Every new business needs to get licenses and permits—and businesses that sell food need more of them than most.

Different cities, counties and municipalities have their own unique license and permitting requirements for restaurants. For example, you may need a permit to dispose of grease from your cooking process, to allow outdoor seating on the sidewalk or to install a fire alarm. Check with both state and local authorities to ensure you’re aware of all license and permit requirements for your restaurant.

Once you get your licenses and permits, display them as required. Make copies and keep them in a safe place.

Some licenses and permits expire annually, while others last for a few years. Develop a system to keep track of when your permits expire so you can start the renewal process well in advance. You don’t want to face a fine or have to shutter your restaurant temporarily because an essential license or permit has expired.

Download this checklist and learn what licenses and permits you’ll need to open a restaurant.

Some of the licenses covered include:

Building Permit

If you’re making changes to your restaurant that affect its structural integrity or its water, sewer, electrical or other mechanical systems, you’ll need a building permit before starting the work. Contact your city government for more information.

Certificate of Occupancy

This certifies that your restaurant has been inspected by the city’s zoning or building department and is safe for occupancy. The certification may also involve a fire permit issued by the local fire marshal.

Food Service License

Businesses that store, prepare and serve food (as opposed to simply selling prepackaged food) must be inspected by both state and local health departments to ensure they’re following food safety regulations. Contact your state and city health departments for information.

Food Handler’s Permit

Each of your employees must take a food safety course and be issued their own food handler’s permit. Get more information from your state and city health departments.

Download this checklist for all the licenses and permits you will need.

two restaurant owners