Starting a Business in the Gastronomy Industry

An application for a restaurant licence must be submitted to the responsible licensing authority (a provisional license when taking over operations). A license is not required if no alcohol is served. (Accommodation establishments don’t need a licence either, even if they serve alcohol to guests. This also applies for guests of these guests. However, a licence is required for accommodation establishments if alcohol is also served to guests other than guests staying in the establishment, e.g. in public gastronomic facilities attached to the hotel such as hotel restaurant, bar, etc.)

The licencing authority is the Trade Licencing Office in the respective city district. You need the following for the application:

  • Proof of a suitable restaurant/pub (preliminary contract, lease, purchase contract)
  • Participation in the certification course from the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (several hours of instruction concerning food law issues)
  • Police clearance certificate (no previous convictions), which can be applied for at the Register’s Office/Citizen Centre.
  • Extract from the Central Trade Register, which can be applied for at the Register’s Office/Citizen’s Centre or Trade Licencing Office.
  • Tax clearance certificate from the local tax office
  • Instruction in accordance with the Infection Protection Act (Health Office)
  • Construction plans if it’s a new building.

Every restaurant and bar employee who produces, treats or puts food on the market needs to be instructed by the public health department or a licensed physician before starting work for the first time in accordance with the Infection Protection Act.

The instruction must not be older than three months when first employed in the hospitality industry. The old health certificate remains valid. The employer must provide new instruction annually. This instruction should be documented.

The hygiene guide or folder can be purchased in the DEHOGA shop as proof of basic hygiene compliance in accordance to HACCP:

Registration of the company at the German Employer’s Liability Insurance Association for the Food and Catering Industry (BGN), Dynamostraße 7-9, 68165 Mannheim 1, (telephone: 0621 4456-0). Entrepreneurs are no longer compulsorily insured, but the employees continue to be.

The BGN must be provided with proof of safety-related supervision within 6 months of business operations. Entrepreneurs of companies with up to 10 employees can achieve this with a free distance learning course (BGN industry model). Larger companies can prove that they have private occupational health care.

Otherwise the companies are supervised by the ASD*BGN, which is subject to a fee..

What insurances do I have to take out? For example, liability insurance, property insurance, business interruption insurance, legal protection insurance, etc.

DEHOGA Berlin can recommend the following association partners:

Tel.: 0451. 160030
E-mail: info​[at]​


Signal Iduna Gruppe
Tel.: 030. 88448679


Here, you can find recommendations for "which insurance policies are suitable for the hospitality business".

Under certain circumstances, there is a threat of the assumption of liability risks for the predecessor. These should be excluded as much as possible.

According to § 613a BGB, for example, there is an obligation to take over all employees under the previous conditions (so-called transfer of operations).

To be on the safe side, you should ask the Trade Licencing Office whether – due to hygienic or safety reasons – there are any requirements for operation.

Registration with GEMA is necessary if music will be played in the restaurant (this includes radio or television). DEHOGA members receive a 20% discount. You can find rates and more information in the tariff-finder at:

Every establishment has had to pay radio license fees since 2013 – even if it doesn’t have a radio or television. (One vehicle is free of charge). Further information, registration and a fee calculator can be found at:

A price list for the most commonly ordered food and drinks must be clearly visible on the outside of the restaurant.

Anyone operating slot machines requires a special permit for this purpose (Trade Licencing Office). Slot machines are generally prohibited in restaurants in associations for youth-protection reasons.

Notices, forms, sample contracts and professional literature, which may also be ordered online, are available in the DEHOGA Shop:

Notices for the Youth Protection Act and the Employee Protection Act are obligatory. The hygiene guide, which summarises the essential requirements regarding hygiene, is important. DEHOGA Berlin members can download collective agreements applicable in Berlin as well as various sample contracts (e.g. employment contracts) from our website at:

It is recommended to enter into a lease or purchase contract for a restaurant only when it includes a provision that a licence can be obtained. Many landlords try to pass this risk on the tenants contractually, which may be very expensive. DEHOGA Berlin checks the rental contracts of its members free of charge.

A consultation with a legally trained person is normally essential prior to concluding a contract, e.g. with the Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA Berlin). A membership with DEHOGA Belin offers you many advantages, including financial aspects: these include free legal advice, representation before the Labour Court, and inexpensive business advice from our DEHOGA Berlin partner:

DIEHOGA Denkfabrik GmbH
Tel: 030. 85731720
E-mail: info​[at]​

as well as current information on a regular basis, e.g. on legal regulations. Additional benefits include discounts from various providers (e.g. GEMA, GASAG, Vattenfall), industry-related sample contracts (e.g. lease or employment contracts), collective agreements and much more. The application for membership is available at the DEHOGA Berlin office or on the internet at:

Starting in April 2016, business start-ups can take advantage of a free business consultation (initial consultation) by an expert from the association. Until then, please see point 10: DIEHOGA Denkfarbrik GmbH.

