Food Retail

A retail operation that stores, prepares, packages or provides food for sale for human consumption to consumers directly or through a delivery service. Food may be consumed on or off the premises.

Depending upon how the food is packaged or prepared, there are 5 classes of retail food licenses:

  • Produce, other bulk and unpackaged foods
  • Milk, dairy products, processed prepackaged meats and fish
  • Fresh meats and fish
  • Bakery/Deli
  • Multi Use - allows two or more other retail food classes, plus seating

Denver Food License Information(PDF, 309KB)

Commissary List(PDF, 95KB)

 

How to Submit an Application 

There are a variety of ways to submit a new or renewal application to the Department of Excise and Licenses. If renewing, make sure to include your business file number.

  1. All license applications not available online can be submitted via email, EXLSubmit@denvergov.org. When submitting an application, attach all documents about your license application to one email. Visit the email application process page for more information on submitting email applications.
  2. You can also mail in your application with fees to:

City and County of Denver
Department of Excise and License
201 W Colfax Ave, Dept. 206
Denver, CO 80202

Make checks payable to: Manager of Finance

3. You can also pay your fees online or via phone once you have submitted your application. We will send an invoice and you can pay virtually. Visit the online payment process page for more information.

For questions, email licenses@denvergov.org or call 311.

How to Get a New Business License

Step 1: Zoning Use Permit

A Zone Use Permit is required before obtaining an Food Retail License. If you are using a commissary, a Zone Use Permit is not required.

A use permit is a document granting the applicant/owner of a lot, building, or structure permission for the requested use of the land. "Use" can be defined as any activity, occupation, business or operation transacted in a building or on a lot/tract of land.

You can use the resources on the Internet to plan ahead before you lease or buy property and before you apply for your business license.  Follow the steps below to learn more about the approved zone uses for the address where you want to locate your business.  Start on the  Find Your Zoning page.

  1. Enter the desired address.  Click Search.
  2. Note the Zone District.
  3. Click on the + to Expand for more information. 
  4. Note the Neighborhood Context.
  5. Click on the link for the Zoning Code or in Former Chapter 59.
  6. Click on the Article # for the Neighborhood Context noted above.
  7. Open the document and scroll to the "Use" tables at the bottom of the document.
  8. Find the "Use" category in the left column and the Zone District in the columns to the right.
  9. The code in the intersecting square represents the permitted use.  (There is a key to the codes at the top of every page.)

Ultimately, the zone use permit for your business license must be approved and issued by the Zoning department.  Learn more about the Denver Zoning Code or visit the Zoning Office.

 

Applying for a Zone Use Permit

Email

zoning.review@denvergov.org

Zoning Contact Information

Step 2: Required Documents

 

Step 3: Fees

 Application Fee:  $200.00

 

The  license fees for the Food - Retail licenses are dependent upon the class of the license and number of employees.

  • Produce, other bulk and unpackaged foods
    • $95.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $160.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $235.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Milk, dairy products, processed prepackaged meats and fish
    • $110.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $200.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $305.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Fresh meats and fish
    • $135.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $285.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $425.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Bakery/Deli
    • $200.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $295.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $445.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Multi Use - allows two or more other retail food classes, plus seating
    • $200.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $295.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $445.00 - 30 or more employees

 

Fees can be paid with cash, check, money order or credit card. Checks should be made payable to Manager of Finance. Credit cards can only be accepted in person. 

 

Step 4: Required Inspections

  • Development Services (720) 865-2630 You will receive an automated message requesting information about your inspection. If you would like to speak with a representative, please call (720) 865-2505, option 6.
  • Denver Fire Department (720) 913-3409
  • Department of Public Health and Environment (720) 865-5401

Step 5: Get Your License

Notify the Department of Excise and Licenses, at licenses@denvergov.org, that you would like your license emailed to you when all of the steps below have been completed. Be sure to include your Business File Number (BFN), name of your company and address of your business when emailing this request.

  1. All documents required for the license are complete and submitted to the office.
  2. The background check, if applicable, is accepted and approved.
  3. Fees are paid in full.
  4. All required inspections, if applicable, are passed.

 

Renew a Business License

Required Documents

  • NA

Renewal Fees

The  license fees for the Food - Retail licenses are dependent upon the class of the license and number of employees.

  • Produce, other bulk and unpackaged foods
    • $95.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $160.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $235.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Milk, dairy products, processed prepackaged meats and fish
    • $110.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $200.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $305.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Fresh meats and fish
    • $135.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $285.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $425.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Bakery/Deli
    • $200.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $295.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $445.00 - 30 or more employees

 

  • Multi Use - allows two or more other retail food classes, plus seating
    • $200.00 - 1 to 9 employees
    • $295.00 - 10 - 29 employees
    • $445.00 - 30 or more employees

 

Fees can be paid with cash, check, money order or credit card. Checks should be made payable to Manager of Finance. Credit card payments are only accepted in person.

 

 

 

 

Late Renewals

Licenses must be renewed on or before the expiration date to avoid penalty fees. 

90 Day Grace Period

There is a 90 day grace period from the expiration date during which licenses can be renewed by paying the license fee and the penalty fee. However, if a license is not renewed before the expiration date, they must cease operations until the license has been renewed during this grace period.

First 30 days of grace period:  20% penalty fee

Days 31 - 90:  50% penalty fee

After 90 days:  Licensees will be required to apply for a new license

 

Renewal Policies

Department of Excise and Licenses will attempt to notify business license holders, at the email provided at time of application by business owner, of the approaching expiration date. However, failure of an email to notify a delinquent licensee that its license has expired does not excuse the licensee from any applicable late penalty.