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Apply for a restaurant licence

In certain cases, you need a permit to operate a catering business.

A catering trade is operated by anyone who, as part of an established business

  • Serves drinks for consumption on the premises (pub trade) or
  • serves prepared food for consumption on the premises (catering),

if the establishment is open to the public or to certain groups of persons.

A person who, as an independent tradesman, provides drinks or prepared meals for consumption on site from a fixed place of business for the duration of the event also operates a catering trade if the business is accessible to everyone or to certain groups of people.

If these conditions are met, you must always apply for a permit.

However, you do not need a permit if you only

  • non-alcoholic beverages,
  • free samples,
  • prepared meals or
  • serve drinks and prepared meals to guests in connection with an accommodation business.

If you operate a restaurant as a travelling trade in these cases, however, you need a travelling trade permit for this.

For a pub or restaurant where drinks are usually served, you only need a permit if the drinks are alcoholic.

You can obtain a restaurant licence as a

  • A new licence,
  • A licence after alterations, or
  • Permission to run a restaurant by proxy.

Prerequisite

  • There are no facts that indicate that you do not possess the reliability required for the business operation, for example
    • that you are addicted to alcohol or
    • give rise to fears that you will exploit inexperienced, reckless or weak-willed persons, or
    • will encourage alcohol abuse, illegal gambling, receiving stolen goods or immorality, or
    • will not comply with the regulations of health or food law, labour or youth protection.
  • The premises for the operation of the business or for the accommodation of employees must be suitable for the business in terms of location, condition, equipment or layout.
    Above all, they must meet the necessary requirements for the protection of guests and employees against dangers to life, health or morals or the requirements otherwise necessary for the maintenance of public safety or order.
  • The premises must be barrier-free for people with disabilities.
    This applies to rooms in the following buildings:
    • Buildings for which, after 1 November 2002, a building permit was granted for
      • the initial construction,
      • for a substantial conversion or
      • for a substantial extension, or
    • if no planning permission is required: buildings completed, substantially altered or extended after 1 May 2002.

An exception only applies if a barrier-free design of the rooms is not possible or can only be achieved at unreasonable expense.

  • The business operation is not contrary to the public interest with regard to its local location or the use of the premises.
    Above all, there must be no fear of harmful environmental effects within the meaning of the Federal Immission Control Act (Bundes-Immissionsschutzgesetz) or other significant disadvantages, dangers or nuisances for the general public.
  • Proof by means of a certificate from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce responsible for you that you or your deputy have been instructed in the basic principles of food law knowledge required for the operation and can be considered familiar with them.

Responsible department

the catering authority

Depending on the place where the restaurant is operated, the catering authority is the municipality/city administration or the district administration.

Standard port

Enter the location of your business premises in the location selection.

Procedure

You must apply for a restaurant permit in writing or in electronic form to the competent authority. Your application must be signed by hand or provided with a qualified electronic signature. You can also replace the written form by

  • submitting the declaration in an electronic form provided by the competent body in an input device on site or via the internet. If you submit your declaration via the internet, you must prove your identity by using the electronic ID function of your identity card or residence permit
  • send a sender-confirmed De-Mail to the competent authority. Sender-confirmed means that your De-Mail provider confirms in the De-Mail with a qualified electronic signature that
    • he/she has received this exact message content from you and
    • You have logged in to your De-Mail account for sending this De-Mail using the electronic ID function of your identity card or another secure method instead of your user name and password.

You must provide the required information and submit those documents that may be relevant for the assessment of your application.

Deadlines

none

Required documents

  • Completed application form
  • Copy of identity card or comparable identification document, in the case of electronic communication the proof of identification prescribed for the respective communication channel, e.g. electronic signature, secure proof of identity
  • For proof of entrepreneurial legal form:
    • if the company has its registered office in Germany:
    • if the company is domiciled abroad: documents from the country of domicile proving the legal form.
  • For the proof of personal reliability:
  • Proof of instruction from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce(IHK) responsible for you on participation in instruction on food and hygiene regulations or certificate from the IHK on the existence of a final examination in a state-recognised training occupation which makes the instruction unnecessary
  • If a deputy is to run the pub, additionally:
    • Application for a deputy's permit
    • personal documents of the substitute
  • Building plans, ground plan drawings, site plans

The competent authority may request further documents to verify personal reliability.

In the case of legal entities (limited liability companies, companies limited by shares, registered cooperatives), you only have to fill out the application form for the legal entity itself. You must submit all personal documents for all natural persons authorised to manage the company, e.g. personnel papers. For the legal entity, you also need an extract from the Central Business Register.

Partnerships (GbR, KG, OHG, PartG, GmbH & Co. KG) are not eligible for a licence as such. Therefore, each managing partner requires a permit. For each of these persons you must submit a completed application form and all personal documents.

Costs

The amount of the fees is determined by the fee statutes of the municipality or city or by the fee ordinance of the district administration.

Processing time

The authority must decide on your application within a period of three months. This period begins with the receipt of the complete documents. After expiry of this period, the permit applied for is deemed to have been granted if your application is sufficiently specific.

Note: The authority may reasonably extend the deadline once if this is justified by the difficulty of the matter. The authority must give reasons for this extension of time and notify you in good time.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Wirtschaftsministerium and the Innenministerium released it on 07.12.2022. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.