A Guide to Obtaining Restaurant License in Dubai

A Guide to Obtaining Restaurant License in Dubai

Running a restaurant successfully in Dubai is a challenging task as you need a considerable investment, a right team, right location and excellent target market (i.e., target customers). Owners and investors must have a solid plan and take the right decision to operate financially successful in the restaurant business. However, looking closer on the industry we can see that there are numerous opportunities for hotel owners, entrepreneurs and investors in Dubai.

Start Your Business by Acquiring Restaurant License in Dubai

Business Set up in Dubai is potentially very rewarding due to the plentiful opportunities. Restaurant operations in Dubai are a lucrative business as the city has numerous opportunities for international hoteliers and entrepreneurs who are interested in offering restaurant services catering to the unique requirements of a diverse set of people in Dubai. The restaurant industry is currently booming as the Expo 2020 is expected to bring more people to Dubai in the form of international tourists and visitors.

Looking forward to the increase in the expat population in Dubai, the food and catering industry is consistently revamping itself to deliver quality food and experience to all kinds of people through restaurants, hotels and food trucks by securing a restaurant license in Dubai.

Food Code in Dubai

All the restaurants, hotels, caterings and kitchens in Dubai are required to follow the food code for starting their operations and maintain the same for keeping their license intact. The Food code was introduced to provide guidelines for food safety and regulations that must be respected and followed when owning and operating a food establishment in Dubai. The Food code is designed to maintain the quality of food materials, hygiene in preparation methods, cleanliness of the food manufacturing infrastructure and practices of personnel working directly or indirectly in the supply, preparation, and delivery of food products or materials.

The Dubai Food Code was designed according to the international standards; this code encompasses the laws and regulations stated by the Food Control Department. The code states the requirements that are to be met in order to obtain a safe environment and health protection for the consumers going to restaurants in Dubai.

Process for Starting a Business by Acquiring Restaurant License in Dubai

Step 1:

Design a solid business plan for your restaurant to succeed in Dubai as it is a very competitive market. The plans could include

  • Setting clear goals
  • Choosing the type of cuisine for your restaurant
  • Finding the right chefs and employees
  • Forming meaningful partnerships with locals suppliers and investors
  • Securing a significant capital from investors
  • Selecting the right location and theme for the restaurant
  • Design your brand or take the support of major players to establish a franchise

Step 2:

Decide whether to establish a business in the Mainland or Free zone. Select a location for starting your restaurant. Obtain the location for rent or lease then show the rental agreement or lease agreement for further assistance from government authorities.

Step 3:

Secure the Food and Trade license for your restaurant. Obtain the food license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) and the trade license from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Step 4:

Target the right customers in the location of the business and then estimate the cost and expenditures needed for setting up your restaurant

Requirements for Starting a Restaurant in Dubai

Architectural Requirements

  • As per the requirements, the restaurant kitchen area must be at least 300 to 800 square feet (if there is a tandoor in the kitchen), or 40% of the total area of the restaurant
  • Walls, floors and roof should be constructed or designed to be washable, non-absorbent and fireproof
  • The kitchen area must have proper ventilation facility, and the chimney should be placed two meters higher than the nearest structure
  • The storage facility must be able to handle all kinds of food items
  • Separate wash basin for washing utensils and spate bin for cleaning the vegetables must be used, a different utensil for all meat items is a must
  • The drainage pipe must be at a distance of at least 2 inches from the wall

Document Requirements for Restaurant License in Dubai

Before starting your restaurant or cafeteria business in Dubai, three primary documents are required to be submitted to the authorities:

  • Trading license
  • Food and safety license
  • Non-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the local municipality of Dubai

Other than these, one can always opt for other permits like:

  • Ramadan permit
  • Liquor permit
  • Pork permit
  • Delivery permit

With a fast-growing tourism sector, strong economic growth, and government commitment the restaurant business in the food and hospitality industry is attracting investors and business leaders all around the world to start their restaurant business in Dubai. However one should know that there is a range of stringent requirements that must be met before starting a restaurant, this includes obtaining the rent or lease for the location of the business, partnership or investor agreements, acquiring the restaurant license in Dubai and adhering to the Dubai food code.

Being a cosmopolitan, restaurant business in Dubai can potentially thrive. Though there are numerous challenges as well, including the documentation and legal requirements according to the UAE and Dubai laws, all of which Business Setup Worldwide can help you fulfil for you. Contact us for more information or any query on setting up a business in Dubai; we would be glad to help.


1. What kinds of licenses are necessary for the food business in Dubai?

Trade license
Food license

2. What are the different types of restaurants operated in Dubai?

Full-service restaurants
Delivery restaurants
The Hole in the Wall Restaurants

3. Can someone from outside of Dubai operate a restaurant?

The restaurant must comply with the same registration and licensing procedures regardless of the decision. However, Dubai free zones allow for complete foreign ownership, which might be necessary for some international investors.

4. Can I market my home-based food in Dubai?

You can apply for a trader license, provided by the economic development departments in every emirate, to register as a home-based cook.

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