On the Line / Operations / Licenses and Permits to Open a Restaurant in New York

Licenses and Permits to Open a Restaurant in New York

Getting your New York restaurant licenses and permits in order is a critical step in setting your restaurant up for success. Learn how to get them.

Opening a Restaurant Checklist
icon RESOURCE

Opening a Restaurant Checklist

So many things go into opening a restaurant. Use this free PDF checklist to set your new restaurant up for success.

Download
You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
Are you opening a new restaurant? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required
loadingspinner

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

Licenses and Permits to Open a Restaurant

DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

No matter where you’re opening a restaurant, cafe, bar, or any other food business, you’re going to need to get your licenses and permits in order. 


A liquor license, a food facility health permit, a certificate of occupancy — they all have varying (and sometimes overlapping) requirements, so it’s important to know exactly what you need to get to legally open a restaurant in your particular city or county in New York. 

As soon as you’ve secured funding with your thorough restaurant business plan, one of the next steps to get going on is your licenses and permits. Many of them can take weeks, if not months (or even longer), so getting started as early as possible can help prevent bumps in the road to opening your doors.

In New York, the first step of opening a restaurant is registering your business with the secretary of state. Then, businesses must figure out which licenses and permits they’ll need to obtain.

We’ll get into some of the most common licenses and permits needed in New York, what they are and why you need them, how to get them, and how much they cost.

Opening a Restaurant Checklist
icon RESOURCE

Opening a Restaurant Checklist

So many things go into opening a restaurant. Use this free PDF checklist to set your new restaurant up for success.

Download
You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
Are you opening a new restaurant? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required
loadingspinner

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

Licenses and Permits Required to Open a Restaurant in New York

  1. Business License
  2. Certificate of Occupancy
  3. Food Handler’s License, also known as Food Service License
  4. Seller’s Permit
  5. Liquor License Permit
  6. Catering Business License
  7. Food Facility Health Permit
  8. Employee Health Permit

1. Business License in New York

What is it and why do you need it?

A business license is one of the first licenses you’ll need as you start laying the groundwork of your business. Also known as a business tax certificate, it helps your business stay compliant at tax season.

How to get a business license in New York

In New York, business licenses are controlled by the city or county you live in. If you operate a restaurant with multiple locations across cities and counties, it’s important to get a business license for each business in different jurisdictions. To get a business license in New York, you’ll need:

  1. An EIN
  2. To choose what classification of business you’ll be (LLC? Sole proprietorship? Partnership?)
  3. A business name
  4. An address and phone number,
  5. A thorough restaurant business plan
  6. A COI for your business insurance policy

How much does a business license cost in New York?

New York business license costs vary depending the county, type and scope of the business. Business licenses in New York need to be renewed and paid for regularly, so check with your jurisdiction about how often yours will need to be renewed.

License Name

Cost

Link

Business License

$100 - $200

New York State portal

Read this next
How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan
Operations

How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star.

Restaurant Business Plan Template
icon RESOURCE

Restaurant Business Plan Template

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star. Organize your vision and ensure that nothing is overlooked with this free template.

Download
You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
What is your role? is required
What best describes your restaurant type? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required
loadingspinner

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

2. Certificate of Occupancy in New York

What is it and why do you need it?

A certificate of occupancy is a document that shows your space is zoned for your type of business, as well as up to code, safe to use, and up to date on its checks and inspections. Not every county will require them for new businesses, and even then, only certain situations require them, including if you’re doing major building work or changing the use of a space from residential to business.

Always get in touch with your local jurisdiction to determine if your project warrants a CoO.

How to get a certificate of occupancy license?

The forms are online, but in order to get the certificate, your business location will need to go through fire inspections, plumbing inspections, electrical inspections, and building inspections. Check your local city or county’s building and safety department.

How much does a certificate of occupancy cost?

Different counties will charge different amounts, and they will also vary by type of business. Fee will vary depending on county.


License Name

Cost

Link

Certificate of Occupancy

Fees will vary depending on county

Check your local city or county’s small business department

3. Food Handler’s License in New York

What is it and why do you need it?

A food service license, also known as an employee health permit, allows restaurants, vendors, or any other type of food business to safely sell and serve food onsite. These licenses ensure that every employee knows how to do their part to keep your diners safe from foodborne illness. They’re often referred to as ServSafe, after the company that administers most food handler’s tests, or as a New York Food Handler Card.

How to get a food handler’s license in New York

Every employee who prepares or serves food in New York must get their Food Handler’s license within 30 days of being hired — chefs, cooks, servers, baristas, and bartenders, to name a few. Bussers and general managers may not be required to do so. 

And if managers have already gotten their Food Protection Manager Certification, they’re also exempt from getting a New York Food Handler card. Some jurisdictions have their own food safety training programs and standards, so they’re exempt from requiring employees to get a New York Food Handler card.

To get their food handler’s card, employees must pass a test about food safety and preparation with a grade of at least 70% (or higher in some jurisdictions).

How much does a food service license cost in New York?

New York state law requires that the test and license not cost more than $15, in order to make sure anyone working in a restaurant can afford to get certified.


