Food businesses

Food import, processing or trade Restaurant, café or catering

A food business is anyone preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying or selling food. Setting up a food business is quite complex as there are numerous mandatory rules. A lot of the relevant legal provisions relate to food safety, food hygiene, food labelling and the company’s operational self-monitoring. Apart from that there are specific requirements for commercial premises in which food is processed or stored.

On this webpage you will find important basic information concerning framework conditions, hints and contact points. This information is intended to provide an initial orientation to those with limited German proficiency. It does not claim to be a full and exhaustive treatment of all legal aspects. We would like to point out that most of the subsequent links to websites, documents and forms are generally not available in languages other than German.

We offer English language resources and a step-by-step guide for citizens who want to start a business in Munich. Visit our media center and learn more about startup formalities, choice of legal form, tax overview, private and operational security, subsidies and financial aids or coaching-programs.

Do I need a permit, an approval or a license?

These will vary depending on your product and the type of business or establishment you operate. Read below to determine what kind of establishment you have and what requirements you need to meet before you start your food business:

Choosing the right premises: planning permission and building regulations

The first consideration should be whether the premises you are intending to set up your food business in have the correct planning permission and building regulations approval.

Building regulations for commercial premises: You need to deal with building regulations not only when constructing a new building or expanding an existing workspace but also when modifying rooms within a building. And furthermore, building regulations may also be relevant when merely renting premises for your business, depending on the intended use. If you wish to use rooms that were previously used for other purposes than your future business facility, you will need to apply for a change of use. Inquire about any parking requirements, too.

All of this must be coordinated in good time with the Local Building Commission [Lokalbaukomission LBK]. We strongly recommend clarifying building regulations prior to signing any contracts such as a commercial lease agreement, a loan agreement or other legally binding documents.

If you plan to use your kitchen or a storage room at home for commercial purposes, please clarify beforehand with the LBK and the owner if that is permitted – in most cases it is not. And be aware that all building regulations for commercial premises and food regulations such food hygiene do apply fully. Besides You need to ensure that family use of the kitchen for instance by children, pets or other people, is separate from business use. it is very difficult to achieve the standards of hygiene required by law in a domestic kitchen including proper storage.

Sharing commercial space such as a commercial kitchen with a restaurant, café or canteen in the off hours might be a good option. Ask your network, contact potential partners  or have a look online for example at Munich Startup’s room pinboard and read their interview with a Munich startup connecting people offering and people in need of commercial space.

For regulations on food safety please see the section below.

Food hygiene: courses, permits and other requirements

Meals must not pose a risk to health and must be of flawless quality. Personal and hand hygiene, correct handling of food and cleanliness in the kitchen and in the entire company are vital. Learn more about basic hygiene rules in this English language overview (PDF, 249 KB) issued by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.

Health instruction certificate from the Public Health Office
[Belehrungen nach §43 Infektionsschutzgesetz]

Clearance certificate from the Public Health Office [Gesundheitsamt] of undergone a one-hour online course for the food business in accordance with § 43 Para. 1 of the German Infection Protection Act (IfSG), the so called „Erstbelehrung bei gewerbsmäßigem Umgang mit Lebensmitteln“ (= Belehrungen nach §43 Infektionsschutzgesetz). The online course is available in German and English. Optional subtitles are offered for Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish or Ukrainian languages. A fee of 25 Euro is charged when you register for the course. Please note that the certificate (PDF, 76 KB) must not be older than three months when registering your business. Make sure your staff have attended the initial course and follow the refresher trainings on a two year basis, too.

Food hygiene training certificate
[Lebensmittelhygieneschulung nach § 4 LMHV]

Are you going to handle easily perishable food such as meat, sausage, fish including crustaceans, shellfish and mollusks, raw egg foods, mayonnaise products, sensitive salads, raw milk, dairy products, cakes with whipped cream, bakery products with unbaked or unheated filling or topping, raw vegetable salad, fruit salad or sprouts? Then you are required to attend a one-day course in accordance with the § 4 of the Ordinance on the Hygiene Requirements for the Production, Handling and Placing on the Market of Foods [Lebensmittelhygieneschulung nach § 4 LMHV]. Courses are offered nationwide by various authorized trainers. Check with your desired trainer for dates, fees and language options. The local IHK affiliate, the IHK Akademie München, conducts an in-person course in Munich but expects a good level of German. Make sure your staff have attended the initial course and follow the refresher trainings on an annual basis, too.

