Northern Ireland Tourist Board

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Tourist accommodation start up advice

Laurel Villa Boutique Guest House

What do I need to consider?

Owning and running your own tourist accommodation business can be very rewarding but there are many things you should consider before starting. The following information is designed to give you an insight into starting a tourist accommodation business and to make you aware of the important legal obligations you must adhere to in operating a tourist accommodation premises in Northern Ireland

Firstly there are a number of very important legal considerations in relation to becoming a tourist accommodation provider and you must comply with all relevant legislation, in particular the Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992. This stipulates that all tourist accommodation providers must receive certification from Tourism NI before they are allowed to begin operating. It is illegal to offer tourist accommodation in Northern Ireland without a certificate from Tourism NI.

Starting any business can be difficult. The following documents provide advice and guidance on the requirements for starting a tourist accommodation business.  If after reading this information you decide you would like to proceed you can access the relevant application forms at tourismni.com/forms

Tourism NI encourages providers to apply as early as possible for certification, as it can take up to eight weeks to facilitate visit appointments.

Accommodation start-up packs
Tourism NI has developed a series of comprehensive start-up guides for the eight different tourist accommodation categories that are certified by Tourism NI. 


Additional statutory requirements
In order to become a certified tourist accommodation provider there are important legal aspects you have to consider. You must ensure that you comply with the fire safety legislation relevant to your premises. Environmental health clearance may be required from your local council and where necessary planning permission will be needed from your local planning office. Also where appropriate, if your premises has a private water supply, it must be registered with the Northern Ireland Drinking Water Inspectorate.

For more information on these requirements please see the legal and licensing section or visit the following websites:  

The certification process from the completion of application through to the issue or notification of refusal of a certificate normally takes up to eight weeks. Please note that tacit consent will not apply for reasons of public safety.

Certification application form
Once you have the appropriate statutory requirements in place you can complete and submit your certification application online here or by downloading and completing the following application:

Application form for statutory inspection to allocate a statutory category  

Tourism NI encourages providers to apply as early as possible for certification, as it can take up to eight weeks to facilitate visit appointments.

Once you have completed this form please post it along with the relevant inspection fees to Tourism NI's Quality & Standards Unit, Floors 10 -12, Linum Chambers, Bedford Square, Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7ES.

Further information
For more information on statutory inspections, fees and schedules, and tourist accommodation categories please see Tourist Accommodation Certification.

Find out more information on Green Tourism, the Green Tourism Scheme or to download Tourism NI's Guide 'Going Green'