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Getting approval for a home business

A home business is typically defined as a business that is carried on in a dwelling, or in a building ancillary to a dwelling, such as a garage or a studio.

You can operate your home business without Council approval if:

  • it employs no more than five people (other than those living in the residence) providing they can abide by social distancing rules*
  • it has no adverse impact on the amenity of the neighbourhood by reason of the emission of noise, vibration, smell (including cooking smells), fumes, smoke, vapour, steam, soot, ash, dust, waste water, waste products, grit or oil, traffic generation or otherwise
  • no more than one business identification sign is displayed
  • any goods offered for sale are produced in the home business (with the exception of online retail sales)
  • your business does not involve manufacture of food products
  • your business does not involve any skin penetration procedures.

*The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces made the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Extended Operation) Order 2020 on 25 March 2020. The order allows home businesses to operate 24 hours per day and to employ more than two people other than the permanent residents of the dwelling, but not more than five people, providing they can abide by social distancing rules. These measures will be kept in place until 31 March 2022.

Requirements for home businesses can be found in Part 2, Division 1, Subdivision 22 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 with relevant definitions in the Standard Instrument—Principal Local Environmental Plan (2006 EPI 155a). Specific requirements for home businesses operating in your local government area can be found in your Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Check your Council’s website for their LEP or contact Council for further guidance.

If you need Council approval, the level of approval will depend on the potential impacts of your proposed business on the site and surrounding amenity, neighbours and/or locality. There may be further requirements depending on your exact location and circumstances, for example if there are any heritage considerations.

If you are unsure, contact your Council’s Planning Team for further assistance. They will be able to guide you around Council planning approval pathways. Further general information on planning considerations can be found on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s website.

Home-based child care

Family Day Care is a form of home-based child care. A Family Day Care service is a network of training and registered educators who provide care for other people’s children in their own homes. Family Day Care educators are registered with Family Day Care service providers or operators, which support and supervisor educators.

Family Day Care is a highly regulated sector. Family Day Care services and educators must comply with the ‘Education and Care Services National Regulations’ and the ‘Children (Education and Care Services National Law Application) Act 2010 No 104’, as well as work under the National Quality Standard.

Councils have different requirements in regards to operating a Family Day Care in your own home. Family Day Care educators need to meet certain specific requirements to operate if they are located on bush fire prone land as per the requirements of Clause 3.4 under the Housing Code.

Further information is provided by NSW Family Day Care Association.

Home businesses that provide skin penetration services

Skin penetration procedures that are not performed by people registered as health professionals are regulated by the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) and Public Health Regulation 2012 (NSW).

Skin penetration procedures include:

  • beauty treatments such as body waxing, nail treatment
  • cosmetic enhancements such as cosmetic fillers, chemical peel
  • tattooing
  • body piercing
  • acupuncture
  • or any other process involving penetration of the skin such as colonic lavage, blood cholesterol and glucose measurement.

Procedures carried out by barbers and hairdressers, where skin penetration is not intended as part of the process, are not considered to be skin penetration procedures. The hairdressing industry is regulated by the Hairdressers Act 2003 (NSW) (the Act) that requires hairdressers to have obtained an authorised qualification (Certificate III in Hairdressing) by a registered training organisation to operate. This is as per Clause 3 and 4 of the Act. Business operators may also need to comply with local requirements. Contact your local Council for further information.

Under the Public Health Regulation 2012, a home business providing skin penetration procedures must notify the local Council’s Environmental Health department of the business activity details prior to the opening of the business with regard to the compliance of the premises and the equipment. A notice template is available from NSW Health.

Council’s Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) are authorised to carry out regular inspections or as a result of a complaint to ensure the premises comply with Council health and safety guidelines.

Further information regarding health requirements for skin penetration practices is provided by NSW Health.

Note that under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007, health consulting rooms are rooms within a house used by not more than three health care professionals at any one time. A development application is required if you want to set up a home health consulting room.

Your Council may have separate policies for health consulting rooms, which may include additional requirements such as parking. Contact your local Council for more information.

Home food businesses

Home businesses that handle food intended for sale must comply with the Food Act 2003 (NSW) and the Food Standards Code. You may also need to appoint a Food Safety Supervisor depending on what kinds of food you will prepare and sell.

Food manufacturing businesses must also comply with the requirements of the technical standard ‘AS 4674 – 2004, Design, construction and fit-out of food premises’.

Contact your Council's Environmental Health Department regarding requirements prior to the opening of the food business. Your local Council may not approve home businesses, which handle high risk foods such as dairy products, seafood, deli meats or eggs.

Visit the NSW Food Authority for information on the obligations for food businesses and issues to consider, or download their home-based food business fact sheet