Applying for a permitHow long will the process take?How much will it cost?Frequently Asked Questions

How to apply for a permit

The application form

You can apply online for a Permit for an Outdoor Dining Area.

The following information is to assist you in your application.

About your business

The application process will ask you about how you want to use the land for outdoor dining. You will be asked to select one of three categories (shown in Table 1) that best apply to your business proposal.


  • Everything is packed away.
  • Everything on outdoor public land is packed inside a shop-front or removed from site at the end of trading hours. For example: tables, chairs, planter boxes, umbrellas, heaters and bins are all packed away.


  • Some objects remain outside i.e. furniture and objects can be taken away but some are generally left outside after trading hours.
  • This means the elements left outside may be secured or bolted to the ground. These items are able to be removed with limited mechanical assistance within 48 hours.


  • Objects and structures permanently remain on premises. 
  • Some objects are fixed permanently to the area and involve construction of some kind e.g. a stage, installation of a feature, and cannot be removed within 48 hours.
  • DA required

If you think your business proposal is one associated with a Complex category, it is strongly recommended that you first contact an assessing officer on (02) 6207 3000 to discuss your application. This category requires a Development Application (DA) which is a more extensive process than just the permit.

About You

Under the Public Unleased Land Act 2013, the suitability of the applicant is taken into consideration. In particular, consideration is given to whether the applicant has offences or convictions for non compliance with a previous permit; substantial damage to Territory property, or unsafe behaviour that may be relevant to running a café or restaurant. 

Should any concerns be raised, a government officer will contact you. 

About the site

The suitability of your site and proposed outdoor dining activity will be considered in terms of:

  • Does the proposal inhibit access for people with disabilities?
  • Is pedestrian access and movement convenient and safe, both for patrons and the general public?
  • Is the site safe from traffic and does it allow access for maintenance and emergency vehicles?
  • Is the ground suitably safe and level? 
  • Does the site interfere with neighbouring premises, including deliveries or access? 
  • Is there any street furniture and infrastructure that will need to be removed?
  • Do the proposed objects affect critical sightlines for vehicles or pedestrians?
  • Do the proposed objects block public thoroughfares or entry points for public activities?
  • Do the proposed objects, if anchored into the ground, provide a pedestrian hazard when not in use?
  • Is the total length less than 12 metres?
  • Is it within required clearance distances from roads, kerbs, the water-edge and shopfronts (see Appendix B).

You will need to provide a plan drawn to scale. The plan does not need to be professionally drawn but must clearly show the location, boundaries and dimensions of the area you wish to use. 

What insurance is required?

Public liability insurance is required for the area to be used for outdoor dining. You will need to provide a copy of your insurance as part of your application. This includes a copy of your current public liability insurance for your lease.  Proof of a Certificate of Currency (Public Liability Insurance) for a minimum of 20 million dollars ($20,000,000), specifically covering the area occupied by the outdoor café or restaurant, indemnifying the ACT Government against all claims, is required.

Supporting documentation checklist 

  • Copy of Liability Insurance
  • A plan drawn to scale

These documents must be uploaded online when completing your application electronically. Please ensure you have them ready before commencing your application.

Your application will not be assessed until this information is received.

We may contact you to seek further information (see the FAQs for additional information that may be required as part of the Assessment Process).

The Assessment Process

Once your application has been submitted online you will be sent an email acknowledging receipt of your application. 

Public Consultation

When public land is used for commercial outdoor dining purposes, public consultation may be required prior to issuing a permit, if the activity is determined to have a significant impact on people within the location or nearby places.

You may berequired to display a sign to advise passers-by of the proposed use of the land for 15 business days.

The Notice must include:

  • The proposed times for the permit;
  • The proposed activity;
  • That a written statement can be made about how the use of the land may have a significant impact on anyone nearby.

Access Canberra will also place a public notice with the above information on the ACT Open Government website on your behalf. All ACT public notices can be accessed on the Open Government website. Alternatively, you may publish the notice yourself in the Canberra Times. Please advise Access Canberra of your intention to publish at the time of application.

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