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If you're wanting to open a cafe, restaurant or small bar, you can use this page as a guide to get you started.

Make sure you put together a business plan and carefully consider how viable your business is. Get in touch with a trusted local advisor available through the NSW Government's Business Connect program, or with an industry association to get advice specific to your area.

Choosing a business structure

Before starting a small business, it's important you choose the best structure for your business type. The most commonly used business structures are sole trader, company, partnership, and trust.

Set up as a sole trader
Operating as a sole trader is the simplest and cheapest business structure you can set up. You control and manage the business, and although you 'trade' on your own, you can still employ people to work for you.

Register a company
If you've decided a company structure is best for your business, you'll need to register your company with the Australian Government.

Register a limited partnership
If you’ve decided a limited partnership structure is best for your business, you’ll need to register the limited partnership with the NSW Fair Trading’s Registry Services.

Set up a trust business structure
A trust is an obligation imposed on one person or entity – the trustee, to hold property for the benefit of another – the beneficiary. The trustee can be an individual or a company, the latter providing some asset protection.

Register a co-operative
If you've decided a co-operative is best for your business, you'll need to register the co-operative with NSW Fair Trading's Registry Services.

Starting a business

Register an Australian Business Number (ABN)
You don't have to register for an ABN, but an ABN will let you claim Goods and Services Tax credits, energy grants credits, register an Australian domain name, plus more.

Register a business name
You'll need to register a business name, unless you're a sole trader or partnership and your business name is exactly the same as your or you and your partner's first and last names.

Register your business for Goods and Services Tax (GST)
You must register your business for GST if your GST turnover is $75,000 or more.

Apply for a business Tax File Number
If you've decided a company, trust, or partnership structure is best for your business, you'll need to apply for a business Tax File Number.

Apply for an individual Tax File Number
If you’ve decided a sole trader structure is best for your business, you’ll need to apply for an individual Tax File Number.

Check the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR)
Before you buy or lease vehicles, equipment or goods for your business, search the PPSR to avoid property that is stolen, unable to be insured, or subject to a debt or security interest.

Choosing and developing business premises

Leases for cafes, restaurants and small bars
Learn about the type of lease covering premises, regulations and restrictions that may apply, and how you can access specialist assistance if you have any questions or problems.

Apply online for a development application (DA)
Before beginning an application, contact your local council to discuss any local requirements.

Apply for a zoning certificate
To find out about any controls, requirements and restrictions on a property, apply to your local council for a zoning certificate (Section 149 planning certificate).

Apply to make changes to a heritage listed place
If you want to make changes to a heritage listed place, you may need to seek approval from your local council or the Heritage Council of NSW.

Apply to install a street awning or a business sign
Before you install any street awnings or business signs at your premises, you may need to apply for permission from your local council.

Apply to operate a business on reserved land
You’ll need approval from the Office of Environment and Heritage to operate a business on reserved land, such as a national park.

Apply for a Construction Certificate
Before you start any building work, you need to apply for a Construction Certificate from your local council. This certificate confirms the construction plans are consistent with the development consent and other requirements.

Appoint a Principal Certifying Authority
After being issued with development consent or a Construction Certificate, and before you start any approved construction, you need to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority to oversee the building work.

Apply for a Fire Safety Certificate
You’ll need to have a final Fire Safety Certificate from your local council before a final Occupation Certificate can be issued for a new building or an existing building that’s changed use.

Apply for a Compliance Certificate
After your building work is complete, you may need to apply to your local council for a Compliance Certificate to confirm the development meets council and regulatory requirements.

Apply for an Occupation Certificate
Before moving in to your premises, you’ll need an Occupation Certificate from your local council to occupy or use a new building, or change the use of an existing building.

Before you start trading

Apply to discharge commercial trade waste water
You may need approval from your water provider to discharge commercial trade waste water into a public sewer.

Register a regulated water system
You need to register a regulated water system, like a water cooling or warm water system, with your local council.

Waste management for businesses
Waste management is the term used to describe how you collect, transport, dispose of, and recycle waste.

Apply to place commercial waste in a public place
You’ll need approval from your local council if you want to place commercial waste, like spoiled food or the contents of a grease trap, in a public place for collection.

Apply for a licence to play music at your business
If you want to play music at your cafe or restaurant, you'll need 2 kinds of licences to cover copyright issues.

Selling food

Appoint a food safety supervisor
Your food business must have a food safety supervisor.

Prepare for a regular food inspection
Your local council will carry out a food inspection to check that you comply with regulations to serve and sell food.

Alfresco dining approval
If eligible, your food and beverage business can apply for a fast-track process to extend the liquor licence boundary and include new outdoor dining space.

Meet food safety requirements
Your food business must meet Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code requirements.

Selling alcohol

Apply for a Small Bar licence
A Small Bar Licence lets you serve alcohol at a small bar with a limited patron capacity of 60 people.

Apply for Extended Trading Authorisation (small bar)
If you want to extend your small bar’s trading hours, you can apply at the same time as a Small Bar Licence application or at a later stage.

