Requirements to open a restaurant in Panama

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Thinking of starting a business? To begin with, we must take into account the legal framework that governs the country where it will be operating, for whatever reasons and regardless of its size or concept. Next, you will find in a simple way the Requirements to open a restaurant in Panama.

We invite you to read us and also learn about the additional permits for this type of company.

Requirements to open a restaurant

Opening a business or company in Panama can be very simple, if the requested documents are presented. In the instances or authorities attached to Panama Emprende, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the General Directorate of Income of Panama, we suggest you be assisted and advised by a lawyer from the Republic of Panama, knowledgeable of the laws with Regarding your benefits, duties and rights as an entrepreneur of the branch to perform:

  • Restaurant name and logo
  • Commercial Registry
  • business licenses
  • A place to work

¡And eager to succeed!

Types of permits to open a restaurant

  • Sanitary Permit Application
  • Operation permit
  • Permits for employees or collaborators (Health Certificate)
  • Liquor license

Panama Labor Law

Labor relations are provided for in the Labor Code of 1971, where the rights and duties of employees and employers are specified. No matter how small your restaurant is, it must have at least two (2) workers or employees, who are protected with minimum rights and benefits:

written employment contract, It is signed by each employee or collaborator. It is filed with the Ministry of Labor and Labor Development.

Minimum salary, approximately every two years there is an increase in salary, establishing a minimum wage. No person hired can earn less than what is required by law.

Maximum working day: The daily and weekly shift is according to the worker’s schedule, which can be day, night or mixed.

Holidays: The law stipulates 30 days of paid annual vacation, which does not include holidays.

Layoffs: There are grounds for justified and unjustified dismissal for which a compensatory payment is established. During the 2 consecutive years after the signing of the contract, the company has the power to fire the worker, after this period the worker becomes protected by the labor law of this nation.

In the case of hiring foreign personnel, a maximum of 10% of the payroll is contemplated for foreigners and with a work permit, it can be increased to 15% when technical or specialized personnel are required that do not exist in Panama, for this A permit must be processed for each worker.

tenancy law

Before locating the site for the operation of the restaurant, you must consider some aspects in the services that

will lend the restaurant in addition to an excellent menu.

In the case of liquor sales, the location must be removed at a minimum distance of 500 meters from colleges, schools and educational institutions, nor can it be located in residential areas if you use music with high volume until very late at night. .

In leased or rented premises, it is very important to know the duties, rights and scope of the Leasing Law, to prevent any of the parties from being harmed in the future.

For more information on LAW 93 (10.04.1973), where measures are issued on leases and the General Directorate of Leases is created in the Ministry of Housing, you can access

Steps and procedures

In the following portals Panama Undertakes Y Panama Processesthe institutions and procedures for each of the following steps are shown, they are of great help:

  1. Hire public accountant and lawyer
  2. Set restaurant name and logo
  3. Trademark registration (protect trade name and logo)
  4. Define commercial company for restaurant registration
  5. Rent premises to function
  6. Get Social Security Enrollment
  7. Get (RUC, NT and NIT)
  8. Fumigation certificate
  9. Sanitary Permit Application
  10. Permits for employees or collaborators
  11. Request for Notice of Operation
  12. Liquor license

What kind of companies can a restaurant register with?

The definition of the commercial company is an important point, we suggest seeking advice from law firms or accredited persons for handling the requirements, since it has legal and fiscal implications or repercussions, the existing ones are:

  • Natural person
  • Legal person
  • Collective Society, being able to be General or Limited Liability
  • Public Limited Company: National or foreign

Sanitary permit application requirements

When permission is requested for the first time:

  • Public Registry of the company duly notarized
  • Location plans approved by the Ministry of Health.
  • Description of processes, equipment and utensils
  • Official health inspection report
  • Manual of good practices

For Renewal:

  • Public Registry of the company duly notarized
  • Official health inspection report
  • Report of renovations that have been made to the premises where the restaurant operates, if applicable
  • Manual of good practices
  • Extension of Activities, if warranted

Both cases will be processed before the responsible Health Center, in the area where the restaurant is located.

Employee Permits

Every person involved in the preparation or service of food and beverages, including owners and administration, is required to obtain the Health Card or Certificate, issued by the Ministry of Health, consisting of:

  1. A medical and dental certificate issued by a public health center (hospital) . This certificate is also known as a white card. It is valid for one year, so renewal is requested annually.
  2. A health and safety certificate issued after attending a two-day course and obtaining a white card. This certificate is known as the health training card or popularly the green card. It is renewed every 5 (five) years.

Liquor license

This license is known in Panama as «Recommendation for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages at Retail».

Among the basic requirements we find:

  • Lease agreement (copy) if applicable.
  • Complete the form of the Tourism Authority of Panama, with details of the company and the commercial activity to be carried out
  • Menu or menu of food and drinks (copy)

It is important to note that there are prior authorizations for the application of this recommendation. In the case at hand, it influences the investment amount, when it is starting, different amounts both in the cities of Panama and Colón with the rest of the country; if it is already in operation, the recommendation request is conditional on the income of the restaurant.

One of the prerequisites, the law establishes that the business must be located at a distance of no less than 500 meters from schools, schools and/or any educational institution.

A certificate will be issued by the local authority and corroborated by the Ministry of Education for the issuance of the second certificate by the Ministry.

Once both 500-meter certificates have been processed, they must appear before the Municipal Authority to request the liquor license.

Benefits of opening your own business

Here I remember a phrase «dreams in the sky and feet touching the ground.» And it is clear that having our own business makes us happy, but we must be responsible and realistic, because there are advantages and disadvantages.

These advantages can be independenceeconomic and time; high incomedepend on the effort and strategies you use; enlargement knowledgeYou will perform roles such as a publicist, administrator, janitor and even a psychologist; you will collaborate with him development of the economy of your country, you will be a creator of jobs and new assets.

Among the disadvantages we can find:

lack of benefitsyou will not enjoy vacations, holidays, absences due to illness.

The loss of timewith few employees, you will be in your premises throughout the day and more, organizing and solving.

increased responsibilitiesthe responsibilities with the law will be greater and you must keep up to date: taxes, salaries, insurance, financing.

The benefits depend on the wisdom and reality with which you have reflected the expectations in your business plan or project, quantifiable economically, as in personal satisfaction, generating well-being in you and in those around you.

since you have the Requirements to open a restaurant in PanamaGo ahead and set up your business.

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