Starting a Restaurant Business in Hong Kong – Preparation Is the Key to Success
Before you can start a restaurant business in Hong Kong, there are several licensing requirements which you must comply with. Aside from the General Restaurant License which you must acquire from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), there may be other licensing requirements which must be fulfilled before you can operate your restaurant establishment.
The Process of Starting a Restaurant Business in Hong Kong
Hong Kong isn’t just a bustling business hub in Asia, Hong Kong is also one of the best culinary capitals in the region. There is no shortage of international cuisines available from across the globe, and the locals certainly enjoy eating out.
To start a restaurant business in Hong Kong, you will need to first get your company incorporated. This can be done by registering your Company with the Hong Kong Companies Registry and obtain a Certificate of Incorporation.
Once that has been completed, the second step of starting a restaurant business in Hong Kong would be to choose a suitable premise for your establishment. You must do this before lodging your application for the General Restaurant License. The premise that you choose must adhere to the guidelines from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s Health Requirements, the Buildings Department’s Building and Safety Requirements and the Fire Services Departments Fire Safety Requirements.
After you have sourced a suitable business premise, the next step of starting a restaurant business in Hong Kong would be to lodge an application with the FEHD for your General Restaurant License application. For the application, you must submit the following documents:
- A complete General Restaurant License application
- Certified true copies of your Business Registration Certificate
- Certified true copies of your Certificate of Incorporation
- True copies of your Articles of Association
- Certified true copies of your Notice of Situation of Registered Office
- Certified true copies of the company’s recent annual returns
- True copies of the stamped tenancy agreement, or a record of ownership of the premise
- Certified true copies (3 copies) of the scaled metric layout plan of your business premise. This must include layout plans of the kitchen, refreshment area, preparation area, toilets, store area and more. All of these must meet the FEHD’s minimum statutory requirements.
- A copy of the Board Resolution which confirms the appointment of an authorised person to represent your company in the license application.
Screening and Deliberation Process
Once the FEHD receives your application, the FEHD will distribute a copy to the Fire Services Department and Buildings Department. The FEHD will organise a preliminary screening of your layout plan. Meanwhile, the Buildings Department and Fire Services Department will organise separate inspections of the premise.
The application vetting panel will hold a meeting between the officers of these 3 departments within 10 days. This is after conducting ample inspections. FEHD will issue you with the licensing requirements based on the feedback they receive from the Fire Services Department and Buildings Department. You will have 6 months to fulfil all the criteria listed (if applicable). You can then submit your compliance report to the FEHD.
After receiving the report, the FEHD will conduct a final verification within 10 days. If the result is satisfactory, then you will get the General Restaurant License within 7 days. However, you must still pay the license fee payment to actually receive the document.
Applying for Additional Restaurant Licenses in Hong Kong
After completing the initial stages of starting a restaurant business in Hong Kong and you have acquired the General Restaurant License, you will need to apply for the following additional licenses and permits if applicable:
- Liquor License if you intend to serve liquor on your restaurant premises.
- Import License if you are importing meat and poultry for your restaurant business. You will also need to register your restaurant with the Centre for Food Safety.
- Bakery License if your restaurant requires the over-the-counter retail sale of bread and other bakery products. If your general restaurant bakes bread and other bakery products, you will not need to have a separate Bakery License.
- Food Factory License if you intend to prepare, further process, manufacture of pack food for the sale of human consumption off the premises. This also includes takeaway services of catering services.
- Karaoke Establishment Permit if you intend to operate a karaoke facility in your Hong Kong restaurant business.
- Restricted Food Permit is applicable for certain items such as cut fruit, oyster, meat, sushi and sashimi in their raw forms.
- Non-bottled Drinks/Frozen Confections/Milk Permit is necessary for the retail sale of non-bottled drinks, frozen confections or milk on the restaurant premises.
- Vending Machine Permit is a must if you intend to sell food by means of a vending machine
- Outside Eating Accommodation Permit is necessary if your establishment has an open area for alfresco dining.
The Final Step of Starting a Restaurant Business in Hong Kong
After sorting out all the required permits and licenses, it is time for the final step of starting a restaurant business in Hong Kong. Hiring your staff. You will find plenty of capable locals in Hong Kong who will be a suitable fit for your business, and if you intend to hire foreign workers under the Supplementary Labour Scheme, you will require a work pass scheme for low to mid-skilled foreign workers. You may also employ foreign workers under the Employment Visa Scheme for those who are highly proficient professionals.