9 Permits and Certificates Needed When Opening A Restaurant In Sydney, NSW

9 Permits and Certificates Needed When Opening A Restaurant In Sydney, NSW

This article talks about the necessary approvals and registrations needed when establishing a restaurant in Sydney, NSW

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Opening a new restaurant is no easy task. Besides having to plan your menu, getting the right location, and hiring your staff, you also have to take care of the business’ legal matters.  The restaurant industry is highly regulated, with several local, state and federal regulations in place. In Sydney, the permits needed may differ depending on the kind of restaurant you run. To make sure that your new restaurant is off to a good start, find out exactly what permits and certifications it needs to operate. Here are 9 permits you should know before opening a restaurant in Sydney.

1. New Premises Registration

This is perhaps the easiest and simplest form you can manage before opening your restaurant. Submit a new premises registration and change of existing registration form to officially list your business in the council’s records. Operating a food business without this certificate  is an offense. Therefore, all businesses are required to have it.

The form will ask details about your business’ premises and proprietorship together with your declaration as a registering applicant. After printing and filling out the 3-page application form yourself, you can submit it to the City Council (Town Hall House, Level 2, 456 Kent Street, Sydney 2000). You can also ask contact reach the council at 02 9265 9333 or council@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au if you have further concerns about your application.

You can access the form and read about further instructions here.

2. Development Application

A development application is a formal request to build or modify your business site. Most of the developments in Sydney require approval. Before applying for this permit, you would first have to prepare your development application. You will have to align the site’s characteristics with the planning controls applied to it. This ensures proper management of land use in the city by encouraging positive change while protecting the characteristics that make the site beautiful. You will also have to list down specialists needed for building your restaurant site, such as architects, engineers, or land surveyors. It is recommended that you consult with a duty planner before submitting your application.

After preparing your application, you can now lodge it via the NSW Planning Portal. Note that they will not be accepting applications through e-mail or post. Make sure that you have provided them with the required information to save time and money. It usually takes approximately 2 days for them to review your application, but this may still vary. When the application is ready to proceed, payment will be requested. The application will only be lodged once the payment is received. After submitting the application, assessment will follow. In some cases, your proposal will be placed in an exhibition where the public may comment. If needed, the site may also be visited by the authorities. Three outcomes are possible for an application: 1) Development consent granted, with possible conditions; 2) Refusal with reasons; 3) Deferred commencement consent (wherein one or more issues must be addressed before consent is granted, however a rare outcome).

Learn more about the development application here.

3. Australian Business Number Registration

If you are operating a business, organization, or enterprise in Australia, you may require an Australian Business Number or ABN. It is a single identifier for all business dealings with the Australian Taxation Office and other government departments and agencies. While this is not compulsory, having an ABN has its benefits. This includes being able to register for Goods and Services Tax (GST) and a business name, getting an AUSkey to transact online with government agencies, and being endorsed as a deductible gift recipient or an income tax-exempt charity.

There are two requirements for your business to be eligible for an ABN. One is that you must have a business structure in place, and the other is that you must be continuing or starting an enterprise in Australia. No fees are required to get an ABN.

Know more about the Australian Business Number registration here.

4. Food Standards Code

Starting up a restaurant brings with it food safety requirements and obligations. This is to ensure that the consumers are protected from any foodborne illness, as well as to make sure the restaurant is following standard procedures to keep the food they’re serving safe.

Complying with Food Standards Code is required if you are opening a restaurant or any business handling food. While this is not a permit or certificate, this is a must for every food business in Australia as this is considered Code of Practice, which is defined as a result of legislation or by industry regulators and bodies. Wherein, all food and beverage products imported into Australia are subject to inspection. This Code also regulates labelling requirements for packaged and unpackaged goods, which may serve as your raw materials in the restaurant.

Click here to know more about the Food Standards Code and how you can abide to them.