DEHOGA Berlin Seminars conduct business start-up and other relevant seminars at a good value for money; with lucrative discounts for DEHOGA Berlin members.

Anyone who would like to run or invest in a business needs strong partners. You can find our current partner list at:

DEHOGA Berlin has numerous framework agreements with merchandise suppliers and service providers where members can receive discounts. Further information can be found here:

Suitable hotels or restaurants can be found through breweries, beverage suppliers, real estate agents (yellow pages) and in the specialised press, e.g. the General Hotel and Hospitality Newspaper with a large weekly nationwide advertising section at as well as in the usual internet real-estate market portals at,

Our partner is also available to you:

QUIN Real Estate Investment GmbH
Quedlinburger Straße 47
10589 Berlin

Tel: 030. 549092540
Fax: 030. 549092549

E-mail: info​​[at]​

Professionally suited staff can be found at;;,;

The Central Placement Office for Foreign and Specialist Workers (ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency is responsible for the placement of foreign skilled workers (e.g. specialty cooks) and the implementation of the so-called labour market admission:

We strive to provide this information based on the current factual and legal situation. Any liability for damages that arise from the use of these documents is limited to wilful intent and gross negligence. Excluded from this is the liability for damage to body, life and health - for which the statutory liability regulations apply without restriction. Please regularly check that the documents you use are up-to-date and pay attention to our association notifications.

Promoting Entrepreneurial Know How

Start-ups and young entrepreneurs have a great need for advice and consultation – especially in the start-up phase. However, young companies don’t often have the financial means to hire expert consultants. This is where the programme “Promoting Entrepreneurial Know How” comes in.

In order to enable young companies to finance coaching, subsidies can be granted to cover the costs. These subsidies come from the European Social Fund (ESF) of the European Union (EU). The goal of this instrument is to increase the chances of long-term success for young companies.

You can find detailed information here

Information on Starting a Business in the Hospitality Industry

Operating a business in the hospitality industry requires a permit. As a founder of a business in this industry, we’d like to give you an initial overview of which office you should first contact and the documents you need to submit when applying for a permit.

IHK Berlin can provide you with further information.

Restaurant Permit ("License"):

You can receive the licence from the District Office in the Economics Department (“Trade Licencing Office”) in the district in which the business is located. You will need the following documents, i.a., to apply for the license:

  • certificate of conduct and information from the Central Trade Register, both for submission to a public authority (can be applied for at every Citizen’s Centre),
  • proof of participation in restaurant courses (see below for registration info),
  • purchase, rental or lease contract,
  • floorplan of the entire company on a scale of 1:100.

When taking over a business in the hospitality industry, the applicant usually receives a provisional licence valid for three months. However, if premises are going to be used which were not previously licensed, please contact the district building authority first.

The restaurant license applies to the license holder, the licenced premises and the relevant type of business. It is not transferrable. If a business is operated by several people, each of them requires a licence.

Apply for the license in a timely manner because other public authorities are involved in the licensing procedure besides the Trade Licencing Office / Office of Economic Affairs – you will have to schedule appointments with them for viewings during the licencing procedure!

If you, as an operator of a business in the hospitality industry, will come into contact with food, you will need additional instruction according to the Infection Protection Act. You can get a corresponding information flyer free of charge from the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK).

INTERHOGA Provides Information about Subsidies for Business Start-Up Consultation:

Small and medium-sized businesses as well as founders of new businesses have the possibility to take advantage of subsidies for consultation. Within the context of the federal government’s programme “Promoting Entrepreneurial Know How”, up to 2,000 € can be granted for a completed eligible consultation. The bankruptcy statistics are terrifying: In the hospitality industry, over half of all founders fail in the first five years. However: According to a survey by the BDU (Federal Association of German Management Consultants), more than 95% of the companies which have taken advantage of professional and qualified start-up consultation before starting their own businesses achieve their goals – and can secure their long-term existence with further support.

In order to ensure the required quality-standards, certain minimum requirements apply for consultations; Anyone interested can find information regarding this as well as the current funding guidelines and how to apply on the INTERHOGA website at INTERHOGA is also the coordination centre for federal trade subsidies. They check and evaluate the submitted applications and documents in regard to possible federal subsidies within the framework of the applicable funding guidelines.

Gastromat for Business Founders

Do you have any questions about operating a business in the hospitality industry – especially about the individual legal requirements which must be observed when serving food and beverages?

Using the Gastromat from IHK Berlin, founders can easily and intuitively click through all the questions they have and receive the corresponding answers.

Additional Links:

IHK Gaststättenunterrichtung (IHK – Restaurant Instruction)
Weiterbildung (Further Training)
IHK für Existenzgründer (for Business Start-Ups)

On the website of INTERHOGA, the Association for Promoting the German Hotel and Hospitality Industry mbH, you can find comprehensive information on the topic of “subsidies for business start-up consultations”.