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Catering Business: Permits and Licences

If you intend to open a pizzeria, bar, restaurant or a burger place – in other words, if you are preparing to provide catering services and engage in food handling activities – you will first have to overcome the main barrier involving the documents regulating these services: Law on Food of the Republic of Lithuania, Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs, Lithuanian Hygiene Norm HN 15:2005 ‘Food Hygiene’, and the other legal acts laying down the food safety, quality and handling requirements.

In the Good Hygiene Practice (GHP) rules for catering businesses, you’ll find just about everything you need to know, which will help you keep up with this range of documents. The State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) also requires you to provide a pledge or a manager’s order, confirming that you have read these rules and will comply with them in your work.

Whether you will be running a business producing food or catering, outdoors or indoors, and if you will be selling drinks, all of these are considered as food operators and require the appropriate certificates. These are issued by the SFVS territorial unit, and are assigned according to the site of the activity. Currently, the certificates are issued remotely: after the submission of documents to the service by e-mail, the entity is typically registered without a visit of the inspectors within 5 working days.

Food Handling Certificate

Documents required for the Food Handling Certificate:

  1. Application in an approved form;
  2. Technological plan with a list of the equipment and explication of the premises;
  3. Description of the food handling process;
  4. Document on the application of the GHP rules;
  5. Copy of the lease agreement or a document confirming ownership of the property;
  6. Company extract from the Centre of Registers;
  7. Water laboratory test protocol (required in some cases only).

Outdoor Café Permit

This document is required for an outdoor café operating on the premises of the catering provider if it is located on municipal land. Each municipality has its own internal procedures and requirements, which are available on the municipality websites. These permits are issued taking into account the comments of the Departments of Cultural Heritage Protection, Detailed Planning and Architecture, Traffic Management and Infrastructure.

In Vilnius, a permit to trade (provide services) in an outdoor café is issued no later than within 10 working days, and the documents may be submitted electronically. For the second consecutive season, projects in the municipalities of the largest cities will not be subject to special requirements: it is sufficient to submit the scheme and carry out the outdoor café activities in accordance with the specified procedure.

Documents required for an outdoor café permit:

  1. Application;
  2. Outdoor café scheme with the related dimensions;
  3. Copy of the levy payment (some municipalities are not applying the levy for the 2021 season).

Advertising permit

Outdoor advertising is allowed only with the consent of the majority of the building’s co-owners. The requirements set by the Department of Cultural Heritage and the municipalities will depend on the location of your public catering facility in the city; exact information will be available on the website of a specific municipality. The permit will be issued in approximately 30 business days.

Documents required for an advertising permit:

  1. Application;
  2. Copy of the lease agreement or a document confirming ownership of the property;
  3. Consent of the majority of the co-owners of the building regarding the installation of the outdoor advertising specified in the project;
  4. Details of the outdoor advertising project;
  5. Document certifying the patenting of a trademark (especially if your trademark is written in a language other than the state language);
  6. Levy.

Licence to engage in selling alcoholic beverages

This licence can ONLY be obtained by entities that have already been issued with a food handling approval certificate. Prior to issuing the licence, the company and the director are inspected as well as the debts to SODRA – to ensure there are no debts. The licence is issued within 30 working days following the submission of the related documents; this task also needs to be planned in advance.

Documents required for the licence:

  1. Application;
  2. Company extract from the Centre of Registers;
  3. Consent of the majority of the owners of the dwellings in the apartment building, as well as an extract of all the premises in the apartment building from the Centre of Registers;
  4. Levy.

A couple more tips:

  • If the premises are located in a residential apartment building, a licence will only be issued when the main customer entrance does not coincide with the entrance to the staircase of the building.
  • If several units performing the same activity are installed in one service hall of a public catering establishment, one combined licence shall be issued.
  • Trade in alcoholic beverages is prohibited in healthcare, educational institutions (schools, universities and non-formal education institutions), and in houses of worship (as defined by the municipalities).
  • The licence will also provide the right to serve customers in outdoor conditions, at a maximum distance of 40 metres from the stationary catering establishment. However, municipal councils can limit or even ban outdoor trading hours.