Food Establishment Licenses

Stock Image of a restaurant table setting

The construction and operation of all food establishments in Arlington County must comply with Chapter 9.2, Food and Food Handling Code of the Arlington County Code. Arlington County has adopted and follows the most recent edition of the FDA Food Code.

Applying for a License

A Health License and pre-opening inspection are required for new food establishments or whenever there is a change of ownership, and the license must be renewed annually.

  • Application(PDF, 223KB)
  • An application processing fee of $40. Payable via phone, mail, or in-person. Make checks payable to the Arlington County Treasurer.
  • Once you have submitted your application and completed the requirements outlined in this checklist(PDF, 83KB), you can schedule a pre-opening inspection.

2022 FDA Food Code Update

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the 2022 edition of the Food Code. Arlington County Code Chapter 9.2, Food and Food Handling adopts the most current version of the Food Code. This means that your establishment must comply with the changes immediately.

The significant changes in the 2022 Food Code include:

  • Adding sesame as the 9th major food allergen to reflect the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2021 (Chapter 1. Purpose and Definitions)
  • Requiring food establishments to inform consumers, in writing, of major food allergens as ingredients in unpackaged food (3-602.12)
  • Requiring food establishments to label major food allergens in bulk foods (e.g., baked goods) that are available for consumer self-dispensing (3-602.11)
  • Requiring approval to allow pet dogs in outdoor dining spaces (6-501.115). Note: Arlington County already requires food establishments to apply for dog dining.
  • Revising the definition of intact meat, including clarifying time/temperature cooking requirements (Chapter 1. Purpose and Definitions)

The 2022 Food Code and the full Summary of Changes are available on the FDA website. If you have questions about the changes, please contact the Environmental Health Program.

Read the letter to food establishments: English(PDF, 87KB); Spanish(PDF, 88KB)

Variance for Outdoor Cooking

Arlington restaurants may apply for a variance that permits outdoor cooking.

Public Notice of Inspection Reports

Food establishments must notify customers that a copy of their most recent inspection report is available upon request by posting a sign or placard in a location that is conspicuous to customers, or by another method acceptable to the health department (12VAC5-421-3750). To help facilities comply with this requirement, the Virginia Department of Health created sample signage (one for horizontal orientation(PDF, 2MB), one for vertical orientation(PDF, 2MB), and each file has both a dark-background and printer-friendly version of each orientation). Food establishments are not required to use these exact signs as long as they comply with this regulation.

Starting a Business, BizLaunch

Visit BizLaunch, Arlington’s small business and entrepreneurial assistance network, and your one-stop-shop for everything you’ll need to know about starting or growing a business in Arlington.

Tagged as: