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If you intend to start a hotel, restaurant or cafe in the Netherlands, you must contend with various government rules and regulations. You can use this guide to quickly determine which obligations you must fulfil.
The plan serves merely as a guideline. You may need to fulfil other obligations as well. For further information, contact your municipality, the Chamber of Commerce (KVK) (Dutch) or the Royal Dutch Hotel and Catering Association (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, KHN) (Dutch).
1. Check whether you fulfil the conditions for staying in the Netherlands
Entrepreneurs who intend to stay in the Netherlands must fulfil a number of conditions. You will sometimes also require a residence permit.
2. Choose your business premises and inspect the local zoning plan
Your business premises must be in line with the zoning plan for that specific area. If this is not the case, however, you can apply for a dispensation. You could also ask the municipality to change the zoning plan.
3. Apply for a building permit
If you want to build, make alterations to or renovate a building, you will normally need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). This used to be called a building permit.
4. Consider fire safety requirements
In order to ensure fire safety in your catering establishment, you often need an occupancy permit (part of the All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects, omgevingsvergunning). In some cases, a notification of occupancy will suffice.
5. Consider environmental rules
Catering business owners must contend with a range of environmental guidelines. In most cases it is not necessary to apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). Registering your company with your local municipality is sufficient.
6. Apply for an operating permit for a catering business
In certain municipalities you may need an operating permit for a catering establishment. The conditions address public order, safety and decency.
7. Register your food business with NVWA
If your company manufactures, processes or sells food products, you must register your business with NVWA.
8. Draw up a hygiene code or use an approved one
If you prepare food and drink, you must work according to a hygiene code. You can draw up one yourself or comply with a certified hygiene code (e.g. the code of the Hotel and Catering Industry Board). All hygiene codes must be based on the European HACCP principles. If you work in accordance with an approved hygiene code for your sector, you automatically fulfil the legal requirements.
9. Apply for a licence to serve alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages
If alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed in your catering business, you must have an alcohol licence from your local municipality (Licensing and Catering Act). To sell non-alcoholic beverages, you need a food and drink permit.
10. Apply for a terrace permit
If you intend to run a terrace on your private property or in a public space, you often need a terrace permit from the municipality. A terrace is only permitted as part of an existing hotel and catering establishment.
11. Apply for a gaming machine permit
You need a gaming machine permit from your local municipality to install a game-of-chance machine in your catering establishment.
12. Apply for music performance licences
You need permission to play music in a public place. Buma and Sena regulate this permission by issuing licences.
13. Draw up a risk inventory and evaluation
If you employ staff, you must draw up a risk inventory and evaluation (RIE) before you open your catering business. You can use the hotel and catering RIE (Horeca RIE) model for this purpose.
14. Register with the Dutch Business Register and Dutch Tax Administration
New businesses must be registered with the Dutch Business Register. They will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You therefore do not need to register separately with them.