5. Goods and Services Tax Registration

If your new restaurant is expected to have an annual Goods and Services Tax (GST) turnover of $75,000 or more in its first year of operation, you are required to register for a GST license. GST turnover is your gross business income excluding GST for either the 12 months leading up to the current month (current GST turnover) or the 12 months starting with the current month (projected GST turnover). To be eligible to apply, you must have an Australian Business Number (ABN). No fees are required to obtain a GST.

Know the steps on how to register for a GST here.

6. License to Play Music in Restaurants and Cafes

As in any restaurant or cafe, music plays a vital role for setting the ambiance in the area. Before playing copyrighted music in your restaurant, however, you must first apply for a license. This will legally authorize the public performance of copyrighted music from within the Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS) and Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) global inventory of registered songs (called works), sound recordings and music videos.

You would also need to obtain a license from OneMusic Australia depending on the type of business or organization you are operating and this covers the rights of the above mentioned two organizations. To be eligible to apply for this license, you must fill up the relevant application form and pay the appropriate fees, which may vary.

Refer here to know more about how you can attain a license to play music in your establishment.  

7. Approval for Outdoor Dining in a Public Place

Having an outdoor dining space is great. It attracts customers who want to experience fresh breeze and nice weather. It is specifically special as it allows your business to utilise a bigger dining space without having to shell out for infrasturtures. However, you can’t just go place tables and chairs outside your restaurant. You have to follow the rules and protocols set by your city.

Getting this certificate is in accordance with the Roads Act 1993 of New South Wales. Approval for Outdoor Dining in a Public Space allows your establishment to use a public footpath for alfresco dining. To apply for an approval, you need to submit a development application, as well as a footway usage (outdoor dining) application to Sydney’s City Council via their mailing address, GPO BOX 1591. You will also have to prepare at least AU$ 365 for the approval’s processing.

To access the Outdoor Dining Area Approval Application, click here.

8. Approval to Connect Water and Sewerage Service

Operating a restaurant means that you will be consuming a lot of water and producing large amounts of wastewater every day. Thus, connecting to a water and sewerage system is a must for every restaurant. If you intend to connect to a water supply or sewerage service operated by the Sydney Water Corporation, you will need their written approval since accepting trade wastewater into their sewer has its operational, environmental, and safety risks. With this, your planning application for water and sewerage services connection will be inspected by either Sydney Water or NSW Fair Trading before you take them to your local Council for connection.

There are some eligibility requirements for new food establishments who will be building on a property. First, you must ensure that your proposed works will not damage Sydney Water’s pipes. They should still have access to their pipes, if required. And you must apply for a Section 73 Certificate, which is a compliance certificate confirming that you have satisfied the requirements for Sydney Water to provide your restaurant with water and wastewater services.

Know more about this requirement by clicking here.

9. Recognised Competency Card (Liquor)

Initiating happy hours during weekdays, having a liquor bar, and serving your own unique cocktails are great opportunities to make your business stand out and generate greater profit margins. Before being able to do so, however, you will need to attain a Recognised Competency Liquor Card. When successful, your card can last five years.

To begin your application, you initially need to pass a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) course delivered by an approved training organisation in NSW. Some of the establishments you can take the course from are Online Course Now, Kenvale College, Le'Culinaire Hospitality Institute, Novaskill, and Quality Training and Hospitality College. Eligibility requirements can afterwards be consulted with the Liquor and Gaming NSW, Department of Customer Service. When your application is filed, you can track its progress on their website. Also expect to see important announcements, additional training providers, and additional application information there.

Click here to know more about how you can apply for a recognised competency card.


Licensing your business may be the most painstaking part of the process, as acquiring all these permits and certificates involve a lot of paperwork and patience. These are only some of the primary licenses you must have before opening your restaurant in Sydney. Make sure to secure all the necessary permits to avoid any unnecessary penalties. Plan ahead, because it can take 2-3 months or even longer to get everything approved. It can be very tedious, but if you do everything right,  this investment will get you started on your new culinary adventure.