Additional registration at the local food control authority
[Registrierung von Lebensmittelunternehmen]

Food businesses need to be registered at the local food control authority [Lebensmittelüberwachung]. In Munich the Trade Office [Gewerbeamt] will pass through the information to this authority once you have done your business registration [Gewerbeanmeldung]. Therefore no separate registrations are necessary.

Recordkeeping and self-monitoring
[Betriebliche Eigenkontrolle]

All food business operators are required to establish, maintain, and make available to municipal food inspectors upon request certain records that will allow them to identify all food products handled by their business and that Good Manufacturing Practice regulations are followed to produce food under safe and sanitary conditions. This includes an accurate and complete food traceability. The self-monitoring plan [Betriebliche Eigenkontrolle] enables you to ensure the safety of customers and personnel and to comply with statutory guidelines. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is such a self-control system based on a risk analysis.

Allergen information
[Kennzeichnung von Allergenen und Zusatzstoffen]

You must provide allergen information to consumers and handle and manage food allergens adequately in your business. To find out more please download the municipal food inspector’s information (PDF, 127 KB).

Online Portal: Help for food hygiene

The IHK Online Portal: Help for Food Hygiene is available in English, Chinese (Mandarin) and Turkish. It offers a quick and up-to-date overview of all the important food hygiene topics, including tips and free checklists available for download.

Restaurant business: opening a café, restaurant or snack bar serving alcohol

Are planning to prepare food and serve liquor, wine or beer to customers?

You will need to apply for a gastronomy trade license [Gaststättenerlaubnis (=Konzession)] at the local authority “Bezirksinspektion”. Costs vary between 100 Euro and 6,000 Euro depending on the specific size, location and type such as café, restaurant, snack bar of the business. To find out which of the Bezirksinspektion offices is competent for you: scroll down this page until header “Ermitteln der für Sie zuständigen Stelle” and enter the street address of your premises into the entry field. For general questions concerning regulations for restaurant business you may contact the City’s Department of Public Order (KVR, short for Kreisverwaltungsreferat) by phone 089 233-24659 or by e-mail gaststaetten.kvr@muenchen.de

Prerequisites and documents required along with the application (PDF, 259 KB):

Restaurant business: opening a café, restaurant or snack bar

From snack bars and cafés to bistros and restaurants, start-ups in the gastronomy sector are very popular. A well thought-out concept, solid financing, and motivated staff are key to success.

There are a lot of legal framework conditions that need to be considered such as doing business in public spaces, opening hours, the protection of minors, toilets, noise control and smoking regulations, GEMA (the organization which regulates music usage rights in Germany), media license fees, grease traps, and disposing of kitchen waste. Please have a look at our more detailed founding information for restaurant business [German] using a translation tool of your choice.

For general questions concerning regulations for restaurant business you may contact the City’s Department of Public Order (KVR, short for Kreisverwaltungsreferat) by phone 089 233-24659 or by e-mail gaststaetten.kvr@muenchen.de

For questions concerning running a food business at a specific address or place in Munich, you may contact the Licenses and Consumer Services inspectors office [Bezirksinspektion] that is assigned to this area of the city. The Bezirksinspektion is part of the Department of the Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat or KVR) and has five office locations within the City of Munich. To find out which of the Bezirksinspektion offices is competent for you: scroll down this page until header “Ermitteln der für Sie zuständigen Stelle” and enter the street address of your premises into the entry field.

Mobile traders: Snack vans, food trucks, coffee bikes and more

Contact the City’s Department of Public Order (KVR, short for Kreisverwaltungsreferat) by e-mail gaststaetten.kvr@muenchen.de for information and advice. Please have a look at our more detailed founding information for mobile catering offerings [German] using a translation tool of your choice.

Possible sales locations for a mobile food business:

  • Public ground such as roads, sidewalks, places and pedestrian zones
    According to the City of Munich’s special regulation § 20 Abs. 6 Sondernutzungsrichtlinien it is not allowed to park snack vans, food trucks, coffee bikes and other vehicles on public ground. Such mobile stalls may generally only be positioned on private property. There are a few exceptions such as organized events like street festivals or fairs that are taking place on public ground and do include mobile stalls.
  • Private property such as company premises
    An approval of the property owner is necessary as well as toilet access, power connection, water and wastewater connection. Examples are supermarket or company parking spaces or other private grounds.
  • Festivals, fairs and sports events
    Apply directly to the organizer of the event. Information on municipal markets and festivals is available here.

