Catering law

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The term restaurant law is derived from the fact that in most federal states the operation of a restaurant requires a special permit or special monitoring rules have been issued through laws and ordinances . This means that there are regularly additional special provisions within the framework of the superordinate trade law ( lex specialis ).

In addition, this term can be used to summarize all regulations from other areas of law that the operator of a restaurant has to observe beyond the general trade regulations for his specific trade. The catering law usually applies equally to accommodation establishments , especially if they operate their own public catering establishments, although there may be special legal provisions relating to the accommodation itself. The sum of these regulations could be brought together under the term gastronomy law, which is not in use.

Transition to state legislation

In the course of the federal reform of 2006, the federal states in Germany were given the legislative competence for catering law. The Federal Catering Act of May 5, 1970 remains valid, unless a country uses its competence by enacting its own catering act. So far, the federal states of Baden-Württemberg , Brandenburg , Bremen , Hesse , Lower Saxony , Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt , Thuringia and the Saarland have enacted their own restaurant laws as state law. The other states have retained the Federal Catering Act and, as before, regulate its implementation through their own catering ordinances.

In terms of content, the transition from federal to state law changes little in terms of the basic structure. There are differences in particular in the various regulations on the protection of non-smokers , which are usually regulated in other state laws outside of the GaststättenG with corresponding smoking bans , and often in the fact that only a notification / registration is required with the authority and duty of the supervisory authority to check the trade for reasons for prohibition .

Catering Act

Basic data
Title: Catering Act
Abbreviation: GastG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Commercial administrative law
References : 7130-1
Original version from: April 28, 1930
( RGBl. I pp. 145, 146)
Entry into force on: July 1, 1930
New announcement from: November 20, 1998
( BGBl. I p. 3418 )
Last revision from: May 5, 1970
( BGBl. I p. 465 )
Entry into force of the
new version on:
May 10, 1971
Last change by: Art. 14 G of March 10, 2017
( Federal Law Gazette I pp. 420, 422 )
Effective date of the
last change:
January 1, 2018
(Art. 17 G of March 10, 2017)
GESTA : D062
Weblink: Text of the law
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.
Catering Act of April 28, 1930

The restaurant laws regulate in particular the requirements for the granting, refusal, revocation or withdrawal of a restaurant permit (concession) or permit and the scope of the permit, possibly subject to conditions or conditions. The procedure is regulated in the state catering ordinances or laws with the required evidence.

Restaurant permit (concession)

In German federal states that have not enacted any state law regulation, the following applies: According to Section 2 Paragraph 2 GastG (apart from registering a business and other requirements, for example under building law ), permission is not required for anyone who (merely) has non-alcoholic beverages, free samples, Prepared meals or, in connection with an accommodation facility, drinks and prepared meals are given to house guests. The permit is given to the trader personally; if you want to be represented in it, you must apply for a proxy permit. When taking over an existing business, a provisional permit (e.g. Section 11 GastG) is usually issued and the following procedure does not necessarily include a building law review.

Conditions of a permit are usually the presentation of a certificate of good conduct , a clearance certificate of the tax office and the evidence of catering and food regulatory expertise or proper training / instruction, which as the Chambers of Commerce perform.

Reliability of the operator

In addition to the general reliability requirements of trade law, the GastG has special requirements: Unreliable according to § 4 GastG is, for example, those who “are devoted to drinking” or have fear of “promoting alcohol abuse, stolen goods or forbidden gambling” . In the case of proven or expected unreliability, the restaurant permit is to be refused or subsequently withdrawn.

This additional personal characteristic according to restaurant law can mean a constant threat to the innkeeper's business base. The concept of unreliability is not unambiguously legal, but above all more precisely determined by case law. While tax arrears, the withholding and misappropriation of social security contributions or convictions for not inconsiderable criminal offenses clearly lead to the presumption of unreliability, such a presumption could be constructed in the hospitality industry even after an accumulation of administrative offenses (noise pollution, nonsmoker protection) or inattentiveness after alcohol abuse by individual guests.

Special provisions

Regardless of whether a catering establishment is subject to a permit, a large number of other regulations apply to it. As with all commercial enterprises, European law , federal, state and local law can trigger legal consequences, such as a statute on waste disposal . In this respect, the term catering law encompasses a broad and, for some landlords, perhaps confusing field that is constantly changing and difficult to put into definitive categories. If in doubt, it is advisable to contact the local trade supervisory authority , the trade office and the IHK .

Food law

In the food law a number of provisions enshrined that serve mainly to protect consumers against deception and food safety (hygiene).
This particularly applies to the form and content of the menus with which the offer is made public and the foods placed on the market are labeled. In order to avert danger, the handling of food, its production, processing and delivery is regulated. The landlord, as a food business
operator, has to tolerate controls according to § 42 LFGB and to assist the inspectors and provide information. This control is the responsibility of the food control authorities as police authorities, in some federal states these are the health authorities .

