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The Licenses and Permits Needed When Owning a Business in the Food Industry

One of the most important and legal requirements entrepreneurs need to remember before starting a business is making sure they have all the necessary associated permits and licenses. The food service industry is the one we’re focusing on today. This industry is made up of restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, hotels, and catering companies.

The most important regulations that owners in this sector have to make sure they comply with are health and safety permits, retail licenses, and licenses for the selling of liquor and tobacco. You’ll even need a zoning permit to operate in certain areas. 

Keep reading to get into the full break down of these licenses and permits, and others that are required when opening a business that involves the sale of food.

A Breakdown on the Licenses/Permits You Need

A Business License

In terms of the Businesses Act (1991), when a person is starting a business with the purpose of selling or supplying any food in the form of meals for consumption on or off the business premises, or any perishable food, then that business is required to hold a business license.

Tip: If you’re looking to open a grocery store, consider getting this retail food store license!

However, there are instances where you don’t need this license. Education institution restaurants for example. Profits are derived and then devoted to that or another institution. 

Health and Safety

Under The Health Act (1977), there are regulations governing general hygiene requirements for food premises and the transport of food, in terms of the person who handles food or permits food to be handled, such as a restaurant, is required to possess a certificate of acceptability.

Liquor Licensing

If you’re planning on selling liquor, then the inevitable fact is ensuring you have the license required. The granting of liquor licenses is dealt with at provincial level, which means that every province within South Africa has its own specific laws governing liquor licensing.

Sound and Music

If you plan on playing music in your restaurant, even if it’s in the background, then (depending on certain factors) you will need a license from The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) as well as a license from The South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA). These are completely separate companies, and therefore two separate licenses. 

  • A license from SAMRO covers the copyright in the actual song (i.e. the composition and the lyrics), and the royalties payable by you in terms of this license will be distributed by SAMRO to music publishers and songwriters. 
  • A license from SAMPRA covers the copyright in the recorded version of the song, and the royalties payable by you in terms of this license will be distributed by SAMPRA to certain record companies. 

Why Do You Need to Obtain These Permits/ Licenses?

A restaurant is required to hold a business license and a certificate of acceptability because of the impact of owning a restaurant and selling food may have on public health and safety if certain standards are not adhered to. In relation to liquor licensing, due to the socio-economic effect of alcohol abuse, it is essential that the supply of alcohol is regulated, and that restaurants are required to hold licenses to sell liquor.

Music licenses are necessary for the protection of intellectual property rights. 

  • A license from SAMRO is necessary to protect the intellectual property of composers and authors by providing them with adequate accreditation and compensation. 
  • A license from SAMPRA is necessary to protect the intellectual property of record companies by providing them with adequate accreditation and compensation.


Knowing which licenses you will need is a very important step to opening your own restaurant. What is exciting however, is if you’re investing in a franchise, you can then get the right advise and assistance in gaining the licenses you need to succeed. Take these tips into consideration, and watch yourself sky rocket to heights you never knew were possible.

Syandita Malakar
Syandita Malakar
Hi guys this is Syandita. I started Business Module Hub to help you all to post updated articles on technologies, gadgets. Although I love to write about travel, food, fashion and so on. I quite love reading the articles of Business Module Hub it always update me about the new technologies and the inventions. Hope you will find Business Module Hub interesting in various way and help you accordingly. Keep blogging and stay connected....!
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