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Government information for entrepreneurs

Serving alcohol

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

If you run a hotel or catering establishment in the Netherlands and serve alcohol, you need an alcohol licence (Licencing and Catering Act, Drank- en horecavergunning), issued by your municipal authority. Your establishment must fulfil a number of layout requirements. If you have an association or foundation that serves alcohol on a semi-commercial basis, you also need this licence. If you only serve non-alcoholic beverages, you will need a food and drink permit in some municipalities.

Staff requirements

If you serve beer, wine, port, sherry or strong drinks, your staff members must be 16 years or older. Bartenders younger than 18 years may sell alcohol, but they are not allowed to drink it. There should always be a manager in your business of at least 21 years old. They must hold an SVH Declaration of Social Hygiene (SVH Verklaring Sociale hygiëne) or a Declaration of Professional Competence (Verklaring Vakbewaamheid). You can check this in SVH's Social Hygiene RegisterExternal link (in Dutch).

If your establishment has been set up as a partnership under common firm (VOF), these requirements apply to each individual business partner. In addition, the municipal authority may ask for a completed Bibob form (background screening).

Reporting changes to your catering establishment

If there is a change in the management of your hotel or catering establishment, you must report this to the municipal authority. If there is a change in the legal structure, you must apply for a new alcohol licence under the Licencing and Catering Act. If the structure of your premises changes in such a way that it no longer fits the description in your licence, you must report this change to the municipal authority within one month.

Dispensation from Licensing and Catering Act

If you have a catering establishment and you want to sell beer, wine, port or sherry at an event, you need dispensation (article 35 Licencing and Catering Act) from the municipal authority (tapontheffing). This dispensation is valid for a maximum continuous period of 12 days. You can acquire one dispensation for the same annual event. You may need an event licence as well.

Online application procedure via Message Box

You can also apply for a licence dispensation under the Licensing and Catering Act online via Message Box. Message Box is a secure email system that enables you as an entrepreneur to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO