Opening a Café in Germany: What you need to know to open your doors

Are you thinking of starting your own café in Germany? Here, you’ll find tips and information to help you open your doors sooner than you think.



We’ve helped over 15,000 businesses get started.
We can help you start your cafe faster than anyone else:



Opening a Café in Germany: Permits & Requirements

Gaststättenkonzession: Do I need a license for my café?

If you plan to offer alcoholic beverages alongside your coffee specialties, you’ll need a Gaststättenkonzession (premises licence), commonly known as a Schanklizenz (liquor license).

Typically, the following documents are required for a premises licence in Germany:

  • Pachtvertrag
    Lease agreement for your café premises
  • Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung
    Clearance certificate Finanzamt (tax office)
  • Extract from the Gewerbezentralregister (Central trade register) via your local Gewerbeamt (trade office)
  • Gesundheitszeugnis
    Health certificate from your local Ordnungsamt (municipal regulatory office)
  • Führungszeugnis
    Current police clearance certificate from the Kommunalverwaltung/Bürgeramt) (municipal administration/citizen’s office)
  • Proof of training in food hygiene according to § 4 (1) No. 4 GastG (IHK)

Infektionsschutzgesetz: Initial training in the infection protection law

Hello caterers! When you’re self-employed, it’s important to follow food safety regulations. You’ll need to show evidence of training under the Infektionsschutzgesetz (infection protection act). Your local Gesundheitsamt (health authority) will provide this.

Remember, you’ll need to refresh your team’s knowledge every two years. Keep records of these follow-up sessions for proof.

Lebensmittelhygieneverordnung: Training for food safety compliance

When opening your café, you and your staff must undergo training per the EU Food Hygiene Regulation. Your local IHK (chambers of industry and commerce) offer these courses for food businesses.

Setting up your cafe with health regulations in mind

Your café needs to meet hygiene standards. Health inspectors regularly inspect spaces that prepare food and drink.

Check your area has specific refrigeration, storage, ventilation, and sink requirements. Make sure your premises will pass official inspections to avoid unexpected costs or obstacles to your business.

Professional Requirements: Starting a Café without formal training?

Starting a café doesn’t demand a Meisterbrief (master craftsman’s certificate) or specific Ausbildung (vocational training).

However, before entering the business, it is wise to gain experience in a cafe or hospitality industry. Hands-on experience is a great learning environment, helping you understand typical work setups, time management, and customer relations.

The hospitality industry is tricky – get expert advice

Well before you open your doors, gather information and seek expert guidance, particularly for your Geschäftsplan (business plan), financing, and tax liabilities.

A solid business plan is essential for success. Making a profit in this industry is difficult at the best of times. You can’t just wing it! So, an expert consultant can be worth it. A good one can give you invaluable advice and support to help you turn a decent profit later down the track.

In terms of financing, experience in the hospitality sector can boost your chances of getting funding for your cafe.

Café know-how

What do you know about typical food and drinks? Are you knowledgeable about coffee or tea? Is your cake only enjoyed by your friends, who praise it out of politeness, or is there more to it than that? Be honest with yourself and seek outside expertise if necessary.


What are your customers/target group for your café?

  • Who should visit your café? And why? At what times?
  • Does the café appeal to a particular age group?
  • Do you serve a delicious speciality that cannot be found anywhere else?
  • Is your café an ice cream parlour?

Work on your concept before you set up and open.

Be specific when defining your target group. The project could fail if you open first and go in the wrong direction.

Want to open a café but don’t know how?
We can guide you through the 22+ steps

Business considerations

There are many business things to consider before you open your café. You will need premises, equipment and possibly staff. The location of your business can be crucial to its success. All of this must be pre-financed at the outset, as you cannot assume that all costs will be covered by your income from the outset.

Don’t have the cash to get started? External funding is your only option. You’ll need a business plan to convince financiers that your cafe is a good investment.

You will also need a realistic calculation of the costs you will incur. Preparation is the first step to opening your dream café. Newcomers to the hospitality industry often underestimate the costs of setting up a business and the initial period afterwards.


Financial plan for your café: What costs can you expect?

The financial plan is an integral part of your business plan, just like your business concept. It records the planned and estimated costs incurred during the starting up and initial stages.

Consider the following costs, among others.

  • Setting up costs with authorities and offices
  • Equipment costs for your kitchen, bar and dining area
  • Initial costs: coffee machines, furniture, crockery, glassware, decoration, etc.
  • Possible conversion costs (e.g. if you are taking over an existing café)
  • Purchase of merchandise
  • Website and advertising
  • Possible consultancy costs (accountant, etc.)


Typical running costs are:

  • Rent for your premises and other operating costs
  • Miscellaneous insurance (e.g. business, professional indemnity, social security, health and pension insurance)
  • Taxes
  • Wages of your employed service staff
  • Purchase of goods
  • Advertising costs
  • Capital to secure your livelihood


Financing: Who can help fund your café?

Getting funding from banks and investors will be easier if you have a certain amount of equity. You should also seek advice on possible subsidies, especially if you are a start-up. Your financing should rest on several pillars.

Most founders are initially dependent on debt capital. A good business idea and a professional business plan will significantly increase your chances of obtaining loans and grants. In addition to banks and private credit institutions, there are other sources of capital:

  • Bundesarbeitsagentur
    The Federal Employment Agency provides new business grants.
  • EU Startup Services
    The EU offers funding for startups and new businesses of all kinds. The EU Startup Services website provides an overview of the programmes.
  • KfW 
    The German state-owned investment and development bank, KfW, offers loans for new businesses, such as the ERP startup loan StartGeld or Universal.


How much do I have to charge for coffee? – A price calculation

If you are inexperienced in making a calculation, ask for help. Think well beyond the start-up phase and the opening. Suppose you are inexperienced in the catering industry. In that case, it is easy to be overwhelmed when calculating prices and costs. The following factors are essential when calculating prices:

  • Cost of goods
  • Overheads
  • Personnel costs
  • Profit
  • Value-added tax/sales tax

These parameters also influence the final price in detail:

  • Purchase price
  • Quality standards
  • Merchandise care
  • Losses during cleaning and food preparation
  • Recipe for meals
  • Portion size for food and drinks
  • Market and competitive situation

Ensure you get expert help with the calculation, especially at the beginning, so you are not overwhelmed by the costs.


Café as a GmbH or UG: How to legally structure your business

To fulfil your dream of owning your own café, you must first decide which legal form suits your company. Common legal forms for start-ups in the sector are the GmbH or UG. When choosing, you should also remember that the individual legal forms differ from a tax perspective.

Find out more about the possible legal forms:

There are, of course, other legal forms available to you.

Which company suits me and my business idea?

Our packages for your start-up

Checklist: Where do I have to register my café?

Handelsregistereintrag: Commercial register entry for your café

As a public register, the Handelsregister (commercial register) documents entries about the registered merchants in the area of a competent register court. The company forms GmbH and UG require an entry in the commercial register.

Gewerbeanmeldung: Trade registration for café founders

Regardless of your legal form, you must register with the trade office responsible for your Firmensitz (registered office). If you open your café as an Einzelunternehmen (sole proprietorship) or GbR, a Gewerbeanmeldung (trade registration) is enough.

After registering with the trade office, the tax office will automatically contact you for tax registration. As soon as the Finanzamt (tax office) has checked your documents, you’ll receive your Steuernummer (tax number) and be authorised to issue invoices.

IHK: Membership with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Like the tax office, the trade office will inform the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) of your new business and contact you. Membership of the IHK is mandatory when registering a business.

Berufsgenossenschaft: Employer liability insurance association for the food and catering industry


Employer liability insurance associations provide statutory accident insurance for companies and their employees. For the food and catering industry, please register independently with the Berufsgenossenschaft (employer liability insurance association). You must register with your relevant association even as a small business owner without staff. If you have any questions, contact the Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung (German social accident insurance) on 0800 60 50 40 4.

Bundesverband für das Gastgewerbe: Federal associations for the hospitality industry

Voluntary membership in a relevant Bundesverband (federal association) is a good idea. The Deutsche Hotel- und Gaststättenverband ev (German hotel and restaurant association) is an umbrella organisation for all types of hospitality businesses.

At the regional level, there are often sector-specific associations or trade organisations whose membership could interest you. Associations represent the interests of their members, offer an exchange of knowledge and experience and represent the industry to economic and political representatives.


The product range of your café

Your new business stands and falls within your product range. These should have special features. Clearly emphasise your unique selling point. These questions can help you:

  • Is your coffee from a special roast or produced using a unique process?
  • What other drinks do you offer?
  • Do you want to offer snacks and wholesome meals on your menu?
  • Does your coffee come from fair trade?
  • Additional services: Do you offer specialities such as barista courses?
  • Can your guests take the drinks with them as coffee to go?

Take plenty of time to design and consult experts.


The location of your café

What are the three most essential prerequisites for the success of a new restaurant business? Many people think location, location, location! Ideally, your shop should be on a busy street, visible to walk-in customers. Of course, competition is also an essential factor in a good location. Take your time to do thorough research.

Fundamental questions are, for example:

  • How large is your catchment area of potential customers?
  • How many other cafés, ice cream parlours or restaurants are in your catchment area?
  • Where have your competitors set up shop?
  • What products do your competitors offer?
  • Which target groups will this appeal to?

The hospitality industry is a competitive market where you must position yourself cleverly. Use the information gathered to formulate a unique strategy for your location and market niche. Market research institutes can compile individual analyses for a professional location analysis.


How to market your new café

How do you draw customers’ attention to your new café? If you are planning your advertising activities before you open your business, you should prioritise two main things: a professional website and traditional advertising for your new opening. In addition, list your business location on Google Maps and Yellow Pages free of charge.

Your café should have digital real estate too

A bright, appealing website should present your products and emphasise your niche. The homepage should include special offers, opening hours, and contact details. The website is your perfect opportunity to make an enticing first impression.

If you also opt for professional search engine optimisation, you can grab the attention of customers who are looking for a café in their area. Also, integrate social media into your starting-up process.

Targeted advertising for new café openings

Traditional advertising, such as flyers, adverts and posters, round off your initial marketing measures. Promote the opening particularly vigorously. Special opening discounts, live music or small gifts for first-time customers are welcome promotions.

Café facilities & decor

Furnishments are vital in the catering industry because you want your customers to feel comfortable. To make your café inviting, tailor the interior to your target group.

Once the building meets the health and safety code, you can plan everything else. Many suppliers offer complete furnishings for catering establishments. If you want to customise your furnishings, flea markets, eBay, and other platforms for second-hand furniture are good ways to discover your own style.

Continue browsing