Important: If you plan to use a specific sales location for more than 3 months or use it long-term on a regular basis like once a week, you have to apply for a building permit from the Local Building Commission [Lokalbaukomission LBK].

For general questions concerning regulations for restaurant business you may contact the City’s Department of Public Order (KVR, short for Kreisverwaltungsreferat) by phone 089 233-24659 or by e-mail gaststaetten.kvr@muenchen.de

For questions concerning running a food business at a specific address or place in Munich, you may contact the Licenses and Consumer Services inspectors office [Bezirksinspektion] that is assigned to this area of the city. The Bezirksinspektion is part of the Department of the Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat or KVR) and has five office locations within the City of Munich. To find out which of the Bezirksinspektion offices is competent for you: scroll down this page until header “Ermitteln der für Sie zuständigen Stelle” and enter the street address of your premises into the entry field.

Outdoor seating area [Freischankflächen]

Are you planning to have tables and seating areas outside on the pavement or on public ground? For questions on these “Freischankflächen” you need a special use permit. Apply for it at the Licenses and Consumer Services inspectors office [Bezirksinspektion] that is assigned to this area of the city. To find out which of the Bezirksinspektion offices is competent for you: scroll down this page until header “Ermitteln der für Sie zuständigen Stelle” and enter the street address of your premises into the entry field. Please note that the processing of your application may take up to three months.

Adding food or beverages for consumption to an existing business?

Are you already running a business and are planning to add food or beverages for consumption on your premises to your services? Contact your Licenses and Consumer Services inspectors office [Bezirksinspektion] to learn more. To find out which of the Bezirksinspektion offices is competent for you: scroll down this page until header “Ermitteln der für Sie zuständigen Stelle” and enter the street address of your premises into the entry field.

Are you planning to produce self-made bakery products?

As craft-trade regulations may play a role it might be necessary to engage a master craftsman. Contact the Chamber of Skilled Crafts [Handwerkskammer, HWK] in advance in order to find out whether your business requires a permit and which preconditions you have to fulfil.

Food import, retailers, online retailers

Food Imports

Food imported into Germany must meet the same laws and regulations as food produced in the Germany. It must be safe and contain no prohibited ingredients, and all labeling and packaging must be informative and truthful, with the labeling information in German. Consider people with food allergies and have an appropriate warning on your label. Specific restrictions apply for food supplements, novel food, functional and diectic food or genetically modified food and feed. Please direct any questions on labeling and importing to the experts at the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry [IHK, short for Industrie- und Handelskammer].

Retailers

These include small convenience stores, “corner shops” and confectioners, tobacconists and newsagents. Please verify if the premises you are intending to set up your shop in have the correct planning permission and building regulations approval. Please have a look at our information around building regulations.

In terms of food safety, it depends on if you are offering pre-packaged food ready for sale to the customer or if you are going to have a hot or cold food deli counter, too. For regulations on food safety please see the section above.

Online food retailers

Are you planning to selling food online? Basically the same rules that apply to the supermarket around the corner also apply to online food shops. Your products must be safe and contain no prohibited ingredients, and all labeling and packaging must be informative and truthful, with the labeling information in German. Consider people with food allergies and have an appropriate warning on your label. Specific restrictions apply for food supplements, novel food, functional and diectic food or genetically modified food and feed.

Please verify if the premises you are intending to set up your storage room in have the correct planning permission and building regulations approval.

Please have a look at our information around building regulations.

If you plan to use a storage room at home for commercial purposes, please clarify beforehand with the Local Building Commission [Lokalbaukomission LBK] and the owner if that is permitted – in most cases it is not. And be aware that all building regulations for commercial premises and food regulations such food hygiene do apply fully. This includes proper storage of cold and dry food, traceability and pest control. For regulations on food safety please see the section above.

Make sure you are shipping your food products safely and meeting the requirements of your shipping supplier. Read our overview of online retailing [German] using a translation tool of your choice and doing business on an international level. Please direct any questions on labeling and e-commerce to the experts at the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry [IHK, short for Industrie- und Handelskammer].

The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety has published an extensive list of FAQs for food importers and retailers.

Industry specific advice and coaching

Industry associations can be a valuable contact for entrepreneurs in terms of information and feedback. DEHOGA (Deutscher Hotel- und Gaststattenverband) is the Bavarian Assciation of the Catering and Hotel Sector and offers (pre-)start-up business consulting.

(Pre-)start-up business consulting may be eligible for the „Vorgründungs-Coaching“ support program which grants subsidies of 50 to 70% for management consulting. Apllications are handled by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Nürnberg.