restaurant bureaucracy

Here’s What You Need to Know to Open a Restaurant in Austria

Austrians take food and drink seriously, so it comes as no surprise that opening a restaurant is not as easy as it sounds. Here’s how to do it.

For the gourmet in search of Vienna’s newest gastronomical offerings, it can be hard to keep up – it seems every week, there is a new restaurant, bar or trendy coffee roaster opening. Does all this activity mean gastronomy is one area where Vienna’s famous bureaucracy does not pose a major hurdle? In the city with dozens of Magistratsabteilungen (municipal departments)? Hardly.

There is a lot of planning, paperwork and quite possibly an exam involved, and that assumes you meet certain prerequisites. These include: being at least 18 years of age; having Austrian citizenship, or citizenship of another European Union or European Economic Area country or have an equal status for other foreigners, and no grounds for exclusions, such as criminal convictions.

But That’s Just the Start

The hotel and restaurant industry is a “regulated trade.” This means running a business in these sectors requires a certificate of competence. The requirements for obtaining such a certificate can be found in the Gastgewerbeverordnung (Hotel and Catering Industry Ordinance) on the WKO, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, website.

No certificate of competence is required for certain types of catering, referred to as “free trades.” These include, for example, serving simple meals (e.g. bread and sandwiches) and nonalcoholic beverages and beer in commercially available closed containers (bottles and cans), to no more than eight guests.

One of the material prerequisites is approval of the operating facilities, which must be obtained before opening. Depending on the location, other regulations may apply, for instance, building regulations or zoning.

The registration of the operation must be submitted to the competent local trade authority.

The business registration must include personal data: name, place of birth, place of residence, nationality, as well as the exact description of the business and its location.

Different documents are required depending on whether the business is registered as a sole proprietorship or a company. If you have resided in Austria for less than five years, a criminal record certificate from your country of origin or previous country of residence is required.

Sound confusing? It is. You might want to consult a lawyer or the WKO to help you navigate the bureaucracy.

Once you have fulfilled all the legal requirements and submitted the required documents, nothing more stands in the way of flinging open your doors to those in search of Vienna’s best new place to eat and drink well.

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