How to Start a Cafe, a Restaurant or a Hotel in the Netherlands (Guide)

If you plan to open a cafe, a restaurant or a hotel in Holland, there are numerous regulations and rules you have to comply with. This guide will help you to determine quickly the scope of your obligations.

The present plan is only a guideline. There might be other relevant obligations not mentioned here. Please, contact us, if you need further information.

Check if you meet the requirements for a long-term stay in Holland

Entrepreneurs planning to stay for long periods need to meet a list of conditions. Sometimes a permit for residence is necessary.

Choose your office and check the plan for local zoning

Your registered office should conform to the plan for zoning in the particular area. Alternatively, you can ask the authorities to make an exception or ask the municipality to alter the plan for zoning.

Submit an application for a permit to build

In case you plan to build, renovate or modify an existing construction, you will probably need to apply for an Omgevingsvergunning (a comprehensive permit to change physical aspects). In the past, this document was simply called a permit for building.

Consider the requirements for fire safety

To guarantee that the catering establishment is safe with respect to fire, you will most likely need a permit for occupancy (included in the Omgevingsvergunning). In particular cases, however, an occupancy notification may be sufficient.

Consider the rules for the protection of the environment

All owners of catering businesses need to respect various environmental guidelines. Most often filing an application for an Omgevingsvergunning is unnecessary. It is sufficient to register your company at the local municipality.

Submit an application for a permit to operate a catering company

Some municipalities require operating permits for catering businesses. The requirements are connected to decency, safety and public order.

Register your business with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA)

In case your company produces, sells or processes food products, a registration at the NVWA is necessary.

Prepare or acquire an approved hygiene code

Drink and food preparation needs to be in line with a code on hygiene. You can prepare such a code yourself or use an already certified document (e.g. of the Board of the Catering and Hotel Industry). Hygiene codes need to follow the European Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. The compliance to a hygiene code approved for the sector automatically fulfils all legal requirements.

Submit an application for a licence that allows you to serve non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages

In case you plan to sell or offer alcoholic beverages for consumption in your business, you need to obtain a licence for alcohol from the local municipality (under the Catering and Licensing Act). A drink and food permit is sufficient for selling non-alcoholic drinks.

Obtain a permit for running a terrace

If you plan to service a terrace in public space or private property, you will most likely need a permit issued by the municipality. Terraces are permitted only as parts of existing hotels and catering establishments.

Obtain a permit for gaming machines

If you plan to install a gambling machine in the catering establishment, you need to apply for a specific permit at the local municipality.

Submit an application for music licences

You have to obtain a special permission for playing music in public. Sena and Buma regulate the permission and issue licences.

Identify potential sources of risks and assess them

If you plan to employ personnel, you need to draft the so-called risk inventory, complete with risk evaluation (RI&E) prior to opening your catering establishment. The catering and hotel (Horeca) RI&E model fits this purpose.

Register at the Dutch Trade Registry and Tax Administration

All new businesses need to be registered at the Commercial Registry of the Netherlands. Your details will be passed on to the tax authorities. Therefore you do not have to go through a separate registration procedure with the Tax Administration.

Our local incorporation agents can help you in the process of establishing a hotel, restaurant or bar. Please do not hesitate to contact us.


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