How to Open a Restaurant in Geneva: A Guide

How to Open a Restaurant in Geneva: A Guide
Would you like to open a restaurant in Geneva, but don't know where to start? Then this article is exactly what you need.

Table of contents

How to Open a Restaurant in Geneva: A Guide

4 Steps to Open a Restaurant in the Canton of Geneva

To open a restaurant in Geneva, you will need to comply with certain rules. In this article, we'll review the various steps and formalities involved in the opening of a business in the Geneva area.

Step 1: Training

If you have a CFC (Certificat Fédéral de Capacité) in a culinary trade, you won't need any additional training.

Without it, the "cafetier" diploma is madatory in the restaurant business. Various organizations, such as Ifage, offer a cafetier training. The PCTN (Service de police du commerce et de lutte contre le travail au noir) organizes this examination twice a year.

This examination will cover federal laws on alcohol and foodstuffs. These are supplemented by the cantonal law LRDBHD. This law, which is specific to the canton of Geneva, regulates the restaurant business, the sale of alcoholic beverages, or public events, among other things.

It also contains all the regulations concerning the general operating of your business, including laws on hygiene and the consumption of alcohol.

Step 2: Setting up the company

To open your own restaurant, you'll need to apply for an operating license. This can be obtained from the PCTN, the same organization that issues the cafetier diploma.

You have two weeks from the start of your activity to register with the Consumer and Veterinary Affairs Department (SCAV).

You will also need to choose the type of company you want to open. For more information, please refer to our article on the different types of businesses in Switzerland.

Brief overview of company types

Our expert advice

We advise you to choose a limited company, known as a Sàrl or SA. The latter are recommended because their risk is limited to the capital invested in the company.

Step 3: Compliance with legal requirements

Once you've set up your business, you'll need to comply with legal requirements concerning hygiene, both on your premises and on your equipment.

Other requirements concerning food transport, waste management and sanitary facilities must also be taken into account.

All these requirements are described in Ordinance on hygiene in food-related activities (OHyg).

Step 4: Register your business with the SCAV

The Department of Consumer and Veterinary Affairs controls the food trade in the canton of Geneva.

It is to this authority that you must declare your activity, no later than two weeks after its start. 

It is also possible to request a free inspection of your premises by this same organization, before opening your restaurant. All you have to do is attach a copy of your floor plans. Keep that in mind before finalising and opening your business.

If, however, you are planning to undertake construction work in preparation for the start of your business, you will have to pay for this service.

The SCAV also carries out unannounced hygiene checks and inspections. You will therefore need to set up a self-checking procedure within your company, in order to meet all these requirements.


In Geneva, the SCAV regularly carries out random hygiene inspections, in accordance with the Federal Law on Foodstuffs. Inspection points concern :

At the end of the inspection, a report will be drawn up. This will detail any infringements and the steps to be taken to remedy them within a given timeframe.

Budget to open a restaurant in Geneva

The total cost of opening a restaurant in Geneva is estimated to be around 100,000 francs.

You need to take into account the purchase of the business, the administrative formalities involved in setting up the company (capital) and the equipment required to run your restaurant.

Opening a restaurant as a foreigner

You can open a restaurant or any other business in Geneva even if you are not a Swiss citizen.

If your country of origin is a member of the European Union, you are authorized to open your restaurant as if you were a Swiss national, by following the steps mentioned in this article, subject to certain conditions.

If, however, your country of origin is outside the EU, you may need to apply for a visa or residence permit in order to operate your catering business.

Activity from home

Contrary to popular belief, it's not impossible to run a catering business from home. You will however need to comply with the same rules listed in this article.

Home-based activities include activities such as catering and the sale of takeaways.

However, it should be noted that home-based activities are authorized as long as they are carried out on an occasional basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

We recommend the Sàrl or SA form, which present a lower risk.

You'll need around 100,000 francs to open a restaurant in Geneva.

You will have to notify the SCAV and register your company in the commercial register.

You have two weeks from the start of your activity to declare it to the SCAV.

A CFC in a culinary trade and/or a cafetier diploma.

The PCTN is also responsible for issuing the cafetier diploma.

The PCTN issues this authorization.