Dairy distributor

Once you make the decision to start a dairy distribution business, there are several steps to follow before you can legally operate.

Take a look at each of the sections below for all the information you'll need to get started, including a checklist of requirements before you apply for a dairy licence with Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV).

To operate a dairy distributor business in Victoria you are required under the Dairy Act 2000 to be licensed with DFSV and comply with the conditions of that licence. Dairy distributor licence holders must also comply with all relevant provisions of the Food Act 1984 and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in the conduct of the dairy business and the handling, storage and distribution of dairy food.

The Victorian dairy licence handbook outlines what is required to obtain and operate under a DFSV dairy licence.

Exemptions from having to hold a dairy industry licence

Some businesses oversee the manufacture or distribution of mixed food commodities, for example, a business may manufacture baked goods such as cakes or biscuits as well as a small proportion of cream cheese. In these instances, in order to ensure small business is not subject to undue regulatory burden, Victoria’s single food regulator policy comes into effect. This is where food regulators work collaboratively to determine who should regulate the business.

Such decisions are informed by the activities conducted by the business, including the food safety risk, the proportion of food type produced and whether the site already holds a relevant registration or licence in Victoria with another food regulator. In some circumstances, DFSV may grant exemptions from having to hold a dairy industry licence to dairy manufacturers and distributors under Section 22A (1) of the Victorian Dairy Act 2000, provided certain policy and statutory requirements are met.

For general Dairy Manufacturers and Distributors

A written exemption from the requirement to hold a dairy industry licence may be granted if the proportion of dairy food manufactured or distributed is less than 50% of the site’s total food production and it meets the below conditions:

  1. Does not receive raw milk AND
  2. Holds a current and valid local government registration under the Victorian Food Act 1984 (or a licence with PrimeSafe under its relevant Acts)  AND
  3. Has in place a quality assurance or food safety program which has been assessed by DFSV to adequately cover dairy food safety.

For ice-cream Manufacturers 

An automatic exemption exists (i.e. there is no need to apply to DFSV for a written exemption) if the business meets the following conditions:

  1. Does not receive raw milk AND
  2. Holds a current and valid local government registration under the Food Act 1984 AND
  3. Does not wholesale any product i.e., the business ONLY undertakes direct retail sale to consumers for consumption on the premises where it has been manufactured, or take away for immediate consumption.

Please note: Applications for exemption received from export-registered facilities (or those seeking to undertake export activities) will be considered in conjunction with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

  1. Check eligibility
    Contact DFSV before applying if dairy products are a small portion of the total product mix you distribute in your business, you are already licensed with council, or are not storing product on your premises.

  2. Ensure your premises meets the requirements
    Your premises and equipment must comply with relevant provisions of the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code to ensure dairy foods are protected during storage and distribution to prevent chemical, microbiological and physical contamination.

  3. Establish records
    Dairy distributors are required under the Food Act to maintain records with respect to temperature control and traceability of product. Further information on the records you are required by law to keep is available in the DFSV Dairy distributor guideline.

  4. Ensure adequate skills
    Ensure you have the necessary skills and competency to manage food safety in your business. 

Need help?
If you have any questions or need more information contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or  03 9810 5900.

A dairy distributor licence must be held by the person or entity in charge of operating the business and therefore ultimately responsible for the safety of the dairy food handled. The applicant must be a licensable legal entity (e.g. natural person in law, registered partnership, company or Trustee and trust)

If you plan to operate at more than one site each site must be licensed separately with DFSV or if two separate businesses operate from the same premises, each may be required to hold a licence.


Submitting your application

Applications for new licences and licence cancellations can be downloaded and printed. Return completed forms to DFSV with applicable payment made by EFT (EFT details are on the application form).

New licence (distributor)         Cancel a licence  

Click here  for a dairy distributor application information pack

Click  here for information regarding application terminology


Please note that it is an offence under the Dairy Act 2000 to commence operations prior to the licence being issued by Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

Once your application is received a DFSV food safety manager will make contact with you within seven business days after full application has been submitted ie, an application where the application form, fee and food safety program have been submitted. You will have 14 days to supply full details after submitting your application, otherwise your application may be refused and the application fee refunded.

In order to assist DFSV in processing your application within 60 business days from receipt, please ensure that:

  • The application form is complete and includes relevant payment, and
  • A record keeping process meets DFSV Dairy distributor guidelines
  • Any requested changes to your record keeping requirements draft submitted must be completed and returned within a 30 day period. Failure to do so may result in your application being refused and the application fee forfeited. 

The distributor premise should also be compliant with the relevant legislation.

If these conditions are not met your licence application may not be progressed within this period and may be subject to cancellation after three months from the date of application unless an extension is granted by a member of DFSV's Senior Management Team. Applicants will be advised that their application has been refused and that a new application will be required to be submitted. No refund is issued.
A licence application may be refused if the applicant fails to meet the licence approval requirements.

Application fee

The one-off application fee for new dairy distributor licences is $200.15

Licence fees
These are paid to DFSV annually for the license period 1 January to 31 December.

Where a business distributes dairy and non-dairy food, it is currently only the volume/weight of the dairy food distributed that is used to calculate the fees.

Dairy distributor

Rate per annum$127.45