Important legal specifications in the hotel and hospitality business

Anyone who wishes to serve alcohol in their hotel or hospitality business requires a hospitality licence (with the exception of hotel businesses in which alcohol is only served to residential guests) The hospitality licence is issued by the responsible consumer protection office.
Tip: Alternatively, you can also apply for the hospitality licence via the single point of contact for Hamburg
To meet the requirements for issuing permission, proofs required include that the premises are suitable for the hotel and hospitality business (if applicable by means of construction drawings / floorplans of all business premises including the rooms intended to accommodate employees).
Note: Additional requirements for issuing permission can be found in our document titled “Gründung im Hotel- und Gaststättengewerbe” (Founding businesses in the hotel and hospitality industry”).
The licensee is responsible for ensuring that all applicable provisions are properly implemented.

General minimum requirements for spaces

Both the business premises and the rooms accommodating employees must, at a minimum, meet general specifications, in particular those concerning  immissions protection, hygiene and employment law specifications and the Arbeitsstättenverordnung (workplaces ordinance). In addition, the specifications of the Hamburgische Bauordnung (Hamburg Building Code) and possibly other regulations apply.
The following also applies for businesses providing accommodation:
a) The sleeping rooms for guests must not be within the dwelling of the trade professional or third parties.
b) Each accommodation room must have a separate accessway from the corridor.
c) The access doors must be labelled with consecutive numbers and it must be possible to lock them from the inside and out.
d) Rooms with one bed must be at least 8 square metres; for multi-bed rooms, additional floor area of at least 4 square metres is required for each additional bed. Ancillary rooms (in particular bathrooms and toilets) are not included in this calculation.


Pubs, bars and eateries must have the following toilet facilities:
Pubs, bars and eateries, in square metres For women For men
Flushing toilets Flushing toilets Standing sinks in units Or a channel, in running metres
up to 50
One flushing toilet
over 50 to 100
over 100 to 150
over 150 to 200
over 200
Determined on a case-by-case basis
In bars and restaurant with a bar, or restaurant areas up to and including 50 square metres, the obligation to set up a flushing toilet can be met through permission to share the use of the staff toilet, provided that this is not contradicted by provisions of worker protection law.
The toilets must not all be blocked by coin-operated devices or similar facilities, nor all only accessible for a fee.


The kitchen setup is aligned with the operational circumstances. Please make absolutely sure you find out in advance about the required installation of a grease trap (PDF file · 73 KB)

Lockout time rules in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

In accordance with the regulation on the lockout time in hospitality and entertainment businesses (lockout time regulation), the following regulations apply with respect to lockout times in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg:
1. The lockout time starts:
  • for pubs, bars and restaurants as well as amusement arcades, at 5am
  • for music performances, shows, entertainment performances and other outdoor recreation activities, at midnight
2. The lockout time ends at 6am
3. On Saturday and Sunday nights as well as on 1 January, and 1 and 2 May, there are no lockout times (this does not apply for outdoor events).
4. There are also no lockout times for businesses and events at fixed fairs and markets. The complete lockout time regulation as well as the Hamburg Hospitality Regulation can be found here (PDF file · 27 KB).
Note: The relevant authority can generally extend, shorten or rescind the lockout time in response to public need or if there are particular local circumstances.

Ancillary services

In accordance with Section 7 Gaststättengesetz (Hospitality Business Act) you may also give guests accessory goods and provide accessory services outside the statutory shop opening times. Here, it is entirely possible that there will be differentiations in the scope of these goods and services due to differences in nature, size and scope of services provided by the individual hospitality businesses (e.g. between a pub or bar and a luxury hotel).
Here, the legislator provides for the fact that accessory goods and services must represent a necessary and justified supplement to the main service; the provision of them is limited to guests, i.e. persons to whom a main hospitality service is also being provided.
Accessory goods and services include the following, among others:
  • Tobacco products and matches
  • Fruit
  • Confectionery
  • Picture postcards
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Tickets and timetables
In addition, in pubs, bars and restaurants these can be provided outside the statutory shop closure times and outside the lockout time for soonest consumption
  • Drinks and prepared meals that are also served on the premises
  • Bottled beer, alcohol-free drinks, tobacco and confectionery to anyone, i.e. not only to guests, for consumption off-site
The wording “for soonest consumption” is certainly malleable; as such the legislation has declared as permissible, among other items, the selling of a box of mineral water or bottled beer.
The specified options for the selling of goods in principle also affect mixed businesses which operate as both a hospitality business and retail (e.g. kiosks). For such businesses, a hospitality licence is required first of all, and is also a prerequisite for the business being able to open beyond the statutory shop closure times. The provision to guests of drinks and prepared meals for consumption on-site and of accessory goods is then possible throughout the opening hours. A retail operation that is operated in the same way is subject to the regulations of shop closure law.