Apply for an on-premises licence (cafe or restaurant)
An on-premises liquor licence lets you serve alcohol with meals at your cafe or restaurant.

Apply for Primary Service Authorisation
If you want to serve alcohol at your cafe or restaurant to customers who are not consuming food, you need to apply for a Primary Service Authorisation (PSA).

Apply for a Liquor Approved Manager licence
If the holder of the liquor licence is a corporation, it must appoint a Liquor Approved Manager. If you'd like to work as a Liquor Approved Manager, you must apply to become one.

Appoint a Liquor Approved Manager
If the holder of the liquor licence is a corporation, it must appoint a Liquor Approved Manager and notify ILGA about the appointment.

Prepare a Community Impact Statement
Before applying for a liquor licence, you may need to prepare a Community Impact Statement to consult the local community.

Apply for a National Police Certificate
Before you lodge an application for a liquor licence, you must get a National Police Certificate to determine your suitability to hold a liquor licence.

Undertake Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training
If you work in a licenced premises that serves alcohol, you must have valid RSA training.

Apply for an RSA competency card
Once you have completed RSA training, you must apply for an RSA competency card.

Order Liquor and Gaming NSW signage
If you’re licenced to sell liquor at your cafe, restaurant or small bar, you need to display certain signage.

Comply with liquor laws and licence conditions
If you intend to hold a liquor licence, you must ensure you comply with liquor laws and statutory licence conditions and requirements.

Setting up workers

Comply with Fair Work requirements
If you’re employing staff you must comply with Fair Work requirements like minimum pay and conditions.

Paying employees at award rates
You must make sure you're providing at least minimum wages and conditions for your permanent employees. These conditions are covered in the awards.

Register for PAYG withholding
You'll need to register for PAYG withholding if you need to withhold tax (on behalf of the Australian Tax Office) from payments you make to employees, contractors, or other businesses that haven't supplied you an ABN.

Paying super contributions using SuperStream
SuperStream is the way all employers are required to pay contributions and send information to super funds.

Register for the superannuation clearing house
If you have 19 or fewer employees or have an aggregated turnover below $2 million, you can register for the small business superannuation clearing house to pay super contributions to your employees in a single online location.

Use the Superannuation Guarantee Contributions Calculator
Use the calculator to check the super contributions you need to pay your employees.

Comply with work health and safety laws
You must comply with work health and safety (WHS) laws so that people who come into contact with your business (customers, contractors or visitors) are kept healthy and safe.

Apply for a workers compensation insurance policy
If you're going to pay more than $7,500 a year in wages, you'll need to have a workers compensation insurance policy.

Managing contractors and employees
You have different responsibilities if you engage contractors rather than permanent employees.

Paying employees at award rates
You must make sure you're providing at least minimum wages and conditions for your permanent employees. These conditions are covered in the awards.

Register for PAYG withholding
You'll need to register for PAYG withholding if you need to withhold tax (on behalf of the Australian Tax Office) from payments you make to employees, contractors, or other businesses that haven't supplied you an ABN.

Paying super contributions using SuperStream
SuperStream is the way all employers are required to pay contributions and send information to super funds.

Register for the superannuation clearing house
If you have 19 or fewer employees or have an aggregated turnover below $2 million, you can register for the small business superannuation clearing house to pay super contributions to your employees in a single online location.

Use the Superannuation Guarantee Contributions Calculator
Use the calculator to check the super contributions you need to pay your employees.

Work health and safety (WHS) for business
Work health and safety (WHS) is about ensuring the safety, health and welfare of people while they are at work.

Comply with work health and safety laws
You must comply with work health and safety (WHS) laws so that people who come into contact with your business (customers, contractors or visitors) are kept healthy and safe.

Apply for a workers compensation insurance policy
If you're going to pay more than $7,500 a year in wages, you'll need to have a workers compensation insurance policy.

Managing contractors and employees
You have different responsibilities if you engage contractors rather than permanent employees.

Grants, financial help and general business support

Grants and programs finder
This tool can help you find out if you’re eligible to apply for a grant or program and what you could receive if successful.

General business support
Information about ongoing business support and the free resources that are available.

Other things to consider

Register a trade mark
A trade mark (sometimes called a brand) is the way you show your customers and the public who you are.

Register a domain name for your business
With an ABN, you can register a website name that ends with '.au'.

Get liability insurance for your business
You can choose to take out public liability, professional indemnity, or product liability insurance. Public liability insurance protects you and your business against the risks of damage or injury to people or property. While it's not mandatory, it's essential for a business.

Notify SafeWork NSW of an incident
Under work health and safety legislation, certain 'notifiable incidents' must be immediately reported to SafeWork NSW.

Meet requirements for displaying or advertising prices
When displaying or advertising the prices of products or services you're selling, there are laws that you need to comply with that ensure the prices you show are clear and accurate, and not misleading to your customers.

Comply with outdoor dining smoke-free laws
You must comply with commercial outdoor dining smoke-free laws so that people who come into contact with your business are protected from second-hand smoke.