License Name

Cost

Link

Food Handler's License

Up to $15 per employee

New York Food Handler Training

Restaurant Opening Calculator
icon RESOURCE

Restaurant Opening Calculator

This calculator lays out some of the fundamental financial costs of opening a restaurant, so you can start planning and bring your dream restaurant to life.

Download
You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
What is your role? is required
What best describes your restaurant type? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required
loadingspinner

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

4. Food Seller’s Permit in New York

What is it and why do you need it?

Any business that plans to sell tangible goods that are subject to sales tax needs a seller’s permit. This permit allows them to charge sales tax.

How to get a seller’s permit?

You can register for a permit online through the SBA License and Permits portal.

How much does a food seller’s license cost?

There’s no fee to apply for a seller’s permit, but you may be asked to pay a security deposit to cover unpaid taxes if the business eventually closes.


License Name

Cost

Link

Seller's Permit

$0 (but a security deposit may be requested

SBA Licenses and Permits

Read this next
How To Open a Restaurant
Operations

How To Open a Restaurant

Here is your beginners checklist to opening a restaurant: from developing a business plan, picking a location, developing your menu, and everything in between.

5. Liquor License in New York

What is it and why do you need it?

This license is required for any type of business to sell and serve alcohol to its patrons. Since alcohol has an incredibly high markup and a long shelf life, it’s often beneficial from a profit standpoint to sell alcohol.

How to get a liquor license in New York

In New York, liquor licenses are issued by the state. You must have a seller’s permit already to be able to apply for a liquor license. 

After you’ve applied for a liquor license, you must post a public notice of application on your business’s premises for 30 days. Some cases require the applicant to notify their neighbors or post a notice in the newspaper. They will also need to show that their business is correctly zoned for an alcohol-selling business. 

The department does an investigation into the future business and the applicant to see if they qualify. It takes between 30 and 90 days to process a liquor license application, depending on what kind of application it is, so be sure to build this time frame into your countdown to opening. Licenses are renewed on a yearly basis, so you must pay the renewal fee on time or your license will expire until the fee is paid. 

How much does a liquor license cost in New York?

A liquor license in New York can cost from $4300 - $10000. See the full fees associated with different types of liquor licenses in New York here.


License Name

Cost

Link

Liquor License

$4300 - $10000

New York State Liquor Authority

Restaurant POS Comparison Tool
icon RESOURCE

Restaurant POS Comparison Tool

A free, customizable Restaurant POS Comparison Tool to research and compare point of sale systems in one Excel spreadsheet or editable PDF.

Download
You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
What is your current POS? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required
loadingspinner

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

6. Catering Business License in New York

In New York, there’s no specific catering license, but caterers need to obtain a liquor license if they’ll be serving alcohol, and food safety certifications like other businesses that handle food. 

7. Food Facility Health Permit in New York

What is it and why do you need it?

All restaurants need to have their health permits in order before opening, and they must stick to safe food handling, storage, and preparation practices all throughout their operations. They help prevent foodborne illness in patrons, and ensure worker safety as well.

How to get a food facility health permit?

In New York, health permits are under city and county jurisdiction, so check with your local health department to find out how to apply. 

Unlike some liquor licenses, health permits are not transferable. When you start a new restaurant, even if it’s in the space of an existing restaurant, you’ll need to get a new health permit. 

When you apply for a health permit, which can often be done online depending on the city, you’ll then need to get an inspection to ensure your space and practices will fit with the New York Health and Safety Code and all applicable ordinances. If your business is determined to be safe to operate, you will receive your health permit.

How much does a food facility health permit cost?

As usual with city and county-based permits, the costs vary.


License Name

Cost

Link

Food Facility Health Permit

Variable, but typically hundreds of dollars or $1000+

Check your local health authority for on online application

8. Employee Health Permit in New York

In New York, an employee health permit is the same as a food handler’s license. 

Timeline for Opening a Restaurant: Next Steps

Opening a restaurant is a huge undertaking with dozens of steps, overlapping requirements, and mountains of paperwork. Writing up a solid restaurant business plan and securing funding for your restaurant are some of the first things you’ll need to do so that you can afford all the building blocks of your business, including your licenses and permits. 

Getting your licenses and permits in order as early as possible — at least three months before you plan to open, ideally starting the process six months before you open, can help you avoid any bumps in the road. 

While you’re waiting on licenses and permits to come through, you can continue going through the process of setting up your restaurant for success. Plan your staffing needs and, near the end of your permitting process, start reaching out to your community and interviewing candidates. 

Work on your renovations (once your certificate of occupancy has come through), and bring your interior design and decor dreams to life. Test your menu over and over again until it’s perfect, and work on your inventory and pricing strategies. 

As you approach opening day, you can also start to peruse your restaurant technology options and find what combination of products and systems make sense to help you set your operation up for success from day one. A modern point of sale platform with online ordering, team management, and inventory capabilities can help save you time and money as you grow your business.  

Opening a Restaurant Checklist
icon RESOURCE

Opening a Restaurant Checklist

So many things go into opening a restaurant. Use this free PDF checklist to set your new restaurant up for success.

Download
You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
Are you opening a new restaurant? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required
loadingspinner

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

Subscribe to On the Line

Sign up to get industry intel, advice, tools, and honest takes from real people tackling their restaurants’ greatest challenges.

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

Otl subscribe 44