Getting Started: Farmstays
Looking to host guests on your farm overnight? Here are some regulations, permits and licenses to think about when getting started.
Land Use Regulations
Read through the zoning regulations for your municipality and familiarize yourself with Act 143. To determine if your agritourism addition meets the specifications of Act 143, you can use the guide above.
- Obtain a zoning permit (if necessary).
- Determine if your municipality requires a site plan review.
- Submit an application and site plan review to your municipality (if necessary).
Note: There is potential for an exception if you are using an existing house to host your farm stay, but you should still read through the regulations for your municipality. Developing a space to offer lodging is just like developing a big hotel (in the eyes of Vermont), in terms of the rules and regulations. However, if you are not doing any sort of construction but are offering a rental space on your property, you do not need any permits and licensing at the state level. Read more about the rules and regulations under the rental accessory unit law.
- Meet with a regional permit specialist ; they can help you determine what permits you’ll need.
- If proposing construction/renovations for a commercial purpose or otherwise, contact a Natural Resources Board (NRB) district coordinator to determine whether an Act 250 land use permit application is required .
- Obtain a wastewater permit , or make sure the current permit is up to date.
- Any farmstay that has three or more rooms or prepares meals requires a lodging license .
- If you do not prepare food and you offer one or two rooms for short-term rental housing, you must follow the Short-Term Rental Safety, Health, and Financial Obligations (PDF). In this scenario, a lodging license is not required from the Health Department.
- If you will be serving or selling alcohol, look into a malt and vinous beverage license (PDF).
Lodging License and Food Establishment Regulations
If someone is spending the night at your establishment, you should evaluate if your operation meets the definition of lodging which would then require a lodging license from the Department of Health. In addition, you should also read the licensed lodging establishment rule .
For help, email the Vermont Department of Health at AHS.VDHFoodandLodging@vermont.gov or call (802) 863-7221.
- Guide (PDF) to learn about health regulations for food establishments in Vermont.
- Checklist (PDF) to learn about food establishment facility requirements to help you get ready for an inspection.
- Resource (PDF) to learn more about creating a rental space on your property without needing a lodging license.
- Use this flowchart , located under “Frequently Asked Questions,” to help you determine when a rental is considered a Lodging Establishment versus a Short Term Rental or neither of the two