With the Food Hygiene Ordinance , which was valid until 2007, food business operators were assigned comprehensive responsibility within the framework of the concept of hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), as also regulated throughout Europe by Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 . The entire area of ​​operational hygiene, food traffic, storage and processing as well as waste disposal must be permanently monitored within the framework of appropriate internal controls and, above all, documented in a comprehensible manner. In particular, the tracing of all food used to the respective supplier must be guaranteed at all times. In the meantime, food hygiene is largely regulated by directly applicable EU law, while the LMHV only contains general requirements for hygiene and training as well as special federal German regulations, for example for small quantities such as the handling of meat from hunters or fishermen.

Compliance with and documentation of these hygiene standards, the implementation of personnel instructions and the correct implementation of general commercial regulations are unannouncedly checked by the trade supervisory authority or the local food inspection authority. All business documents required for traceability, such as delivery notes and the documentation of the self-inspection, must be kept ready for inspection at all times. The frequency of these controls in Germany depends on the assessment of the risk situation, on average they take place once a year. In the interests of extended consumer protection, there is an increasing demand for such control results to be published.

Protection of minors

The Youth Protection Act regulates the sale of alcohol and tobacco products to young people. It also contains age-related and permanent residence bans for various age groups, the compliance and monitoring of which the operations manager is responsible for. The presence of publicly accessible gaming machines can lead to further control obligations. Furthermore, there is an obligation to display a current version of the JuSchG in the restaurant, whereby the publicly available free text form is sufficient ( § 3 JuSchG).

The Youth Labor Protection Act contains general protective regulations for the employment of young people, as well as the training law.

Building law

The structural condition of the business is subject to special regulations in the catering sector, while the general requirements for commercial operations continue to apply. Often there are separate restaurant building regulations. The regulations as a whole can differ locally, but always relate to the scope and equipment of toilet facilities to be provided, immission control measures (mainly noise, ventilation and fume hoods), fire protection systems and their maintenance, escape routes and their maintenance, provision of parking spaces and the installation of advertising systems. In addition, there may be special use of public areas for outdoor catering.

The basic requirements are usually checked when a new restaurant is built and, after approval, enjoy a certain degree of protection , especially in connection with the applicable development plan . The maintenance of the required operational readiness of the prescribed systems is incumbent on the operator and is checked regularly.


The Infection Protection Act regulates in § 42 , § 43 IfSG employment bans for kitchen staff, but also for all other people who come into contact with "food (...)" insofar as they suffer from certain contagious diseases. In case of doubt, these regulations affect all employees who have customer contact. This group of people must be able to prove that they have been instructed by the health department or an authorized doctor before they are employed . The employer must renew this annually and document it in writing. The health certificates customary before the introduction of the IfSG 2001 continue to apply without restriction ( Section 77 IfSG).

The provisions of immigration law , especially in labor law, are particularly strictly monitored in the catering industry. However, there are numerous special regulations on work permits for seasonal specialists and specialty chefs.

Copyright / GEMA

Regarding the reproduction of music, television or video presentations, the provisions of copyright law and the interstate broadcasting agreement must be observed. Especially the GEMA and the post service stop here a special attention to the gastronomy. A sound and image reproduction in the context of special events can also be chargeable if it takes place in closed societies. In any case, not only the organizer but also the operator himself is always obliged to reimburse and provide evidence to the collecting societies.

Occupational health and safety and works council

The general regulations regarding occupational health and safety and the works council must be observed, but due to the special working hours there are various exceptions. The broad, general notice and information obligations towards the workforce lead to complaints again and again because of the high density of controls.

It is currently unclear whether the health protection of employees can or will lead to nationwide smoking bans in gastronomy because of the sole legislative competence that exists here .

Regulatory law / blocking period

The general blocking time that used to protect the night's sleep has now been lifted in most federal states in favor of a remaining cleaning hour between 05:00 and 06:00 in the morning. Contrary to the previous procedure, in which the operator had to apply for exemption regulations, this freedom can be permanently restricted by the local authorities for reasons of noise protection.

Until March 2009, the operator of a restaurant had to announce the first and last name of the owner or lessee by means of a clearly legible sign on the entrance door, § 15a GewO old version


In Switzerland, German restaurant law has its counterpart in the hospitality laws of the cantons , which are responsible for catering .

Individual evidence

  1. Lower Saxony Licensing Act (NGastG) , accessed 19 April 2012
  2. Law on restaurants in the Free State of Saxony (Sächsisches Gaststättengesetz - SächsGastG) of 3 July 2011
  3. ^ Restaurant Act of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (GastG LSA) of August 7, 2014, GVBl. LSA p. 386 ( Memento of the original dated August 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 601 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. §12 GastG
  5. IHK leaflet on disclosure requirements for the transferable example of Magdeburg  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. pdf@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  6. Legal discussion on the concept of unreliability in commercial law ( memento of the original from October 21, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. § 44 LFGB
  8. a b Overview of individual catering regulations as a pdf
  9. On the process and organization of food controls  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  10. For the discussion on the publication of control results and principles of food monitoring foodwatch pro [1] and contra [2]
  11. Example: Bavarian GastStBauVO

Web links