Licences, registrations and permits


In this post I want to talk about licences, registrations and permits you might need for your restaurant or café business. Let me just be clear though, this is just general advice as laws and requirements will vary between states in Australia. Make sure you do your own research and if you’re new to the industry speak with other restaurant owners to get their advice. Oversight on one small thing when it comes to licencing and registration could be the different between being able to open your doors to the public or not.

When I was starting out in the industry, dealing with licencing and registration requirements were a headache but now I have the process down pat. There are so many variations depending on how you’ll run and operate your restaurant. Consider some of the questions below:

  • Will you serve alcohol?
  • Will you play background music?
  • Will you hire apprentices or trainees?
  • Will you employ staff or contractors?
  • Will you advertise or promote your business?
  • Will you be open for service on public holidays?

These are just a few of the extensive list of questions provided on the Australian Business Licence and Information Services website (link will be provided below).

So let’s get back to some of the licences and registrations you might need. Below is a list that I’ve had for my restaurants, not all of my restaurants have the exactly the same licences and registrations due to differing Australian State regulations and for various other reasons.

  1. Australia Wide | You’ll need to register your business name if you’re intending to run a business in Australia (and if you’re opening a restaurant you’re definitely planning on running a business). Chose a business name and get yourself on the Australian Business Names Register
  2. State Specific | You’ll need to apply for a Restaurant and Café Licence from your State Government. In order to apply for this you’ll already need to have completed Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training and have your Business Name certificate.
  3. State Specific |You’ll need a Registration of Fixed Food Premises to be able to operate a food business from a fixed address. Generally, these are obtained from your local council but this may vary depending on state.
  4. Australia Wide | If you’re planning on playing copyrighted music in your restaurant then you’ll need a Background Music Licence which can be obtained from the Australian Government’s Revenue and Licencing Department.
  5. Australia Wide | This falls under staffing as well as licencing and registration. If you hire employees or contractors, you are required to pay superannuation contributions. The ATO has a heap of info on this topic, you can find a link in this blog post here.
  6. Australia Wide | Again, if you’re hiring staff, you’ll need to withhold tax and pass on to the ATO which means you’ll need to register as a PAYG withholder.
  7. Australia Wide | You’ll also need a liquor licence if you plan on serving alcohol at your restaurant.

As well as needing the above registrations, you’ll also need to comply with Codes of Practice like:

  • The Food Standards Code
  • National Employment Standards
  • Privacy Rule 2015
  • Workplace Gender Equality

Going through this process as a first timer is definitely daunting but don’t let that stop you. There are plenty of helpful websites and blogs full of information and support tips to get you through this. I’ve found the Australian Business Licence and Information Service’s website to be extremely helpful over the years so be sure to check that out or leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have.