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Who Must Have a Sidewalk Café License?
A business must have a Sidewalk Café license and revocable consent if it operates a portion of a restaurant on a public sidewalk.
This description is only a general explanation of which businesses need to have a Sidewalk Café license.
There are three types of sidewalk cafés:
- Enclosed sidewalk café: An enclosed area on the public sidewalk in front of the restaurant that is constructed predominantly of light materials such as glass, plastic, or lightweight metal.
- Unenclosed sidewalk café: An outdoor area on the public sidewalk in front of the restaurant that contains removable tables and chairs.
- Small unenclosed sidewalk café: An unenclosed sidewalk café containing no more than a single row of tables and chairs next to the building. The tables and chairs can occupy no more than 4 feet, 6 inches of the public sidewalk.
To learn which type of sidewalk café you can apply for, refer to the following resources:
- NYC Zoning Resolution (Article I, Chapter 4), available on the Department of City Planning (DCP) website at www.nyc.gov/dcp
- Sidewalk Café Design and Regulations Guide (download). This guide provides a general description of the types of sidewalk cafés allowed and their design guidelines.
- Street Guide (download). This guide provides a general overview of where sidewalk cafés are permitted—and where they are not permitted—in New York City.
- If you are applying for both an unenclosed sidewalk café and a small unenclosed sidewalk café, you only need to submit one application.
- If you are applying for any other combination (i.e., enclosed and unenclosed OR enclosed and small unenclosed), you must submit separate applications.
Additional City or State Permits/Licenses/Clearances You May Need
- You must be cleared of debts owed to the City before DCA can issue you a license. DCA will check for any outstanding fees or fines owed to City agencies, including the Department of Finance and Environmental Control Board.
- Your business must hold a current New York State Liquor Authority license if you plan to serve beer, wine, and/or liquor at the sidewalk café. Please note that a sidewalk café may require additional Authority approval separate from the establishment’s liquor license. Visit the New York State Liquor Authority at www.sla.ny.gov for more information.
- If you plan to build an enclosed sidewalk café, you must file an application for a work permit with the Department of Buildings (DOB). DCA will notify you by mail when you can apply for the work permit.
- If you plan to use a portable natural gas (not propane) heater in your unenclosed sidewalk café, you must receive approvals from DOB and the Fire Department (FDNY) to install and operate the heater. For convenience, DCA created Frequently Asked Questions: Sidewalk Café Heaters to help you understand the process for obtaining permission to install and operate the heater.
Before You File Your DCA License Application:
- You must confirm with the Department of City Planning at www.nyc.gov/dcp that your proposed sidewalk café meets zoning requirements. DCA cannot accept applications for a Sidewalk Café license that do not meet zoning requirements.
- You must ensure that the distance from the property line to the curb (i.e., sidewalk space) is at least 12 feet wide for the entire length of the proposed sidewalk café. DCA cannot accept applications for a Sidewalk Café license that do not meet this requirement.
- You must obtain the following required documents before filing your application.
- Applicable Business Certificates based on your Business's Legal Structure
- Sole Proprietorships operating under a name other than your own must file a Business/Assumed Name Certificate with the clerk of the county in which your business is conducted.
- Sole Proprietorships doing business under your own name—and not under a trade or Doing-Business-As (DBA) name—do not need a Business Certificate.
- General/Business Partnerships must file your Partnership Certificate with the clerk of the county in which your business is conducted.
- Corporations, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, or Limited Liability Partnerships must register and remain active with the New York State Department of State. Active status will be verified by DCA prior to license issuance. You can confirm the status of your business entity at NYS Web site. If applicable, you must also file an Assumed Name Certificate for your business.
- Businesses incorporated out of state must obtain a Certificate of Doing Business in Good Standing from your home state’s Secretary of State and file this with an application for Authority to Conduct Business in New York with the New York State Secretary of State.
When You File Your DCA License Application:
Below are requirements when filing your license application:
- Basic License Application
Online submission: After reviewing the application requirements, please click the Apply Online link at the bottom of the Web page to submit your application.
In-person submission: Download the Basic License Application Form. Note: If you file in person, you must submit seven (7) copies of the completed Basic License Application.
- Sales Tax Identification Number OR Certificate of Authority Application Confirmation Number
The Sales Tax Identification Number is the 9, 10, or 11-digit number on your New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Certificate of Authority. You must enter this number on the Basic License Application form. If you have not received your Certificate of Authority, please enter the 6-digit confirmation number you received when you successfully submitted the application for a Certificate of Authority.
To apply for a Certificate of Authority, visit the NYS License Center. You will need a NY.gov ID to access the application form. To request a paper application, call (518) 485-2889. Allow four to six weeks after applying to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to receive your Certificate of Authority.
- Business Certificate
See description above.
Attention: Corporate Applicants. If you file your application in person, DCA can print a copy of your Certificate of Incorporation and/or Certificate of Authority to Conduct Business in New York from the New York State Department of State’s website.
- Current Food Service Establishment Permit OR Permit Application from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)
You do not need to submit a copy of your permit. DCA will verify that your business holds a Food Service Establishment Permit in good standing.
Note: If you do not currently hold the permit, you can apply for both a Sidewalk Café license and a Food Service Establishment Permit at the same time. However, DOHMH must approve your permit before DCA can issue a Sidewalk Café license. For information on applying for a Food Service Establishment Permit, visit www.nyc.gov/health.
- Sidewalk Café Compliance Checklist (download)
Note: If you file in person, you must submit seven (7) copies of the completed Sidewalk Café Compliance Checklist.
- Petition for Revocable Consent (download)
Note: If you file in person, you must submit seven (7) copies of the completed Petition.
