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Do You Need a Licence to Sell Coffee in the UK? Everything You Must Know!

By Maria Hickey on September 5th, 2023

For coffee connoisseurs with an entrepreneurial spirit, opening a coffee shop can be an exciting venture. However, before embarking on this journey, it is essential to understand the legal requirements and regulations that are in place in the UK. 

This article will cover everything you need to know about the requirements and types of licences required to sell coffee.

Understanding the Regulations and Requirements

Opening a coffee shop in the UK requires complying with a range of legal obligations and regulations. As a cafe business owner, you’ll need to navigate through various licences, permits, and certifications to ensure your coffee shop operates within the law. 

Additionally, you must follow specific rules and cafe regulations related to premises, hygiene, and health and safety.

Opening a Cafe Legal Requirements UK

  • Before starting a coffee business, you must register your business with the government.
  • You’ll need to have a suitable premises for your coffee shop, which meets all health and safety standards.
  • You must obtain planning permission from your local council for any significant changes to your premises, such as changes to the building’s structure.
  • You must also obtain a range of licences, including a premises licence and a music licence

It’s worth noting that the legal requirements may vary depending on the type of coffee business you wish to operate. For instance, mobile coffee vans may have additional licensing requirements, such as a street trading licence.

Do You Need a Food Hygiene Certificate to Sell Tea and Coffee?

Although not a legal requirement, having a food hygiene certificate is still recommended if you plan to sell tea and coffee. It will help ensure that the beverages you serve are safe for consumption and that they meet all necessary regulations.  

Beyond this, many local authorities require cafe business owners to have a food hygiene certificate as part of their health and safety requirements. Without one, local authorities may not grant your cafe the necessary permit to operate.

Regulations for Food Hygiene and Safety

The strict regulations to maintain high standards of food hygiene and safety include: 

  • Maintaining high standards of cleanliness in your premises at all times.
  • Providing suitable protective clothing and equipment to your staff.
  • Ensuring all food and drink products are stored, prepared, and served in a hygienic manner.
  • Regularly inspecting and cleaning your premises, equipment, and utensils.
  • Ensuring all staff have completed relevant training such as a food hygiene course.

The Different Types of Coffee Shop Licences

As already mentioned, there are some licences that a coffee shop needs in order to run legally. We offer a breakdown of the two main ones:

Premises Licence

A premises licence is required for any business (including a coffee shop) that sells alcohol or provides regulated entertainment, such as live music or karaoke. This licence will need to be obtained from the local council and it will specify what type of entertainment can be provided and when it has to stop.

Music Licence 

A music licence is required for any business that plays recorded music, broadcasts radio or television, or shows films with music. This ensures that royalties are paid to creators of the material being used. 

This could include background music in the coffee shop, as well as any live performances taking place on the premises. 

Obtaining a Coffee Shop Licence in the UK

Below is a step-by-step guide to obtaining a licence if you plan to sell coffee in the UK:

Step 1: Determine what licence you need

The cafe regulations surrounding coffee shop licensing vary depending on the location of your business, the types of products you intend to sell, and the types of entertainment you will offer.

The specific licensing authority in your area can provide advice on what licences you require.

Step 2: Gather the necessary documentation

Once you have confirmed which coffee shop licence(s) you need, you must then gather certain documentation to support your application. This may include:

  • Proof of your cafe business registration.
  • Plans for your premises, including details of any equipment you plan to use.
  • Details of your waste disposal arrangements. 

Step 3: Submit your application

After you have gathered the necessary documentation, you can submit your application for a coffee shop licence to your local council. The application fee will vary depending on your location and the type of licence you require. You should also expect to undergo an inspection of your premises before your application can be approved.

It is important to note that the application process can take several weeks, so plan accordingly and submit your application well in advance of your planned opening date.


Selling coffee in the UK requires compliance with a range of legal obligations and cafe regulations. From obtaining the necessary licences and permits to maintaining food hygiene standards, cafe business owners must be diligent in meeting the requirements set out by the local authorities. 

By preparing in advance and following these regulations, you can ensure that your cafe business is prepared for success. 

Get Coffee Shop Insurance Today

Here at Brisco, our coffee shop insurance covers you for a wide range of coffee shop risks, from employer liability to equipment breakdown. 

With our tailored policy plans, you can rest assured that your business is covered in the event of any unexpected issues. We understand the importance of having peace of mind when running a business and our expert team is here to help guide you through the process. To learn more about our full coverage options, get a quote today.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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