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Opening a Restaurant in Ireland

Updated on Thursday 18th March 2021

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Ireland attracts tourists and businesspersons from all over the world which is why tourism is a very appealing industry to set up a business in. Among its branches, restaurants are quite appreciated by those who visit Irish cities.
 
Setting up a restaurant business in Ireland can take various forms, from the classic dining places to cafes and bars, but also Ireland’s renowned pubs where food and drinks can be served.
 
If you want to open a restaurant here and need assistance, our Irish company formation advisors are at your service throughout the entire registration procedure.

What to consider when opening a restaurant in Ireland

The creation of a restaurant or any other establishment that serves food and drinks in Ireland implies a good organization. A good plan and premises of the place must be carefully considered, and with respect to the location of the restaurant the following aspects should be paid attention to:
 
  1. the venue must be located in a place that is easy to access and visible;
  2. the chosen location must be large enough to host both the kitchen and storage places, but also the dining area (and bar, where applicable);
  3. the place must meet all safety requirements and must be connected to the sewage and water supply systems;
  4. the venue must also comply with all health security and fire safety requirements in place for such establishments.
 
Another aspect to consider when setting up a restaurant in Ireland is insurance. Even if this not a requirement, it is worth taking it into account as it can insure the place against:
 
  • - fire;
  •  -theft;
  • - employers’ liability for various damages;
  • - accidents and illness of the staff. 
 
Opening an Irish restaurant can go smoothly as long as all the matters presented above are considered from the beginning.
Once these steps are taken care of, you can resort to company registration advisors in Ireland who will start the incorporation of the selected business form.
 

Business forms that are suitable for an Irish restaurant

 
Apart from the logistics and business planning a restaurant requires, the future owners must also consider other aspects such the legal form under which it will run, as this is the first step to complete when opening a food and drinks company.
 
The private limited liability company is often the selected legal entity of local entrepreneurs who can register it quickly and without any delays. This structure is also recommended foreign investors who can benefit from the same registration requirements.
 
An important thing to consider when opening a restaurant in Ireland is its name which must appeal to clients. It is also recommended to have it registered as a trademark in order to benefit from enhanced protection.
 
The entire registration of the business can be handled by our specialists in company formation in Ireland without you even having to worry about the procedure.

Starting 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.  
 
 

Other considerations when operating a food business in Ireland

 
Food safety and personnel training for ensuring a correct handling of food is mandatory when running a restaurant in Ireland. For the first situation, a HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point) plan must be put in place to ensure the food produced in the location is safe. Then, all employees handling it must have medical certifications that ensures they are healthy.
 
Employees must also be supervised and instructed in food hygiene in accordance with their level of implication in the work.
 
Considering that in the last few years, many entrepreneurs decided to set up small food business that also deliver food, one must know that the same requirements apply in their case.
 
Setting up a restaurant in Ireland requires a lot of attention when it comes to preparing and serving food, which is why ensuring its correct handling is subject to very stringent requirements and controls of various authorities, as seen above.
 
If you need information on the legislation related to preparing and selling food, our agents in Ireland can advise you.
 

Statistics on the restaurant industry in Ireland

 

The food sector is one of the most prolific in Ireland, as in the past few years, most of the businesses operated as restaurants and takeaways. According to statistics:
 
  • - between 2015 and 2020 this industry registered an average growth of 1.4% per year;
  • - the market size of restaurants and takeaways together reached a value of 3 billion euros during these years;
  • - the industry accounted for more than 10,000 businesses;
  • - it also employed more than 64, 000 individuals.
 
If you are interested in setting up this type of business, you can obtain detailed information from our Irish representatives.
 
 
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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