- Zero Tolerance Policy Affirmation (download)
- Personal and Property Liability Insurance for Sidewalk Café.
- Your Insurance Certificate must name the City of New York as the certificate holder. (Download sample Certificate of Liability Insurance)
- Your Insurance Certificate must be executed by a broker and list the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Number.
- Your business name and address must be exactly the same on all documents.
- The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) must be included as “Additional Insured” in the description box.
- Insurance must have an A.M. BEST (www.ambest.com) rating greater than A-.
- The policy must have the following minimum amounts:
- $100,000 per person for personal injury
- $300,000 per person for accident
- $25,000 per person for property damage
Important: You must notify DCA within 14 days if your insurance policy is cancelled, expired, or was terminated for any reason. Notification must be in writing and submitted in person OR by mail to:
Attn: Licensing Center
New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
New York, NY 10004
- Notarized Certification by Broker (download)
Your insurance broker must complete the Certification.
- Letter of Notification to Required Parties
You must submit a copy of the certified or registered mail letter of notification sent to:
- All persons who occupy ground floor property, whether residential, commercial, or other use, within 50 feet of either side of the proposed sidewalk café
- Owners of all buildings on the same side of the block as the proposed sidewalk café
- The association or board of all residential cooperatives or condominiums on the same side of the block as the proposed sidewalk café
- The New York City Department of Finance and the New York State Department of State maintain online databases that may help you identify the name and mailing address of the owner of record or the owner’s agent. For convenience, DCA created the handout Finding Name and Address of Building Owner of Record or Owner’s Agent to help you navigate these online databases.
- You are responsible for finding contact information for non-owners who occupy ground floor property within 50 feet of the proposed sidewalk café. Tip: You can address letter of notification to “Resident” with the unit number.
- Certified or Registered Mail Receipts for the Letters of Notification Sent
- Notarized Affidavit Stating Letter of Notification was Sent to All Required Parties (download)
- Photos of the Property
Submit three sets of photos of the property where the proposed sidewalk café will be located. Required photos must show one frontal, one left, and one right side view of the proposed sidewalk café.
- Photos must be keyed to the plans, i.e., there must be a direct relationship between the plans submitted by the architect/engineer and the photos.
- Photos must show the complete sidewalk area where your proposed sidewalk café will be, including the view to the curb and the views to neighboring properties, in particular their entrances.
- Sidewalk obstructions must be clearly visible in your photos. DCA accepts standard photographs, color paper copies, Polaroids, or other facsimile.
- Scale Drawings of Proposed Sidewalk Café.
Submit seven (7) copies of the scale drawing plan signed, stamped, and sealed by a licensed New York State architect or engineer.
Note: Drawings must be on 11” x 17” paper at minimum and 24” x 36” at maximum. They should include:
- Floor plan diagram at a scale no less than 1/4 inch = 1 foot
- Elevation diagram showing canopies and awning details, if any
- Plot plan, not to scale
- Building section drawing at a scale 1/4 inch = 1 foot
Diagrams must include:
- Location of tables and chairs
- Separation (if any) between pedestrian and café areas
- Any building and street furniture within 20 feet of proposed sidewalk café
- Lengths and widths of café, sidewalk, clearances, door and window openings, fire escapes, drop ladders, counterbalanced stairs
- Height of dividers
- Total number of tables and chairs
- Total square footage and table dimensions
Please refer to the Sidewalk Café Design and Regulations Guide (download
), Sections 20-223 to 20-227.1 of Title 20 of the NYC Administrative Code, and Sections 2-41 to 2-58 of Title 6 of the Rules of the City of New York for additional information.
- Notarized Landowner’s Consent to Operate a Sidewalk Café (download)
The owner OR management of the premises where you plan to operate your sidewalk café must complete this form as proof of your right to use the premises for your business.
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Approval Letter or Application Form, if applicable
If your proposed sidewalk café is located in a historic district or in or next to a landmarked building or district, you must obtain approval from LPC.
Note: If you do not currently have an approval letter, you can apply for both a Sidewalk Café license and LPC approval at the same time. However, LPC must give approval to operate your café and you must submit LPC’s approval letter before DCA can issue a Sidewalk Café license. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks.
- Child Support Certification Form (download)
If your business is a SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP or GENERAL or LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, the proprietor or each individual general partner must submit a Child Support Certification Form.
- Granting Authority to Act Affirmation (download)
If this application will be filed by someone other than the license applicant, the license applicant must submit a Granting Authority to Act Affirmation.
After You File Your DCA License Application:
Below is information you need to know after submitting your license application.
- Additional Required Fees
Below are additional required fees if you need to modify your sidewalk café after you submitted your license application to DCA. Modification of DCA consent for all sidewalk café types: $175 (credit card, check, or money order made payable to NYC Department of Consumer Affairs) City Planning Fee for Enclosed Sidewalk Café Applicants: $55 per seat with a $1,360 minimum (certified checks or money orders only, made payable to City of New York)
Before DCA can issue a Sidewalk Café license to your business, DCA must receive approval from other agencies. You cannot operate a sidewalk café until you receive approval from DCA and revocable consent from the City. Please review the flow charts for your café type below which outline the License Application Process, including timeline:
Application Filing Process
File in person at the DCA Licensing Center, 42 Broadway, in Manhattan between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you do not speak or understand English well, please let us know when you arrive at the Licensing Center and we will provide translation services.
- Please review requirements for the license and gather all materials before clicking the button below.
- If you haven’t registered an account with the City of New York, you will need to register an account before you can proceed to the online application.
- After you submit the online application, follow the instructions on the confirmation page. DCA cannot process incomplete applications.
- Important: If you need to file another license application, return to the DCA Business Toolbox to read requirements and proceed to the online application.
Additional Resources for Sidewalk Café
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