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Which Licenses, Permits and Certificates Does My New Restaurant Need?

So, you’ve managed to secure a brilliant site with fantastic architectural features, excellent location and the chef of your dreams. What next? When establishing your first restaurant, there is a list of permits, licenses and certificates you need to have before you can open your doors. We have gathered these into a checklist below so you can make sure everything is covered and nothing slips through the net, ensuring your opening is dazzling and drama-free. 


Food Hygiene Certificate 

This certificate is a legal requirement for any restaurant and proves that the owner is aware of, and is implementing, suitable food hygiene and health and safety regulations. Environmental Health Officers are known to make regular, often unannounced, visits to check up on restaurants, bars and cafes to ensure compliance. If they don’t like what they see, they can shut the business down.  


Restaurant insurance 

Public liability insurance is essential for protecting owners from legal action if a customer suffers personal injury or property damage in your establishment. The insurance will cover legal expenses as well as any compensation claims.  


Pest control 

The governments have set out specific legislation around pest control, which can be found here. Essentially, owners have a legal requirement to put in place ‘adequate procedures’ to make sure pests are controlled.  


Food Premises Approval 

Any restaurants that handle meat, fish, dairy or eggs, which tends to be any restaurants that are not strictly vegan, must be inspected and approved by the local council. Once they have completed their inspection, Food Premises Approval is then granted. Apply for your license here 


Alcohol license 

After food, comes alcohol. If an owner intends to serve alcohol, they need to obtain an Alcohol On-License. This allows you to serve alcohol which is consumed on site. To find out about the local licensing in your area, click here. 


PRS for music license 

Part of any successful restaurant is the ambience. In order to play music in a bar or restaurant, the owner needs to obtain legal permission to do so. This is due to the copyright that exists on most music. However, you can solve this problem by acquiring a PRS for Music license that allows you to crank up the tunes. Click here to find out more. 


Building permit 

Any changes an owner makes to the premises have to be approved in advance. If you want to start from scratch or make additions or alterations to an existing structure, you will need a construction permit, which can be given by your local council.  


Planning permission 

As well as getting permission to make physical changes, owners also need to make sure they can get permission to use the building they have purchased as a restaurant. Planning permission is usually required to change from one use class to another if the building did not originally house a restaurant. The standard ‘use class’ for a restaurant is A3, which is defined as ‘Use for the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises.’ Read more here 


Useful online tools 

There are some tools online that can be useful for checking licensing and permits: 


Have more questions? We would be happy to answer them, just give us a call on +44 (0)20 7935 2222 or email us at 


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