Codes and Licenses

Do the right thing

Your business may have started off with you serving friends and family a couple of drinks and the occasional plate of food in the back room of your house and that was okay.

With it not being an “official business”, you may have been a bit lax about adhering to the laws when it came to health codes and the licenses legally necessary for a business. But times have changed; as you expand your business, it is of utmost importance that you get clued up as to what is allowed and what could potentially get your business shut down!


It is of utmost importance that you get clued up as to what is allowed and what could potentially get your business shut down!

You simply cannot do as you please when you run a business: something easy to forget when you get requests from customers and are faced with the temptation to make an extra rand. The reality is most of the activities you will conduct in your tavern or shebeen need a license. We look at some of the major ones:

Business license

From the minute you decide to conduct commercial business from your premises, you must apply for a business license in terms of the Businesses Act (1991). This is particularly important if you will be selling food from your premises.

Health and Safety license

No one wants a reputation for making your customers ill! To this end you must ensure that as an establishment you strictly follow the Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises and the Transport of Food under the Health Act (1977).

In order to keep your Health and Safety license, your business will be subject to regular inspections from the health department, and a certificate of compliance will be issued when your establishment is deemed acceptable.

Liquor license

Before you open your doors for business and start selling alcohol you have to have a liquor license – these are granted and managed at a provincial level so be sure to keep up to date with the laws of your province.

Sound and Music

This is one that most people forget about but is just as important as the others. You can’t just pull out a playlist and entertain the crowd as, according to the law, playing someone’s music to the public without being properly licensed to do so is tantamount to stealing. As a tavern owner you need a license from SAMRO (the Southern African Music Rights Organisation) – this is for the copyright of the composition and lyrics songs you play. The royalties that you pay for the license will be distributed by SAMRO to music publishers and songwriters.

  • A license from SAMPRA (the Southern African Music Performance Rights Association) – this covers the copyright in the recorded version of the song, and your royalties will be distributed by SAMPRA to certain record companies.

The admin to comply with these regulations might seem tedious but you can rest assured that once you are up to code and properly licensed, your business will be ready to operate and make profits without any threat of closure or imprisonment from the authorities.

Should you require further information, contact your local municipality or the following bodies:-

Gauteng Liquor Board

124 Main St, Johannesburg, 2001

011 355 8000


152, Braam Fischer Drive, corner Republic Avenue Randburg, 2125
011 789-5784 or 0861 SAMPRA


20 De Korte St, Braamfontein Johannesburg, 2001
011 712 8000

City of Johannesburg Municipality (For Business and Health Licenses)

158 Civic Boulevard, Braamfontein, Johannesburg 

Tel: 011 407 6111