7 Restaurant Licenses You Need To Start A Restaurant In UK

Restaurant Licenses UK

Opening a restaurant can be challenging. From inventory to alcohol, and live music to TV installation, for every little operation, you need to think about whether it is allowed by the government or not. Therefore, you need to familiarize yourself with the different restaurant licenses required to open a restaurant in the UK and how to obtain them. 

The main objectives of licensing and food safety regulations are:

  • food, health, and hygiene quality assurance
  • maintain public safety
  • prevention of crime and disorder in the restaurant premises
  • protection of children from harm
  • prevention of public nuisance
  • protection of copyrighted material

Let us dive deeper into what these licenses and certifications stand for, and why you need them.

7 Restaurant Licenses To Open A Restaurant In UK

Opening a restaurant comes with myriad legal limitations. There exists no umbrella license or certificate that covers all legal aspects. You need to acquire different licenses to abide by different laws and regulations. 

As hectic as it sounds, in this article, we have curated a list of restaurant licenses and certifications that you need in order to open up a restaurant in the UK and dodge any legal problems in the future. Although licenses vary depending on where you are exactly in the UK, these are some primary licences you need to check out.

1. Food Business Registration

When you open a restaurant business, you need to first register it with the local authorities. Food Business Registration is crucial for your business as it is meant for any activity related to preparing, storing, cooking, serving, handling, distributing, selling or supplying food. You can register for your new restaurant business here.

It is important to register for this license at least 28 days before you open up your restaurant, else you might be fined or even imprisoned for up to 2 years. After the registration, you need to prepare yourself for the inspection done by the Food Standards Agency to get a five-star rating in health and hygiene standards.

2. Food Premise Approval

All restaurants apart from the strictly vegan restaurants are required to obtain this approval. In other words, it is applicable to every restaurant that handles meat, fish, egg and dairy products.  If your restaurant handles any of the aforementioned items, it is mandatory for you to get yourself approved by the local council. Apply for this license here.

You also need this license in order to sell outside the county you are registered in. In order to apply, contact your council for an application form or directly apply online from their website. The displaying of the approval of the license varies from council to council. Running unauthorized food premises is a criminal offence and prosecutable by law. Therefore, do not forget to get this license while opening a restaurant in the UK. 

3. Premises License

The next license is for the pub and bar owners. If you intend to sell alcohol or serve hot food and drinks apart during standard restaurant operating hours, then you need to apply for this license. The cost of this license varies as per the value of your premises.

Following is the list of all the licensable activities that are included under this license:

  • Serving hot food and drinks between 11 pm and 5 am
  • Theatrical performances
  • Film shows
  • Indoor sporting events
  • Indoor or outdoor boxing or wrestling
  • Live and recorded music or facilities for making music
  • Dance or dancing facilities

Since the licence caters to alcohol permits, you need to be above 18 years of age to have this license. However, there are certain situations where you may be exempted from getting this license; situations like when the film shown include educational or promotional content or is a part of a museum or a gallery, or if the music played at your premises is incidental (live or recorded). 

Click here to apply for this license. 

Restaurant Food Premise Licenses
Source: Old Town La Quinta

4. Personal License

This is a license meant for the people selling alcoholic beverages on their premises. Again, you need to be above 18 years of age to sell and consume alcohol in the UK, which is indicative of the fact that you need to be at least 18 years old to have this license. Each drink sold in a bar or a pub is authorized only for persons having a Personal License.

Therefore, each member of your staff needs to have this license. You can go to your local authorities to apply for this license, or directly apply here.

5. Restaurant Insurance

Besides the licenses, you also need to insure your restaurant. These insurances are not licenses per se but are mandatory to cover legal and compensation costs in cases of mishaps.

Following are some of the insurances that you should take care of:

  • Public Liability Insurance: This insurance covers the cost for instances when a customer goes sick or injures themselves on your restaurant premises. 
  • Employer’s Liability Insurance: A similar insurance that you need is the Employer’s Liability Insurance that covers the legal costs of employees getting injured in the workplace.  
  • Buildings Insurance: Also known as Business Property Insurance, it covers the cost of damage to the restaurant building and everything inside it. It is usually taken care of by the landlord, but it wouldn’t hurt to check.

6. Events License

Events licenses are required if your restaurant serves alcohol only on special occasions or events and not regularly. Whenever you plan to hold an event in your restaurant that is likely to serve alcohol, you should apply for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) at least 10 days before the event. The license covers everything that a premise license covers, just on a temporary basis, i.e. the permit to sell alcoholic beverages, live music and dancing, sporting events and the permit to serve hot drinks and food between 11 pm and 5 am. Apply for this license here.

7. Music License 

Music is a good way to keep the restaurant staff happily engaged in their work as well as keep the customers hooked while they wait for their orders. Most restaurants play music while operating the front- and back-of-the-house. In this case, you need to apply for a music license from the PPL PRS, which is the UK’s music licensing company. The license is essential to reimburse the owners and performers of the track for its use in the restaurant.

You can also choose to not pay for a licence and go with royalty-free music. However, you will have to look hard to find a tracklist that goes with the theme of your ambience. 

Now that you are aware of the restaurant licenses and certifications required to set up an outlet in the UK, make sure to have all the necessary legal paperwork ready before you venture into your business. You can seek help from professionals or reach out to consultants in this domain, if required. 

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