Licenses Required to Start a Restaurant

When starting a restaurant, it is important to make sure you obtain all of the required permits and licenses. Without the proper licenses in place, you may face fines and penalties, or even have your business shut down. There are several licenses you will need when starting a restaurant. Some are the typical licenses that are needed to start any business, while others are specific to starting a restaurant.

Building Permits

If you will be doing any construction on your restaurant site in preparation for opening day, you will need to obtain the proper building permits. Building permits are typically issued by a city or town. When you apply for the building permit, you will have to detail the exact type of construction that will take place. Many jurisdictions mandate that you provide a blueprint or graphical rendering of the changes that you will be making. Before starting construction work of any kind, it is very important to check with your local officials to see if the work involved requires a building permit. Building codes vary greatly from town to town. Some towns allow simple projects such as erecting a non-load bearing wall to be done without a permit. Other towns require a permit for even the most minor projects.

Business License

A business license is usually issued by the town or city in which you are doing business. A business license gives you the right to conduct business in the jurisdiction. The application for the business license will ask for the name of the business, the address, the names of the owners and the type of business that will be operated.

Employer Identification Numbers

An employer identification number, or EIN, is the business equivalent of a Social Security Number. You will need to obtain both a state employer identification number and a federal employer identification number. The state employer identification number is issued by your state government. The state EIN is used to track your state taxes, payroll tax withholding and state unemployment insurance. The federal employer identification number is issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The federal EIN is used to track your federal taxes and all other dealings with the IRS.

Food Service License

In most jurisdictions, restaurants are required to obtain a food service license. Food service licenses are typically issued by the county government. After you apply for a food service license, the county health department will visit your establishment to make sure you are following all food service safety regulations. Keep in mind that the health department will continue to inspect your restaurant on a regular basis. If you fail an inspection, you will need to quickly remedy the problem or face losing your food service license.

Liquor License

If you plan on serving liquor of any kind at your restaurant you will need to get a liquor license. Depending on the jurisdiction, liquor licenses may be issued by the city, county or state government. Due to the fact that background checks on the business owners are typically conducted during the licensing process, it can take a fairly long amount of time to obtain a liquor license. As a result, make sure to apply for your liquor license well in advance of your opening day.