Price information and specifications in the hospitality industry

In the hospitality industry, the consumer is advised of prices by means of price lists. These must be displayed in all bars, pubs and restaurants and similar businesses in which meals and drinks are offered. One important legal basis for the price information and price labelling is the ordinance on price information regulation (PAngV) dated 14 March, 1985. This sets out the most important principles concerning pricing information for offered goods and services in retail, in the services industry, and also including the hospitality and accommodation industry.
Price lists must be displayed or handed out as follows:
  • Before receiving the order or specifically on request, the price list is handed over in the form of a food or drinks menu
  • or there is a food and drinks menu on every table
  • or a food and drinks menu is displayed in another way that is clearly legible
All offerings from the respective business must be labelled. The prices stated in the price list must be final prices, i.e. any possible surcharges (e.g. value added tax) must be included.
In addition, the following specifications must be observed for the food and drinks menu design:
  1. “From to”, “approx.” and “from” price information are not permitted.
  2. Wording such as “price by weight or size” is also not permitted
  3. For drinks, the quantity offered must be stated
The price specification for alcohol-free drinks (Section 6 Hospitality Business Act) must be observed in particular:
“If serving of alcoholic drinks is permitted, alcohol-free drinks must also be served for consumption on-site on request. Of these, at least one alcohol-free drink served must not be more expensive than the cheapest alcoholic drink in the same quantity. The licensing authorities may approve exceptions for serving from vending machines.
Explanation: Regarding the wording provided, it must be noted that the wording of the legislator, i.e. here the federal government, does not provide for or even require a price comparison process on the basis of “projection” e.g. to litre prices for alcohol-free and alcoholic drinks (“relative price comparison”).
In terms of monitoring for breaches, for the legislator the absolute price (“absolute price comparison”) and not the comparative price per quantity of an alcohol-free drink is decisive. Therefore, if alcohol-free and alcoholic drinks are served in the same smallest delivery quantity (e.g. 0.25 litres), then and only in this case may the alcohol-free drink actually be not more expensive than the alcoholic drink in terms of absolute price.
If the drinks are not served in comparable quantities then, depending on the serving amount, it is sufficient if the alcohol-free drink is cheaper or not more expensive than all the alcoholic drinks in terms of absolute price.

Display of price lists

To provide customers with a better price overview, a price list must be posted up next to the entrance to the pub, bar or restaurant. The purpose of this is to the give the guest the opportunity, before entering the pub, bar or restaurant, to find out about the respective price level without difficulties. The schedule of prices only needs to show the prices for the most important offered dishes and drinks (if the pub, bar or restaurant is part of a trading operation, it is sufficient to post up a schedule of prices at the entrance to the hospitality portion of the business).
Since 1 January, 2003, owners and operators of businesses providing accommodation have only been required to post up or display at the entrance or reception of the business in a clearly visible location a schedule from which the prices for the rooms primarily offered and if applicable the breakfast price are visible. The prices stated in the price list must include the service charge and other surcharges.
If it is possible to use a telephone system, the price required for use of one fee unit must be stated near the telephone, and in the case of renting of rooms also in the room tariff schedule.

Youth protection

All proprietors must observe the specifications of the Youth Protection Act (Jugendschutzgesetz, JuSchG).
In addition, in accordance with Section 3 JuSchG, reference must be made to the current regulations of Sections 4 to 13 JuSchG by means of a clearly visible and easily legible display.

Non-smoker protection

Since January 1, 2010, there has been a general ban on smoking in hospitality businesses in which prepared meals are served. Smoking is prohibited in hospitality businesses with a guest room and a guest area of less than 75 metres square. However, this in turn requires that no prepared meals are permitted to be served. People under the age of 18 are refused entry. These hospitality businesses must be marked as such.

Parking spaces for motor vehicles and places to leave bicycles

The Hamburg Building Regulations (Hamburgische Bauordnung) state that for facilities people are expected to be travelling to and from, parking spaces for motor vehicles and places to leave bicycles must be set up in sufficient number and size. The number of parking spaces and bike spaces to be provided is geared toward the type and number of existing and expected motor vehicles and bikes used by frequent users of and visitors to the facility. In the case of gastronomic businesses, a differentiation is made for example between pubs, bars and restaurants (calculated in relation to available seats); accommodation businesses (calculated in relation to available hotel rooms); and standing restaurants (calculated based on the standing area for guests). The parking spaces and spaces for bikes must be demarcated on the business premises or on suitable premises nearby. Mandatory parking spaces and bike spaces must not be used for anything other than their intended purpose.
If it is not possible to fulfil the above specification concerning the creation of parking spaces and spaces for bikes on the premises or nearby, or only possible with unreasonable difficulty for example, the actual obligation to set up parking spaces must be met through the payment of a compensation amount to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. This payment must also be made where, due to the expected or frequent overloading of public routes in the area of the business premises or nearby traffic junctions, the creation of parking spaces is fully or partially prohibited.
The amount of the compensation to be paid is regulated in the “Act on the amount of the compensation payment for parking and bike spaces” (Gesetz über die Höhe des Ausgleichsbetrages für Stell- und Fahrradplätze (AusgleichsbetragsG)). This act states that in respect of construction projects in inner-city areas, for motor vehicles a compensation amount of €10,000 must be paid per required parking space, and €6,000 in other areas of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg; the compensation amount for bike spaces is 1/10 of these amounts in each case. Additional information on the global guideline for required parking spaces and bike spaces can be found in our factsheet concerning the parking space obligation.
Tip: Check beforehand whether, for a property that is of interest to you, the required parking spaces are already allocated or still need to be allocated. The consumer protection office responsible for the place where the business will be registered will help you determine this.

Further information

The EU Regulation on food hygiene places obligations on entrepreneurs concerning the setup, implementation and maintenance as well as constant adjustment of a HACCP/self-monitoring system. The stated specifications apply for all companies that produce or handle foodstuffs or put them into circulation.
Employees who come into contact with foodstuffs of animal origin must be instructed by the public health department before the activity is begun.
Issued by the Federal Centre for Health Education Cologne, this information sheet shares tips on preventive hygiene measures in foodstuffs processing. It also provides tips and suggestions relating to employee training.