Managing a drinking establishment (cafe, tearoom or other)

Last updated more than 5 years ago

When the manager of a drinking establishment has obtained the necessary authorisations and permits to open his establishment, he must fulfill certain mandatory obligations, namely in terms of:

  • public display of permits and sales prices;
  • protection of the health of minors, fight against tobacco and hygiene;
  • opening hours and payment of copyrights in the event music is played.

For further information on his obligations, the manager can contact:

  • the national federation of hotel, restaurant and cafe owners (Fédération Nationale des Hôteliers, Restaurateurs et Cafetiers du Luxembourg - Horesca), which can provide advice and assistance in all areas to its members;
  • his commune for an application for an exemption from opening hours;
  • SACEM (Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique - the society of authors, composers and music publishers), which is in charge of collecting copyright fees from cafes and restaurants.

Who is concerned

The following requirements apply to every drinking establishment serving (even if free of charge) beverages to be consumed on the premises including:

  • licensed bars (cafes);
  • unlicensed drinking establishments (non-alcoholic, e.g. tearooms, milk-bars, snack bars, etc.);
  • restaurants or accomodation establishments which also run a drinking establishment.

Preliminary steps

In order to run a drinking establishment, the operator must have:

How to proceed

Mandatory displays and prices

Displaying the business permit

The manager must indicate the following information on all letters, emails, websites, quotations, invoices and shop fronts:

  • their surname and first name / the name of the company;
  • the business permit number;
  • the business activity indicated on the business permit (e.g.: 'operators of outlets for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks');

In practice, the manager will simply display a copy of his business permit at the entrance of the establishment.

Displaying the excise stamp (vignette de contrôle accises - VCA)

The manager must display the excise stamp (VCA) in a manner visible from the outside.

Owners of bars, restaurants or accommodation establishments automatically receive the excise stamp after payment of the annual fee for the licence to sell/serve alcohol (taxe annuelle de cabaretage). It must be paid each year to the revenue department of the Customs and Excise Agency by 31 January at the latest.

Displaying prices

Every professional must display sales prices for products and services sold.

Operators of drinking establishments, restaurants or accomodation establishments must display the price inclusive of tax and service.

Legible price lists must be displayed and be visible:

  • from the outside;
  • from inside the establishment.

Meal offers must be indicated on signs or notices (bars must display the signs or notices inside the premises only).

Where the establishment has a bowling alley in separate premises, a price list must be publicly displayed in these premises too.

Prices cannot be higher than those indicated on the price list. If there is a surplus charge for service on a terrace, the charge must be clearly indicated.

Setting prices

In principle, sales prices for products and services (beverages, meals, electronic games, bowling alleys, etc.) can be freely set.

However, it must be noted that:

  • tobacco products must be sold at the price indicated on the tax stamp.
  • prices must include VAT.

Sale on credit

The manager who sells alcoholic beverages on credit to a customer for a value exceeding EUR 2.48 per month (or EUR 12.39 per 6 months) has no legal means of collecting the amounts due in case of dispute.

Moreover, lower amounts than the ones stated previously can no longer be collected by legal means 6 months after the sale.

These amounts do not apply to accomodation, lodging, food or beverages consumed during lunches or dinners.

Health, hygiene and fight against tobacco

Protection of minors

Minors that are younger than 16 years of age (or legally incapable adults), who are not accompanied by an adult of more than 18 years of age and legally in charge of them are not allowed to remain in a licensed bar.

Minors younger than 15 years of age and not accompanied by an adult may not remain in an unlicensed bar.

They may however enter a drinking establishment during special events if said events are specifically organised for minors and may also access tearooms adjacent to bakery or cake shops.

It is prohibited to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to:

  • minors younger than 16 years of age;
  • people who manifest clear signs of drunkenness.

Sanitary and hygienic requirements

Drinking establishments must have adequate ventilation:

  • either through windows that can be easily opened;
  • or, in the event of fixed windows, through a ventilation system.

The establishment must have sufficient toilets and urinals. They must be well ventilated and always kept perfectly clean.

A guide to good hygiene practices published by the Horesca and approved by the Department of Health is available in pdf format on request at the secretariat of Horesca.

Fight against tobacco

Smoking is not allowed in restaurants and in tearooms belonging to bakeries or cake shops.

Since 1 January 2014, smoking is also prohibited in drinking establishment (even in places without charge).

Operators (or their representatives) of such establishments who do not comply with the smoking ban risk being fined between EUR 251 and EUR 1,000.

They may set up a smoking room in a separate room upon authorisation by the Minister of Health.

Tobacco advertisement is prohibited (with the exception of advertising on products that are directly linked to cigarettes: lighters, ashtrays, etc.).

Opening hours and specific authorisations

Opening hours

Normal opening hours for licensed bars range from 06.00 AM to 01.00 AM the following day.

Opening hours for unlicensed bars where non-alcoholic drinks are served and to be consumed on the premises range from 06.00 AM to midnight.

Bowling alleys may be used from 08.00 AM to 11.00 PM.

Only the following people are allowed to remain in the establishment outside of normal opening hours:

  • the manager, members of his family and employed personnel;
  • travellers staying in the establishment overnight.

Authorisation for late night opening

The manager of a licensed bar may request an authorisation for late night opening (nuit blanche) from his commune in order to keep the establishment open until 03.00 AM.

The authorisation may be requested:

  • as a regular authorisation valid for certain weekdays;
  • as a regular authorisation valid for each weekday;
  • on an ad hoc basis for days to be determined by the manager.

The manager of an unlicensed drinking establishment (e.g. tearoom) may equally request a late night opening authorisation from his commune and remain open until 02.00 AM.

The authorisation may be requested:

  • as a regular authorisation valid for certain weekdays;
  • as a regular authorisation for every weekday but only during the summer season and for no more than 6 weeks in total;
  • on an ad hoc basis for days to be determined by the manager.

The authorisations may be granted where there is no risk of public disorder or disturbance, nor intolerable annoyance to residents in the vicinity of the premises.

The manager must display the authorisation for late night opening in a manner visible from the outside.

Some communes will grant a general exemption concerning applicable opening hours and automatic late night opening authorisation to every drinking establishment during certain events or festivities (e.g. Luxembourg National Holiday, etc.). No specific authorisation is required in this case.

Late night opening authorisations until 06.00 AM are subject to specific rules.

Amusement tax for games and events

All gambling is prohibited in drinking establishments.

Some communes will levy an amusement tax:

  • on games or amusement machines such as juke box, table football, pinball machines, etc.;
  • on shows and entertainments.

Playing recorded music

Drinking establishments, hotels and restaurants which intend to play recorded music for their clients and customers must request a licence for broadcasting for cafes/restaurants from SACEM.

SACEM Luxembourg will collect a licence fee destined to finance the authors of the music played in public.

The annual licence fee depends on the number of residents in the commune and the device used to play music.

Members of the national federation Horesca Luxembourg are granted a 20 % discount on general rates.

Forms / Online services

Autorisation de diffusion de musique - cafés / restaurants

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