There are many options for foreign investors who come to Dubai in order to start their own businesses. The food industry is one of the most prolific economic sectors of Dubai and those who want to set up companies in this field can choose between a wide range of business types. Among these, opening a restaurant in Dubai can be a very good idea thanks to the high profits that can be registered relatively quickly.
With years of experience in company formation in Dubai, our local specialists are here to answer all your questions related to creating a restaurant business in the Emirate. Furthermore, you can rely on us for assistance in registering your company with the local authorities.
The Food Code in Dubai
The main provisions for setting up restaurants in Dubai are encompassed in the Food Code. The Food Code was enabled in order to support restaurant owners and to provide guidelines for food safety and regulations to be respected when owning a food establishment in Dubai.
The Food Code was designed according to other food codes in countries like the United States or Australia. The Dubai Food Code also encompasses the law regulations stated by the Food Control Department. The Food Code clearly states the requirements to be met in order to obtain a safe environment and health protection of consumers going to restaurants in Dubai.
The Food Code requirements apply to the following categories of food establishments in Dubai:
- restaurants and cafés,
- canteens in hospitals and schools,
- supermarkets and grocery stores,
- catering units,
- food factories.
Choosing the right business form for the Dubai restaurant
In order to open a restaurant or any other type of food business in Dubai, an investor must first choose the type of structure used for company. The most appropriate in the case of a restaurant is the limited liability company which is the easiest to set up. Then, the business owner must decide if the company will be registered in mainland Dubai or one of its free zones.
No matter the choice, the restaurant will be subject to the same registration and licensing requirements. However, full foreign ownership is permitted in Dubai free zones, which can be quite significant for certain overseas investors.
Obtaining a license for a restaurant in Dubai
In order to establish a restaurant in Dubai, a trade license is required from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The owner of the restaurant must also select the appropriate type of business suitable for the type of food establishment he/she wants to open, as the license will clearly state the activity the restaurant will undertake.
The second step will be to receive approval for the construction plans that must be according to some specifications. These specifications are made by the Food Control Department in Dubai. The blueprints of the restaurants must comprise the following information:
- the space for food processing and storage,
- the sanitary spaces such as restrooms,
- the windows and ventilation system,
- the location of the equipment used to process the food,
- the entry and exit passages,
- the location of the washing machines.
It is also important to know that the restaurant must be placed at minimum 30 meters from waste disposal places that could lead to contamination and at least 10 meters of the space around the restaurant must be kept clean at all times.
You can also find out from the video below the main requirements to open a restaurant in Dubai:
Types of licenses for opening a restaurant in Dubai
There are several licenses which must be obtained when setting up a restaurant in Dubai. Among these are:
- the trade license which is issued upon the registration of the company;
- the food license which grants the business the right to process and handle food;
- the construction license, in case the owner wants the restaurant to operate in a new building;
- a liquor license, which requires special attention and must be obtained from the police department;
- a no objection letter from the Dubai municipality must also be obtained.
Other special licenses which can be obtained are the food truck license which is issued for delivery services, however, most of the times this license is required for catering establishments. A pork permit for serving pork meat and a Ramadan license can also be issued in Dubai. We remind investors that these are not mandatory licenses.
Our company registration advisors in Dubai can offer detailed information on the licensing requirements related to starting a restaurant in this Emirate.
Documents required to obtain a food license in Dubai
The Food Safety Department in Dubai requires the following documents to be submitted when opening a restaurant in the Emirate:
- the first approval issued by the Department of Economic Development,
- the premises layout,
- approval from the Planning Department, if the restaurant is located outside a shopping center.
Other special licenses will also be required, depending on the specifics of the restaurant.
Food safety requirements in Dubai
All restaurants in Dubai are required to appoint qualified personnel when starting operating. The individual carrying out this task will be the Person in Charge of Training who needs to undergo an authorized training course. In order to ensure food safety, the restaurant must also obtain the following licenses:
- a food consignment release license;
- a pork permit for handling and serving pork products;
- a vehicle permit for transporting food products.
The Dubai Food Code also imposes special regulations on the import and export of food products.
Obtaining a liquor license for a restaurant in Dubai
Those who want to serve alcoholic beverages in their restaurants in Dubai can apply for a liquor license under certain conditions. The person applying for the license must be non-Muslim, must be at least 21 years old, have a Dubai residence permit and earn at least 3,000 Dh per month. The last requirement related to the minimum salary applies to those selling alcoholic beverages in a Dubai free zone.
For companies, such as restaurants the trade license will be required by the police station officers when applying for the liquor license. The following documents must be filed when applying for a liquor license for a Dubai restaurant:
- the applicant’s personal information which meets the requirements mentioned above;
- the layout of the premises where alcoholic beverages will be sold;
- information about the place where the alcohol is stored;
- a fire safety certificate;
- an estimation of the cost related to selling alcohol in the restaurant.
The requirements related to selling alcohol when opening a restaurant in Dubai are quite stringent, however, this is one of the few emirates which are open to the serving of alcoholic beverages in designated establishments. Special attention must be paid to the facility in which alcoholic beverages are stored which must be strictly controlled.
The validity of the liquor license is 1 year and can be renewed.
Requirements for the construction of a restaurant in Dubai
The site for opening a restaurant must, first of all, be appropriate for a food establishment and provide enough and suitable space for the equipment to be used for this type of activity. The building must allow the place to be cleaned and to make possible the disposal of dirt and smoke to be evacuated easily.
The building must not provide any entries for pests. The food flow must go in one direction only. The utensils used to prepare the food must be provided with an enclosed space so they are not exposed to contamination. Toilets and storage areas must be separated from kitchens.
The following norms must be respected for the construction of a new restaurant business in Dubai:
- the surface of the kitchen must have approximately 28 sqm or represent 40% of the total area of the restaurant;
- the kitchen must have a good ventilation system which a 2-meter-high chimney;
- the walls, the ceiling, and the floor must be fireproof and washable;
- the kitchen must have separate basins for washing the utensils, the vegetables, and the meat;
- the kitchen must also be equipped with an appropriate storage place;
- the drainage pipe must be located at least 10 cm from the wall.
Other requirements could also apply, which is why studying the legislation in this sense is very important.
You can contact our company formation agents in Dubai for details about all the provisions of the Food Code and for the registration steps of a company. You can rely on for assistance with the company incorporation procedure for your restaurant in Dubai.