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A concise guide to starting your restaurant in Qatar

Setting up a legal entity for the purpose of starting his first outlet in Qatar, led Nawaf on a journey that had more twists and turns than what he was expecting. Nawaf started his restaurant in the malabar coastal city of Kannoor; and heard of Qatar as a fast-growing economy with the food, beverage and restaurant industry which has witnessed a steep growth in the recent past. Nawaf was keen to get into the mix but what he needed was a partner that would help him make that critical jump in a safe and secure manner.

When searching about Qatar, Nawaf found a number of things that helped him understand why Qatar is a great place to do business. He has summarised three primary factors that work in his favour during this process:

  • Qatar is a thriving melting pot of culture with people from varied ethnicities and countries across the global continents – Americas, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Australia.

  • Qatar hosts over 2,256,000 tourists each year

  • Restaurant owners enjoy good government economic policies and GDP

His next question was the most important in this scenario. “How do I make this a reality?”

The simple answer to this question is; register your company and get the licensing process right.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce does not impose heavy restrictions on companies planning to start restaurants, cafeterias or food outlets, and the local Municipality oversees the regulations, when you apply for a Trade Licence. Just like any business, you need to register your legal entity by applying for a CR. (Read here, our blog on how to set up a company)

One needs to be mindful about a few things when setting up a restaurant in Qatar:

  1. Location: We can’t emphasise more on this. The place should conform to the prescribed standards with regard to laws of public health, hygiene, and construction, and this would include wash basins, seating, toilets, ventilation, cleanliness standards, hot and cold water etc.

  2. Interior Tiling: The interior of the building must be fully tiled, including bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas, where necessary. This does not mean that you cannot bring your own unique ambiance into the mix, however, it must fall within the norms of the Municipality that issues you the Trade Licence Licence to start selling.

  3. Civil Defence: Compatible with the laws of Civil Defence in terms of fire protection, security and safety system, the interior walls of the building must be fully tiled, including bathrooms, kitchens and dining areas. This includes the fact that Water sprinklers and other fire safety equipment must be handy in the unwarranted incident of a fire.

  4. Employees: The employees in the restaurant must be healthy and hygienic and must be approved by the relevant authorities to handle food. This is a mandatory requirement for those employees handling food.

  5. Refrigeration: Provision to be made with respect to refrigerators and food storage equipment to store and save the food in accordance with public health conditions.

Well, after completing all registration processes required for restaurant formation the shareholders are asked to complete the remaining Licences that are required for supporting their business operation.

The shareholders or those appointed by them are asked to visit the authorised Governmental bodies to get hold of these Licences and permits along with all sort relevant approvals for the running of a restaurant.

We have listed a few of the Licensing and Approvals needed for starting a restaurant below:

  • Commercial Registration (Commonly called the CR)

  • Trade LicenceLicence (Against the Restaurant Location)

  • Establishment Card (Formerly called the Computer Card)

  • Staff Health and Safety Approval (Also known as Food Handler’s Certificate)

  • Restaurant Health and Safety Approval

  • Civil Defence Approval

As a foreign investor, the best type of legal entity for your company is a Limited Liability Company structured where a local partner holds 51% of the shares of your company. We at BBMS can assist you with this process of setting up and holding the shares of your company so that you don’t have to worry about the hassle of setting up but instead focus on the operational aspect of your company.

Should your company require to expand by increasing the number of branches that operations are there, this is possible by adding branches on the Commercial Registration. BBMS would be happy to help you in this process as well.

The afore mentioned points are only some of the primary Licences and permits restaurants must acquire to open and operate legally. The exact laws and regulations for each Licence are often specific to each company. We at BBMS will help you understand all of the various Licences you will need. We can help you set up the business because it can be a tedious and drawn-out process if you are doing this on your own. We will also help you with securing all of the necessary permits towards opening your new restaurant.

If you are looking to set up a restaurant or start your own business endeavour, we will ensure that you only have to focus on your business and not worry about the drudgery of the legalities behind setting up a company. Shoot us an email at or call us at +974 4012 0333 and one of our advisors will be sure to assist you just as we did Nawaf. Bon appetit!

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