How can we help?


What licences do you need to open a restaurant?

Opening and operating a restaurant can be an exciting venture, but it also involves navigating various legal requirements. One crucial aspect of operating a restaurant is obtaining the necessary licences and permits. These licences ensure compliance with health, safety, and regulatory standards, allowing the restaurant to operate smoothly and within the boundaries of the law. The Licensing Act 2003 establishes the statutory framework for regulating licensable activities in England and Wales. In this article, we will explore some of the key licences typically required to operate a restaurant.

1. Food Business Registration

This is a basic requirement for establishments looking to prepare, store, supply and sell food. If you plan to operate more than one site, you will need to register each property individually.

This registration is done through the local authority and should ideally be done at least 28 days before trading commences.

2. Music Licence

If you plan to offer live music or entertainment, you may need a separate licence. This ensures conformity with copyright laws and regulations governing public performances. Playing music without the appropriate licence is a copyright infringement.

In most cases the licence needed is known as ‘TheMusicLicence’ which can be applied for from PPL RRS.

3. Pavement licence

If you intend to have outdoor seating, a licence may be required. It typically includes guidelines for the use of public space, safety measures, and noise restrictions.

Applications for pavement licences should be made to the local authority that the property is located in.

These licences ensure compliance with health, safety, and regulatory standards, allowing the restaurant to operate smoothly and within the boundaries of the law.

4. Premises Licence

Frequently required for most pubs, restaurants and cafes a premises licence authorises the buying and selling of alcohol, offering entertainment, and serving food between 11am-5am. It is also worth remembering that alcohol cannot be consumed by persons under the age of 16 as part of a meal in a restaurant. Licensed premises are also required to have in place age verification policies.

To get a premises licence, you will need to either transfer an existing licence or apply for a new one with the local authority.

It is important to note that licensing requirements can vary depending on the location and type of establishment you operate. The licences listed above provide a general overview, and you may need further permissions such as Food Business Registration. Failing to obtain the required licences can result in fines, penalties, or even closure of your business. By obtaining and maintaining the appropriate licences, you can create a safe and legally compliant environment for both your staff and customers. Contact our Commercial Real Estate team for any help you might need with opening or managing your restaurant, pub or cafe.


About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

  • 12 June 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

UK data protection: Important basics

Sometimes, data protection can seem like unhelpful red tape. At other times, it is critical to cultivating a trustworthy reputation.

  • 11 June 2024
  • Immigration

UK Immigration Roundup – May to June 2024

As the UK approaches the upcoming general election, immigration remains a focal issue in political discussions. The Conservative party’s recent proposal to cap visas for skilled migrant workers has alarmed various industries who are concerned that a limit to migration could harm vital sectors of the UK economy.

  • 06 June 2024
  • Employment

Talking Employment Law: What does the new Worker Protection Act 2023 mean for employers?

In this podcast, Lucy Densham Brown and Shauna Jones, members of the employment team, will review the new Worker Protection Act 2023 and provide some guidance on how employers should review their policies in preparation for October.

  • 03 June 2024
  • Commercial Real Estate

Sustainability and commercial property: green leases  

Climate change is considered by many the biggest threat we are facing today. With the UK said to have one of the oldest housing/building stocks, the focus on a building’s environmental performance and sustainability has never been more critical.

  • 03 June 2024
  • Employment

Using AI technologies in recruitment: is it fair and transparent?

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, where artificial intelligence (AI) plays an increasingly pivotal role in HR and recruitment processes, ensuring responsible and ethical implementation is paramount.

  • 03 June 2024
  • Employment

Navigating the Labour Party’s New Deal for Working People: Legal implications and opportunities

Join Monica Atwal and Amanda Glover, for this in-person seminar on ‘Navigating the Labour Party’s New Deal for Working People: Legal Implications and Opportunities’ at our Reading office on Thursday, 20th June.