Q_iconI want to open a restaurant in Japan. What kind of permits or licenses will I need to secure to operate my business?

A_dark_iconTo be able to operate a food establishment such as restaurant in Japan, the establishment must receive a food establishment permit from a public health center and submit a notice to the fire department (such as the Notice of Commencement of Building Usage).

★ Explanation ★

1. License from a public health center

business-application-licenseJapan’s Food Sanitation Act requires those who wish to operate food establishments in Japan to obtain certain business permits. Failure to obtain the necessary documentation is punishable by law, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

To be able to obtain the food business permit, one must meet the following conditions:

  • They should not fall under any “disqualification requirements”
  • The establishment must appoint a Food Hygiene Manager
  • The restaurant facility must meet certain structural and equipment requirements

Whether or not the facility meets the requirements is not entirely dependent on documentation and floor plans; a public health center staff will also examine the actual facility to be opened to see its consistency with the submitted documents and if it meets the requirement.

2. Notice to be submitted to the fire department

Restaurants must also furnish a Notice of Commencement of Building Usage to the local fire department. A fire prevention manager must also be appointed. For facilities with floor space no larger than 300 square meters, a Class B fire prevention manager must be appointed. Facilities with floor space larger than 300 square meters require a Class A fir prevention manager. However, if the total capacity (including guests and employees) of the facility is less than 30, there is no need to submit a notification.

3. Other permits

Other than the two documents mentioned above (business permit for food establishment) and Notice of Commencement of Building Usage, there are other notifications and permits certain types of food establishments need to secure. Bars that primarily serve alcohol and only light foods, for example, have to submit a notice to the police department when one wishes to operate a bar to serve alcohol between midnight and early morning.