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Guest House Management | 4 essential licenses for your guest house

By Anna Malczyk

If you are interested in this topic, take a look at our University of Cape Town Guest House Management course.

Running a guest house requires that you comply with all manner of laws and regulations – everything from transport licenses and tourism certificates to health and safety standards. It can be challenging to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork in place, and the risks of not complying are severe.

Guest HouseLicenses are important documents that allow you to do certain things on your property after you have been certified by the relevant authorities. You are always required to obtain a license before you start performing the activity it regulates – you may not drive your guests around before you have a transportation license, for example. In some cases, the license is a prerequisite for starting your business: a trade license, for example, is vital for a bed and breakfast.

Here are four licenses that you need to have but may not have heard about.

Trade license
If you sell or serve food at your establishment (and many, like bed and breakfasts, are obliged to), you will need to have a trade license. Trade licenses are usually issued by the local municipality and are there to control and supervise establishments that serve food. Your guest house will be inspected by a variety of departmental representatives and if everything complies with the relevant laws, you will be grated your license. Contact your local municipality to find out exactly what rules apply to your area.

CocktailsLiquor license
In addition to a trade license, you also need a liquor license if you want to sell or serve alcohol of any kind (even for free). These licenses are issued by provincial liquor boards, and you should contact the one in your province to get detailed information about what is required. Liquor licenses come in a variety of types, and you will most likely need a consumption retail liquor license to cover serving alcohol to your guests. The application process can take as long as ten to twelve months, and liquor licenses need to be renewed annually.

SAMRO music license
If you play music of any kind in your establishment where the public can hear it – background music during dinner, television in shared or private rooms, and so on – you need to obtain a license from the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO). Contact SAMRO for an application form. The license fee is calculated based on several contextual factors and is paid annually. Aside form paying this fee, you are also required to submit a list of the music you play at your establishment, so that SAMRO can pay the correct royalties to the musicians whose music you are using.

Business TV license
Every TV set in your establishment needs its own TV license. These licenses can be obtained from the SABC, and you will need one before you buy a TV – the retailer will ask to see it. The business TV license costs the same as a domestic one, but the difference is that each TV must be licensed separately in the case of a business. If you belong to a tourism association, you may be able to get a discount on the TV licenses. Enquire with the SABC and your association to see which prices apply to you.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.


#1 2012-04-20 16:02
With regards to liquor license, there are actually several responsible alcohol retailing license courses that are offered online and used for people to get their needed training and license to operate.
#2 2013-11-19 15:52
Where / how can I find out if a guest house has a trading licence?

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