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Wollongong City Council

Home-Based Businesses

A home-based business (officially called 'home-based enterprise') is a business that is undertaken within a home. It is usually a low-key use that does not impact surrounding neighbours or your neighbourhood.

This web page is designed as a guide for home-based enterprise operators. It covers the approvals you need, rules you must follow, and information for running your business.

If you have a question about a home-based enterprise that's not answered on this page, please contact Council for development advice or call us on (02) 4227 7111.

In NSW there are three types of home-based enterprises:

  1. Home Occupation
  2. Home Business
  3. Home Industry

Each of these terms are defined in the Wollongong Local Environmental Plan (Council’s LEP).

Home Occupation

home occupation means an occupation that is carried on in a dwelling, or in a building ancillary to a dwelling, by one or more permanent residents of the dwelling and that does not involve—

(a)  the employment of persons other than those residents, or

(b)  interference with the amenity of the neighbourhood by reason of the emission of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, vapour, steam, soot, ash, dust, waste water, waste products, grit or oil, traffic generation or otherwise, or

(c)  the display of goods, whether in a window or otherwise, or

(d)  the exhibition of any signage (other than a business identification sign), or

(e)  the sale of items (whether goods or materials), or the exposure or offer for sale of items, by retail,

but does not include bed and breakfast accommodation, home occupation (sex services) or sex services premises.

Home Business

home business means a business, whether or not involving the sale of items online, carried on in a dwelling, or in a building ancillary to a dwelling, by 1 or more permanent residents of the dwelling and not involving the following—

(a)  the employment of more than 2 persons other than the residents,

(b)  interference with the amenity of the neighbourhood because of the emission of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, vapour, steam, soot, ash, dust, waste water, waste products, grit or oil, traffic generation or otherwise,

(c)  the exposure to view, from adjacent premises or from a public place, of unsightly matter,

(d)  the exhibition of signage, other than a business identification sign,

(e)  the retail sale of, or the exposure or offer for retail sale of, items, whether goods or materials, not produced at the dwelling or building, other than by online retailing,

but does not include bed and breakfast accommodation, home occupation (sex services) or sex services premises.

Home Industry

home industry means an industrial activity, whether or not involving the sale of items online, carried on in a dwelling, or in a building ancillary to a dwelling, by 1 or more permanent residents of the dwelling and not involving the following—

(a)  the employment of more than 2 persons other than the residents,

(b)  interference with the amenity of the neighbourhood because of the emission of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, vapour, steam, soot, ash, dust, waste water, waste products, grit or oil, traffic generation or otherwise,

(c)  the exposure to view, from adjacent premises or from a public place, of unsightly matter,

(d)  the exhibition of signage, other than a business identification sign,

(e)  the retail sale of, or the exposure or offer for retail sale of, items, whether goods or materials, not produced at the dwelling or building, other than by online retailing,

but does not include bed and breakfast accommodation or sex services premises.


You can read more about home-based enterprises on the NSW Planning Portal.

Many types of home-based enterprises can be done as exempt development under a State policy, which means you don't need approval.  See the NSW Planning Portal for details.

Any home-based enterprise that involves food or skin penetration procedures needs approval.

For food-based businesses, depending on your proposed business, this can be approved through either a Development Application (DA) or a Complying Development Certificate (CDC).

For skin penetration home-based businesses, you must get approval through a Development Application.

If you're applying to run a home-based enterprise, there are some additional things you'll need to keep in mind.

Any home occupation:

  • Must not employ anyone other than those living in the residence.
  • Must not involve any retail, unless it is online retail sales only.
  • Must not involve more than 30sqm and 10% of the floor area of the residence.

Any home business or home industry:

  • Must not employ more than two employees (other than those living in the residence).
  • Can include retail of items that have been produced on site and online retail sales of items that were not produced on site.
  • Must not involve more than 30sqm for a home business and 50sqm for a home industry, and 10% of the floor area of the residence.

Your home-based enterprise must not interfere with the amenity of the neighbourhood.

You can display one small business identification sign.

If you need development advice please phone Council’s Duty Planner on (02) 4227 7111 between 9am to 5pm on work days.

For more information, see the NSW Planning Portal.

We're often asked what business activities people can run from home. Below is a list of some common activities we're asked about.

This doesn't cover every situation though, so we recommend you talk to us for development advice before setting up a new business.

