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Opening a Restaurant in Ireland

Updated on Thursday 07th February 2019

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Opening-a-restaurant-in-IrelandStarting a food business in Ireland

Foreign investors wanting to open a restaurant or other type of food business in Ireland are required to meet certain strict conditions. The first step is to have the company registered with the Irish Trade Register and then get familiarized with all the requirements related to operating a food company. Our team of consultants in company registration in Ireland can provide the necessary assistance on the procedure of opening a restaurant or a catering unit in this country. 
Although opening a restaurant in Ireland is mainly completed following the regular registration procedures available for any other type of business, there are several procedures that have to be met by any company handling food products. Investors opening a company in this sector will also need to follow the below mentioned steps:
  • • submitting the necessary documentation with the relevant authorities for obtaining the necessary business permits and licenses;
  • • register with the Environmental Health Office in the Health Service Department;
  • • obtain the relevant building permits suitable for opening restaurants or cafes.

Licensing requirements for opening a restaurant in Ireland

Due to the fact that the restaurant unit will handle and sell food products, it is compulsory for those opening a company in Ireland as a catering business to apply for licenses that can allow the investors to carry their operations in this country.
An Irish restaurant is required to obtain business licenses not only for the right of selling food but also for selling alcohol or playing music. Depending on the specific of the restaurant, special licenses are required, and they can be obtained from one or more of the following authorities:
  • • a license from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for processing meat, dairy products and eggs;
  • • a license from the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) for processing fish and fishery products;
  • • a license from the Revenue Commissioners for serving alcohol in the location
  • • a license from the Irish Music Rights Organization (IMRO) if one wants to play music in the restaurant.
All licenses are subject to different fees or tariffs. Our specialists in company formation in Ireland can provide you with information about the licensing costs related to opening a restaurant, and they can also assist with advice on the overall costs related to the registration of a business (which can vary depending on the legal entity selected for incorporation). 

The special restaurant license in Ireland

The special restaurant license is comprised of the permit to sell or serve alcohol on the premises of the location and the Wine Retailers On License. This type of license is issued by an Irish District Court under the Special Restaurant License Standards of 1988. The Wine Retailers On License is granted based on the Refreshment Houses Act of 1860 and can be issued only to the owner of the Irish restaurant.

How can one apply for an Irish Wine Retailers On License? 

Local and foreign businessmen who want to open a company in Ireland will have to apply for the Wine Retailers On License when selling alcohol in their premises, as presented above. The application contains two standard forms that have to be submitted with the National Excise License Office. When applying for the first time for this type of license, the documents have to be signed by the company’s representatives, and this depends on the type of company under which the restaurant operates in Ireland
In the case of a restaurant started by a sole trader, the person signing the documents has to be the licensee, while in the case of a business operating as a partnership, one of the partners has the right to submit the application. In the case of other types of business, such as a limited liability company, the documents need to be signed by the company secretary; they may also be submitted with the signature of the company’s director
The institution will provide an answer regarding the issuance of the license within a period of 30 days since the application and, if the company receives the right to sell alcoholic beverages, then the company’s representatives will have to pay for the issuance of the license, which is imposed with a fee of EUR 500, paid on an annual basis.
It is necessary to know that the license is available for a period of one year and its expiration date takes place on 30th of September. Upon its expiration, the National Excise License Office will send an invitation to renew the document, at the beginning of September. This type of license is issued when selling wine in the premises of the restaurant, but also for serving sherry or liquors

How can a restaurant apply for a music license in Ireland? 

As presented above, when playing music in a restaurant it is necessary to apply for a music license and this is required regardless if the restaurant plays live music or recorded music through television, radio or other communication channels. The fees for this license depends on the capacity of the restaurant (measured in the number of persons that can participate at the respective event), as well as whether the restaurant obtained the license or not. 
The IMRO applies two types of fees, for licensed and unlicensed businesses and this is due to the fact that in the first year of business the company is allowed to start its activities while applying for a music license. The company can be charged with the fee for licensed businesses (which are lower than in the case of the unlicensed companies) in the first year of activity, provided that the company’s representatives have already completed their application procedure prior to starting any types of musical events in their premises. 
In the case of live events, the fee is imposed per each event which took place in the restaurant and it is calculated based on the number of participants, ranging from 100 to 700 persons. However, in the situation in which the restaurant holds a wedding event, it is necessary to know that the live music will be charged for the rates available for a capacity of up to 100 persons, regardless if the event is comprised of more people.  
Businessmen must also consider that the fees paid to the IMRO are charged with the value added tax (VAT) and they need to be paid in a period of maximum 30 days since the invoice was issued. In the case in which the company delays the payment, interest will apply following the provisions stated under the EC Regulations 2002, a document providing the legal framework for late payments at the level of the European Union. Our team of specialists in company registration in Ireland can offer more information concerning this subject.  
For complete information about the documents required to obtain a special restaurant license and fees related to it, do not hesitate to contact our local agents. Our consultants in Irish company formation can also help you with the application procedure and can provide advice on the taxes imposed on catering businesses in this country. 


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