Retail Food Establishments Serving Meals and Catering

​​​​​A retail food establishment serving meals license is required if you prepare, serve or sell meals to the public. It can be issued by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection or its Agent health departments. Other types of food-based business include food processors, wholesalers and retail food stores which also require a license from DATCP. Organizations such as youth groups, churches and service clubs that may occasionally (defined as no more than 3 days during any 12-month period) prepare, serve or sell food to the public do not need a retail food establishment- serving meals license.

A retail food establishment serving meals includes any building, room, or place where meals are prepared, served, or sold to the general public and all places used in connection with the building, room, or place; and any public or private school lunchroom for which food service is provided by contract.


  • Each license issued by the department expires June 30 of each year.
  • License dates extend from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the following year.
  • If a license is granted after April 1 of a license year, that license will extend to June 30 of the following year. 
    • Example: If a business is licensed by​ the department on April 1, 2017, then its license will expire June 30, 2018.
  • Renewal fees for existing establishments shall be submitted to the Department before June 30 each year.


Type of Facility (Retail Food Establishment Serving Meals)Annual License FeeOne Time Pre-Inspection Fee
Moderate ​$330​$470



Food Manager Requirements​


  1. To obtain a license through the department, first 608-224-4923 or email ​our licensing specialists.
  2. The licensing specialist will get you the information you need and will explain the process steps to you.​