Off all the licensed businesses in Ireland licensing for restaurants is typically the most straight forward. Firstly to open and operate a restaurant a business does not need a licence. It must firstly register the business with the local health office of the Health Service Executive and seek confirmation in writing of the registration. This written confirmation of registration is an important document and it will be needed for various other applications connected with the business and particularly if the business is being sold.

To serve alcohol to customers, the business will need to be properly licensed. Firstly a restaurant owner can apply directly to the National Excise Licence Office for a Wine Retailers on Licence. This is a procedural exercise involving the completion of the application form and Requisition form together with the payment of the application fee (currently €500.00). The applicant will also need to furnish an up to date tax clearance certificate. The National office then notify the Gardai and, if no objections are received from the Gardai, it will issue the licence. This process itself can take up to two months.

As the name suggests, the Wine Retailers On Licence permits the sale of wine only for consumption with food. It does not permit the sale of any other alcoholic products. A restaurant business wishing to sell other beverages then has two options.

For the right to sell beer in addition to wine in a restaurant, the business must firstly apply for and obtain a Restaurant Certificate. This is a certificate granted by the District Court certifying the premises itself as a restaurant under the Licensing Acts and thereby authorised to sell beer. The certificate can only attach to an existing licence and cannot be obtained on its own. In other words the restaurant must have as a minimum a Wine Retailer’s on Licence. The Certificate is renewed annually, typically in September and an application must be made to the Court on notice to the local Gardai for its renewal.

Alternatively a restaurant business may apply for a Special Restaurant Licence. This Licence will permit the sale of wine, beer, cider and spirits at the restaurant. The application for a Special Restaurant Licence also involves an application to Court to approve the premises as suitable and there are certain other matters which should be in order e.g. the premises should be fire safe. The licence is also renewed annually.

At Abacus Legal we have acted for numerous restaurants in Dublin and nationwide in advising on their licensing strategy and assisting with applications for all types of Licences including certificates, late night exemptions and music & singing and dance licences. We have secured Restaurant Certificates and Special Restaurant Licences for many businesses. Our skill and expertise will ensure a stress free experience. Our costs are transparent and our service is personable. Where possible we agree all fees in advance.

Martin Moloney