A traditional Dutch menu includes fish, meat or Dutch sausages accompanied by potatoes and other vegetables and maybe something light for dessert. The Dutch cuisine, however, has been heavily influenced by non-natives and by immigrants from former Dutch colonies. With so many tourists coming to visit the Netherlands every year, the tourism sector, especially the restaurant sector, can satisfy any taste in food.
If you are a foreign investor looking to open a restaurant in Amsterdam or another Dutch city, our company formation agents can give you complete details about the legal requirements for starting such an establishment.
We can also guide through the entire Dutch company formation procedure when starting a restaurant business here.
Table of Contents
Types of food establishments which can be set up in the Netherlands
Those who want to open food establishments in the Netherlands can set up various types of businesses which must comply with the same regulations as restaurants. Among these are also catering business, cafes, and bistros. Hotels can also operate restaurants on their premises.
Our company formation experts in the Netherlands can help foreigners interested in opening any of the food establishments mentioned above.
When it comes to the documents related to opening a business in the Netherlands, the papers must be drafted and filed in Dutch. You must make sure that every document is authenticated and has the most recent information about your business. In the local business world, it is frequently necessary to consult an experienced specialist, which you can find with our company.
Requirements for starting a restaurant in the Netherlands
For opening a restaurant or other type of establishment that serves food, you must obtain special approvals from the relevant Dutch authorities. The Dutch rules and regulations regarding transporting, preparing and processing food and drink are based on the applicable European legislation. Dutch restaurant owners must observe the hygiene code as described by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.
Any restaurant or company in the Netherlands that deals with foodstuffs needs to observe the statutory regulations of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system (HACCP). This system provides valuable indications, as of how food business operators should handle food and produce it so that it is safe to be eaten.
You can find out more information on how to set up a restaurant in the Netherlands from our video below:
Steps for opening a Dutch restaurant
After making sure that the restaurant processes food in a legally acceptable and sanitary way, restaurant owners can choose the site for their new restaurant. When purchasing a house or building a new one, investors must make sure that they have the building and renovation permit (the All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects). Our company formation agents in the Netherlands can help you open a Dutch company.
A special license is needed if the establishment will serve alcoholic beverages and if the owner intends to establish a terrace or provide gaming machines within the unit. Considering a large number of Dutch restaurants serving food on terraces, it should be taken into account that a terrace permit is necessary in this case. Restaurants in the Netherlands should also consider the new regulations related to banning order for smoking in closed spaces.
When hiring staff for their establishment, restaurant owners must prepare a risk inventory and an evaluation plan.
Licenses for operating a restaurant in the Netherlands
The licensing requirements which apply when opening a restaurant in the Netherlands are quite extensive because these establishments can be created to offer various services and sell several types of products.
One or more of the following licenses need to be obtained when setting up a Dutch restaurant:
- the food license is mandatory, as the restaurant will serve various dishes;
- the drink permit is required for selling non-alcoholic drinks in a restaurant in the Netherlands;
- the alcohol license is not mandatory, as the business owner can decide the types of drinks the business will serve, however, most restaurants serve wine;
- the terrace permit is necessary when the restaurant has a terrace on which food is served;
- a music license is also required if the company offers such services or organizes events;
- restaurants in the Netherlands can also have gaming machines installed, case in which they will need a license.
Other licenses can also be required, depending on the products to be sold. For example, for selling tobacco, a permit for this purpose must be obtained.
Design requirements for restaurants in the Netherlands
No matter the type of establishment one decides to open in the Netherlands, the Establishments Layout Requirements Act must be respected. This law provides for the spaces required to cook, store and serve foods.
Among these requirements are:
- – the kitchen must be separate from the place where the food is served;
- – the premises must also have at least 2 toilets which have handwashing facilities;
- – an air ventilation system which leads outside the building must be connected to the kitchen;
- – the building must be connected to an electrical system and have a telephone;
- – the building must be connected to a proper water supply line.
The restaurant must also comply with the regulations which require noise levels to be respected.
Our company registration consultants in the Netherlands can offer detailed information on the regulations to be respected when setting up a restaurant.
Staffing requirements for restaurants in the Netherlands
No matter the type of food establishment one decides to open in the Netherlands, the regulations imposed on the personnel working on the premises are the same.
Restaurants selling alcoholic drinks are required to hire only persons who are at least 16 years old. Also, the entire personnel of the restaurant must have completed specific courses and prove they are acquainted with the food safety and hygiene regulations imposed at a national level. The workers must have declarations of social hygiene or of professional competence.
With respect to the manager of the business, he or she must be at least 21 years old. In case the restaurant is set up as an association, all the business partners are subject to this requirement.
Other aspects to consider when opening a Dutch restaurant
Foreign citizens who want to open restaurants in the Netherlands must consider the fact that they will need to apply for residence permits in order to relocate here. Foreign managers instead, will need work permits in order to be employed in the Netherlands.
The fire safety related to owning a business must also be considered when opening a Dutch restaurant and for this purpose, the owners will need to have the premises inspected by the local police department which will issue the fire safety certificate.
Another aspect to be considered is the environmental regulations related to the disposal of waste, especially cooking oil which must be collected and deposited in special recipients before being disposed of.
The restaurant must also register with the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority. This requirement is mandatory for all companies selling food and drinks in the Netherlands. The authority will approve the company’s hygiene plan.
Why open a restaurant in the Netherlands?
If you are interested in opening a restaurant in the Netherlands, you should know that this sector has been registering an increase in incomes in the last 3 years, as the number of Dutch citizens choosing to dine out has also grown. Below are some facts about restaurant business in the Netherlands.
According to a recent report issued by Euromonitor, the restaurant business sector in the Netherlands was one of the most prolific economic segments in 2015 and 2016. The expansion of this industry started picking up in 2014 and continued in the next two years. According to Euromonitor, there were two main factors contributing to the development of the food sector which included full-service restaurants, catering businesses, and self-service food establishments: the steady economic growth the Netherlands registered and the higher consumer confidence.
Another report issued by one of the largest international magazines reported the Dutch restaurant sector registered the highest growth in the trade, hotels and restaurants industry, with a 7% annual increase between 2015 and 2016.
Opening a restaurant in the Netherlands can be a lengthy procedure if the legislation is not respected, which is why foreign investors can rely on our consultants for full information on these norms. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the company incorporation procedure or about investing in the Netherlands.