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A3 License: The Usage License Your Restaurant Needs?

Since the 1st September 2020, the A3 license has been replaced by the new Class E. For more information, read our blog on the topic.

Away from the glamour of opening night or the dramatic, fiery toil of a busy kitchen, the logistics of opening a new restaurant location rarely come to mind.

All commercial use property in the UK falls into a category such as A1 or D2. But this is just the beginning! Here is a guide to the licensing your restaurant property and business will need in order to perform many of the functions we take for granted from a restaurant.

Building use licensing

Building use licenses are held by a building, not a business. The license determines what kind of operation can be run out of the property. In the restaurant property industry, the relevant class is Class A. There are four subclasses.

  • A1 is used for shops and covers the sale of cold foods for consumption off-premises.
  • A2 is for professional services. This is mainly offices.
  • A3 is for restaurants and cafés where hot food is consumed on the premises.
  • A4 licenses cover drinking establishments: public houses, bars, etc.
  • A5 covers hot food takeaways

Other licensing restaurants need

Sadly, the licensing your restaurant or bar will need probably won’t end there. A whole host of other activities associated with running a restaurant or bar actually requires individual licencing.

  • Playing ambient music in your premises
  • Distributing leaflets, for example, if you have a takeaway menu you want to promote.
  • Placing tables and chairs on the street also requires permission. Street dining is key to increasing the number of covers a restaurant can handle during the busy summer evenings, so this is an important license to secure in certain locations.
  • Street advertising like sandwich boards.
  • Putting on live music events.
  • Setting up CCTV.


In London, properties with the right usage license are fiercely sought after. Work with our London property agents today, and gain access to the best properties before they hit the general market. Contact us now on 020 7935 2222 or email

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