Can I......Answer
Bake cakes or breads and sell them?Yes, but you need approval
Operate a food catering business from home?Yes, but you need approval
Make food to sell at a market or deliver to customers?Yes, but you need approval
Make furniture, clothes or other items and sell them?Yes
Import furniture, clothes or other items and sell them?Yes, but for online retail sales only
Buy loose food items and package them for resale?Yes, but you need approval
Sell wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages?Yes, but for online retail sales only. You will also need a liquor license - see the Office of Liquor and Gaming website for details.
Do hairdressing or barbering at home?Yes
Operate a beauty salon at home?Yes, but if it involves waxing or any other skin penetration procedures, you must get approval.
Do massage therapy at home?Yes, but if it involves acupuncture, needling or other skin penetration procedures, you must get approval.
Do tattooing (body art), piercing (body), botox injections, blood testing, derma filling / injectables, colonic lavage or body art (implantation, branding scarification or intense pulsed light) at home?No. Council doesn't allow these uses at home.
Operate a personal fitness trainer business in my home?Yes, if it is small scale. If it involves group classes you can get a licence from Council to use public spaces for these activities.
Operate a family day care or bed and breakfast accommodation?Yes, in some cases. You should check with Council's Duty Planner.

Please remember, even if a business activity is allowed at your home, it must not interfere with the amenity of the neighbourhood. You also have to comply with any relevant rules and regulations.

If you're not sure, please check with Council's Duty Planner.

Home-based food businesses

A common type of home-based business is a home-based food business. If you're cooking food for sale at your home, you must follow the same rules that apply to commercial food premises.

Preparing or storing food at home for sale is considered a food business and requires approval from Council.

Examples of home-based food businesses include:

  • Baking sweets, cakes, or bread at home in a domestic kitchen for sale at markets or school canteens
  • Home-based catering businesses
  • Bed and breakfast accommodation
  • Preparing food for sale to online customers.

Like any other home-based business, you must get development approval before you can start operating a home-based food business.

Depending on what you're proposing, this can be done through either a Development Application (DA) or a Complying Development Certificate (CDC). If you need development advice please phone Council’s Duty Planner on (02) 4227 7111 between 9am to 5pm on work days.

Council assesses applications for food businesses based on risk. Our Town Planners and Environmental Health Officers will only approve low risk home-based food businesses.

If you intend to produce high-risk foods or use commercial appliances you must operate out of a commercial kitchen. High risk foods include sushi, raw eggs, smoking meats, sous vide, or large scale operations that produce more than 10kg of food per week.

Like all food business, those based in home environments must comply with the relevant parts of the Food Act 2003, Food Regulations 2015 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code including:

  • Standard 3.2.2 Food Safety Practices and General Requirements
  • Standard 3.2.3 - Food Premises and Equipment; and
  • Part 1.2 - Labelling and other information requirements.

The construction and fit out of the premises must comply with the Food Standards Code and the relevant requirements of AS-4674/2004: Design, Construction and Fit-Out of Food Premises.

For a home-based food business to be approved, it needs to be of a suitable nature and scale. Commercial cooking equipment such as deep fryers and commercial mechanical exhaust systems are not appropriate in residential areas.

Your premises should be designed and fitted out to handle food safely and avoid contamination. There are several things to consider when setting up a home-based food business. At all times you must make sure:

  • All fixtures, fittings and equipment are in good repair and working order, are easily cleaned and free of cracks, gaps, crevices, or exposed joints.
  • Floors, walls, ceiling and benches are finished in a smooth, impervious surface that is capable of being easily and effectively cleaned.
  • There is a high standard of cleanliness. A food grade sanitiser must be available on-site at all times to effectively sanitise all utensils, equipment and food contact surfaces. If possible, remove decorative items (eg blinds, curtains, decorations, plants etc) within the food handling space.
  • Adequate facilities are provided for storage and refrigeration of food and other related items.
  • Potentially hazardous food on-site must be kept under temperature control and you must provide a digital thermometer accurate to +/-1⁰C.
  • There are adequate washing facilities on-site in accessible and convenient locations within food handling areas and in, or next to, toilet facilities. Soap and paper towels must be provided next to hand washing facilities. As a minimum, you must have a double-bowl sink with one sink dedicated to hand washing, and a dishwasher.
  • Food handling areas are protected from contamination and there is no risk of contamination from household members, visitors and or pets.

If your application is approved, you will need to register your home-based food business with Council.

If you on-sell (wholesale) to other food businesses, you will need to register with the NSW Food Authority before opening and operating your business.

Council’s Environmental Health Officers conduct random inspections of food premises across the Wollongong Local Government Area.

These inspections will check that good food safety practices are in place and food handlers have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety.

Fees apply for inspections.

  • A home-based food business must not create environmental nuisances or affect the amenity of adjoining properties or neighbours (eg noise, odour, smoke, fumes, waste, dust etc).
  • If your home-based food business is located in an unsewered area, you must have an approved licenced On-Site Sewage Management System (OSSM). See Council’s OSSM page for more information.
  • Sydney Water will not allow a grease trap connection from a residential property. This limits the types of food a home-based food business can produce. Foods that generate grease are not permitted. Please contact Sydney Water on 13 20 92 for more information.
  • No smoking is allowed in the food preparation, handling or storage areas.