Experiences involving food in Berlin
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These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your Experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
What are some of the basic principles?
Here is what Host Alissa recommends: “I always make sure that my kitchen is spic and span, that I only use fresh ingredients and that I tell my guests about the ingredients I use. I also ask my guests in advance about any food allergies they may have and religious or philosophical codes that I need to keep in mind when I prepare a meal to share with them.”
Do I need a special registration or license when I provide a food experience?
It depends on your particular situation.
If you prepare and serve food on premises that are publicly accessible or, as the law says, “to a specific group of people” and you perform this activity as a business, you will likely be deemed to be a food business (Speisewirtschaft) within the meaning of the German Restaurant Code (Gaststättengesetz). In that case, you will only require a general business registration (please find here our Responsible Hosting pages regarding a business registration); that is, if you don’t serve alcohol (if you serve alcohol, please also check out our pages on [Experiences involving alcohol in Berlin] because you may need to get a special license). A general business registration is for instance required for self-employed persons who serve food (even in a limited sense such as for a special event) when such an activity is deemed to be a business, i.e. when the Experience is done systematically for a certain duration, and aimed at making profits (for the criteria that the authorities use to determine if you are operating a business activity, please also see our Responsible Hosting Page on [Business Registration]).
Examples of where a person would likely be seen to be conducting activities that constitute a food business:
- I make my living as a professional chef, and want to provide special thematic weekly pop-up dinners as my Experiences and I intend to make profits with the Experiences.
- I’m a non-professional cook with a passion for food and my local area. I provide Experiences involving cooking classes and guided visits of my area and the food shops and locals chefs I love. I do this on a regular basis and this is how I make my living.
Example of where a person may not be seen to be conducting a food business:
- I’m a professional yoga instructor and I want to provide Experiences on an ad-hoc or irregular basis centering around a tour of the local healthy vegetarian and vegan organic food markets culminating in supper club evening where everyone shares the cost of the food and drinks and I have no intention to make a profit.
You should also keep in mind that, under zoning laws, the operation of a food business is only allowed in zones which allow for food business use. Locations generally already have a specific designated use. For example, some locations are intended for residential purposes prohibiting other types of use. If you want to change the purpose or allowed use, you may need to get a building or zoning license allowing such change of use (Nutzungsgenehmigung). Further, in Berlin there is also a special regulation regarding the misuse of residential property (Zweckentfremdungsverbotsgesetz und -verordnung) which largely restricts the use of residential property for other than residential purposes. In case you have questions about the zoning laws, the allowed uses of your space, or the requirement of a building license, please contact your local District Office.
Please also note that, according to the German Restaurant Code, you will require a special business license (Gaststättenerlaubnis) if you run a food business (Speisewirtschaft) and at the same time serve alcohol to your guests in course of your food Experience. You can find more information about the required special business license on the service pages of the City of Berlin. Please also take a look at our information about [Experiences involving alcohol].
What are the requirements and obligations I need to follow if I run a food business?
If you run a food business, you need to follow the rules of the German Restaurant Code and the specific Berlin rules on food businesses. For example, you need to comply with specific rules on closing times (Sperrzeiten) and building requirements. The competent authority may also impose further requirements, e.g. in order to protect guests or neighbors.
Additional general information about food businesses in Berlin and contact information for your local Office for Public Order (Ordnungsamt) can be found here. It might also be a good idea to check the website of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
For those who need to apply for a permit under the German Restaurant Code, information regarding the prerequisites, application documents, and where to file the documents in Berlin can be found here.
What are some best practices guidelines for food Experiences?
Guests’ health and safety should always come first when handling, storing, serving, or distributing food and alcohol. The following are some best practices when hosting a food Experience:
- Food safety and hygiene: You should check that the food you serve or sell is of the nature, substance, and quality which consumers would expect. You can find some useful information about food hygiene here.
- Allergies: You should always ask if Guests have allergies. There are potentially serious consequences for your guests if allergies are not addressed properly.
- Please note that additional obligations might apply in case you are a food business that is subject to the special licensing process (for further information see here).
Is there anything else I should think about?
Yes. If your experience will involve combining food with another activity (for example, a guided tour of an area), please take a look at our other information sections such as [Guiding Tours] and [Business Registration in Berlin] to check if other rules might apply to your activity. If you are in any doubt, we recommend you consult with the City of Berlin, an accountant, or legal advisor.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).
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