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Restaurant licence and regulation laws

From A3 usage licences to hygiene in restaurant regulations, Startups takes a look at what you need to know




Restaurant regulations

There is currently no law or regulations requiring you to obtain any formal training or qualifications before you open a restaurant. However, it’s important that you have the appropriate level of training (or supervision) to do your job effectively, efficiently, and safely.

When you’re running a restaurant, there are a number of licenses and certificates that you need to acquire in order to remain compliant with the relevant regulations.

These include:

  • Food Hygiene Certificate – This certificate proves that you are aware of, and operating under, the appropriate food hygiene and health and safety regulations. This is an essential, legal requirement for any restaurant. It goes without saying that food hygiene laws are extremely comprehensive. With this in mind, when you’re setting up your restaurant business, you’ll need to think very carefully about where you set up and what equipment you buy. Remember that Environmental Health Officers make regular, often unannounced, visits to food-based businesses. If they think you’re not up to scratch, they have the power to close you down!
  • Pest control regulations for restaurants You have a legal requirement to have “adequate procedures” in place to ensure pests are controlled. Read more in the Government's legislation on The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations.
  • Food Premises Approval – If you restaurant handles any meat, fish, egg, or dairy products (so all restaurants aside from strictly vegan ones), you must be inspected and approved by your local council in order to obtain Food Premises Approval. You can apply for this license here.
  • Restaurant insurance – You’ll need Public Liability Insurance to protect you in the event of legal action if your customers suffer personal injury or property damage because of your business. This insurance will cover your legal expenses or any compensation claims.
  • PRS for Music license – If you play music for your customers or staff, you need to obtain legal permission from the relevant copyright owners. For this, you will need a PRS for Music license.
  • Alcohol licence – If you plan to offer alcohol on your menu, you’ll need to obtain an Alcohol On-License, which will allow you to sell alcohol to be consumed on site. You’ll need to visit your local council website in order to find out more and apply for this license.
  • Building Permit – If you decide to build your own bespoke premises or make additions or alterations to an existing structure, you’ll need a construction permit. Again, this will be obtained from your local council.
  • Planning permission – In addition to gaining permission to make physical changes to a building, you will also need to check permission to use the building as a restaurant. Often, you will need planning permission to change from one use class to another if the building was not previously 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.' See more in the Government's legislation on use class classification.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is the body appointed by the government to oversee all food safety standards. When you’re starting your own restaurant, they’re a great source of information and guidance. Their Safer Food, Better Business guide will help you to ensure that you comply fully with the law, whilst ensuring that your premises is safe for the public.