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The State (Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism) and the Autonomous Communities (Registry of Tourism) are responsible for the general regulations for restaurants, cafés and bars In Spain. The respective town halls monitor the compliance with urban regulations, building, hygienic and sanitary conditions, etc. as well as the outside areas, i.e. terraces.

What must a restaurant or bar clearly show?

Restaurants and bars must clearly show the following signs:

  • the opening times and, if applicable, the opening times of kitchen and diner,
  • the allowed capacity.
  • Complaint form (“Libro de Hojas de Quejas y Reclamaciones”),
  • that the consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages to minors is prohibited,
  • that it is prohibited to dispense tobacco to minors,
  • that it is prohibited to smoke inside the restaurant or bar,
  • the restaurant’s licence number and
  • if so, that payments by credit card are accepted and of which company.

Prices

Restaurants must clearly show their prices inside and outside the premises while bars must show the prices inside their premises. Prices always must be complete prices: by law, they must include the VAT and any other costs for the consumer.

When there are different prices depending on where the meal or the beverage is taken (inside the restaurant, on the terrace, at a table or at the bar), it must be clearly indicated in the price list. If the restaurant offers pieces at prices by weight (for example a whole fish), the client must be informed about the exact price of the whole piece, not only an approximate price or just the price per kilo. Prices ‘according to the market’ (“S.M.” or “S.P.M.”) are not allowed.

Invoice or ticket

Prices on the invoice or ticket must be the same as indicated in the price lists.

All restaurants are obliged to give an invoice with all necessary data. Cafés must only give a proof of the price and products consumed.

Price list

The price list must be written in Spanish, however, depending on the category of the restaurant and/or its location (tourist region, for example) also in English and French. The price list must include allergen information for every meal offered (EU-Regulation No 1169/2011).

The price list must be shown to the client before offering a service.

If the waiter offers bread or an aperitif, which the client did not ordered nor has been informed of its price before, the client can request that it is withdrawn and not charged. Every extra must be specified in the price list, if the restaurant wants to charge it.

Possible complaints

If the meal is not eatable, i.e. it is too salty, burned or too spicy), the client can ask for its removal and the plate to be changed.

The restaurant must show at the entrance door that they accept credit card payments and they must inform by another sign when such payments are not possible, so that the client is informed in advance.

If something happens to the client during the stay in the restaurant (the waiter stains the clothes with wine, for example, or the client gets injured), the restaurant is responsible for the damages caused.

How to present a claim

For the client, it is important to have as much proof as possible (photos, documents, witnesses etc., possible police and/or sanitary assistance) to substantiate the complaint.

The first step will be to talk with the waiter about what is not correct. If the waiter refuses to make concessions, or cannot make any, the client should ask for the person who can make such a decision (the owner or manager of the restaurant, for example).

Furthermore, the client can present a claim to the Junta de Andalucía. Each restaurant or bar must have complaint forms (“hojas de reclamación”) which he can ask for in case of non-fulfilment by the establishment. The complaint forms are written in Spanish and English. The client fills it out and let it sign by the restaurant. The client and the restaurant keep their copies. The original must be sent by the client to or presented at the Dirección General de Turismo of the Junta de Andalucía together with all the proof (photos, documents, etc) he thinks will be convenient and helpful. The deadline is one month. The client will receive an acknowledgment of receipt from the authority within 15 working days. The authority will notify the restaurant which then has 10 working days to reply. If necessary, a procedure is initiated, and the client will be informed of the result of the procedure.

The client can also complain additionally at a local consumer office (“Oficina Municipal de Información al Consumidor (OMIC)”) or at any consumer association, like OCU or FACUA.