below set minimums. To obtain monthly price information, http://www.maine.gov/dacf/milkcommission/prices.shtml or contact the Maine Milk Commission at 207-287-7521.
16: Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
17: Required Labor Posters. To obtain labor posters call the Department of Labor at 207.624.4100 or visit their website at http://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/. Visit this website to learn more about Occupational Safety and Health Act.
18: Good Shepherd Food Bank: The Good Shepherd Food Bank will arrange pick up of unsold items suitable to be donated. To learn more, call their Auburn facility at 207-782-3554 or visit their website www.gsfb.org.
Maine Food Producers
(NEW! July 2022) SBDC’s Starting a Food Business Webinar Recording. Accompanying Slide Deck ~ Credit: Maine Small Business Development Centers
Whether you’re selling commercially, as a home-food processor or at farmers’ markets you’re required to obtain a license to sell food products in Maine.
19. Food license applications can be accessed online through the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Quality Assurance and Regulations web site: Application for food licenses.
As sourced from the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Program: Recipe to Market: How to Start a Specialty Food Business in Maine.
“What sort of license do I need to sell my food product and who issues these licenses?
20. A state food license is required for anyone who sells processed food products in Maine.
The two regulatory agencies that license food businesses are:
1) The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry for prepared foods for retail/wholesal. The two common food licenses obtained from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry are A) a home food processor or B) a commercial food processor license.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations issues food licenses/permits, provides food inspections before and after you start your food business, and provides information about state food regulations. Inspectors are also available to conduct pre-inspections to look at your kitchen or space and to discuss ideas before you renovate.
If you have further regulatory questions, please feel free to contact Michelle Newbegin, Maine Department of Agriculture, Quality Assurance and Regulations at 207.287.3841 or email@example.com; additional contact information is available at Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry: Quality Assurance and Regulations.”
If you are interested in selling at the farmer’s markets, a mobile food vendor license will be required in addition to your other food license. Food license applications can be obtained online from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Quality Assurance and Regulations: Permit and License Application Forms. If your water source is from a well, the license application requires water test results for coliforms, nitrates, and nitrites. For a list of certified laboratories in Maine that offer water testing, please visit the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory website.
2) DHHS, Health Inspection Program for restaurants, catering, food trucks, bed & breakfasts, and inns or food producers interested in producing food products for immediate consumption by consumers. Contact information for the Health Inspection Program can be accessed at their website: Business Answers About Licensed Facilities (Maine.gov’s Division of Environmental and Community Health website). Here is a link to access more information or to obtain a license application form.
For more information, visit the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension’s website.