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Starting a Food Service Business : Cafe/Restaurant

Competent Authority

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is the competent authority for regulating food businesses in Ireland.

Application Process

The Health Service Executive (HSE) inspects businesses like restaurants, delis, retailers, mobile food businesses and food stalls and some manufacturing premises, including microbreweries.

When opening a food service business in Ireland, you are required to notify the HSE of the establishment. You are also required to notify the HSE if you are taking over or making a change to an existing food business.

This process can now be done online- by registering with the HSE Environmental Health Service Online and submitting details of your establishment.

A business operator simply needs to compete the details online and submit to HSE. Once submitted the application will be assessed and, provided details are correct, a confirmation that the business has been entered on the Register of Food Businesses will issue.

Products of Animal Origin

Businesses dealing with processing products of animal origin for distribution to other businesses are required to seek approval before commencing business. This process is more complex and requires the HSE to carry out an inspection of the premises and systems prior to issuing the approval. As the approval can only be issued upon meeting all requirements, this process can take some time. We advise potential operators of such businesses to make contact with their local HSE Environmental Health Office in the early stages of business planning (i.e. once a premises is secured, and draft business plan /food safety management system compiled).

Serving Alcohol

If you intend serving alcohol in a café/restaurant, you are required to hold a Special Restaurant Licence or a Wine Retailers On Licence from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. Further information on this process is available through this link: Alcohol licence for a cafe/restaurant

Temporary and Occasional Services

Temporary and Occasional service providers should notify the local HSE Environmental Health office closest to where the food stall is normally kept or where they intend to provide a service. This can be done online. One notification per stall/outlet is sufficient and once notified, the operator can trade in any area, providing casual trading law permits.

Delivery vans, i.e. those belonging to or operating for manufactures/distributors, trading cross border are not required to notify.


There is no cost to notifying a food business.

Processing Times

Notification of confirmation that the business has been entered on the Register of Food Businesses generally only takes 3-5 days, provided all details are correct. The HSE generally do not have to approve (inspect) a business prior to placing it on the Register.  

These processing time do not relate to businesses that process products of animal origin for distribution to other businesses as they are subject to additional inspections before commencement of work. Due to this the processing times can vary.

Further Information

Regulation 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs

Food Safety Authority of Ireland: Starting a business

Food Legislation FSAI links

Supporting SMEs online tool - financial and information supports

Local Authorities Ireland - Information on tourism supports, fire safety, business rates and planning.

Food Safety Authority Ireland - Food safety specific information supports and training.

Starting a Food Business Factsheet - FSAI 2017

Contact Details

Email: foodbusinessnotification@hse.ie

Find contact details for your local HSE office 

The above is for general information purposes only. All further queries regarding this information should be directed to your local HSE office.

Last update: 16 April 2020