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Outdoor cafes

Cafe proprietors need to apply for a permit to operate an outdoor cafe.

The City of Melbourne assesses all applications for permits and monitors the operation of outdoor cafes. An audit and compliance program ensures all operators are aware of their permit requirements and responsibilities in maintaining safety, access and amenity of the public space.

The City of Melbourne, in conjunction with the Melbourne Hospitality Advisory Board, has compiled the Hospitality toolkit to help you prepare as much as possible.The toolkit contains tips and suggestions, practical guides and informative links so that you can be part of the strong hospitality sector within the municipality that creates benefits for the whole city.

How to apply for an outdoor cafe permit

1. Download and complete the application:

Please note, in accordance with the City of Melbourne Outdoor Café Guide, the application processing time is estimated at 8 to10 weeks, or longer if the application is incomplete or is subject to the residential consultation process.

2. Return your completed form and $50 non-refundable application fee using one of the following options:

In person to:
Council House 1
Level 4, 200 Little Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

By mail to:
Street Trading
City of Melbourne
PO Box 1603
Melbourne VIC 3001

By fax to:
Fax: 9658 9931

Please note: cash payments can only be made at the Melbourne Town Hall, 90–130 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000. Cheques for $50 (non-refundable) should be made payable to City of Melbourne.

Outdoor cafe fees

The permit is issued for a 24-month period. Existing permit holders can re-apply every two years.

 Permit fees  Annual rate  Equivalent 24 month rate
Swanston Street  $69.18 per square metre  $138.36 per square metre 
 Lygon Street  $50.46 per square metre  $100.92 per square metre
 CBD 1  $33.55 per square metre  $67.10 per square metre
 CBD 2  $33.55 per square metre  $67.10 per square metre
 AREA 3  $15.64 per square metre   $31.28 per square metre

  • Swanston Street precinct – Swanston Street from Flinders Street to Grattan Street
  • Lygon Street precinct – Lygon Street from Victoria Parade to Elgin Street, including area Cardigan Street to Drummond Street, from Queensberry Street to Elgin Street
  • CBD 1 precinct – east of Swanston Street to Spring Street, Flinders Street to Victoria Parade
  • CBD 2 precinct – west of Swanston Street to Spencer Street, Flinders Street to La Trobe Street, including William Street  to Peel Street to Victoria Parade
  • AREA 3 precinct – all other areas including Docklands

Outdoor Cafe Guide and permit conditions

The Outdoor Cafe Guide came into effect on 1 February 2008. This document supersedes the Kerbside Cafe Code 2003.

The guide provides improved management principles, strong decision making criteria and best practice standards for outdoor cafes now and in the foreseeable future. It provides details on the application requirements, assessment processes and criteria that must be satisfied before a permit is issued.

All outdoor cafe permit holders must comply with all conditions on the application form, the outdoor cafe permit and the Outdoor Cafe Guide. 

View the Outdoor cafe permit conditions.

Mini guides

Also available are eight mini guides that cover areas of particular interest: 


As part of the application process you must provide complete details, including photographs or architectural drawings and measurements, of each item proposed for use within the outdoor cafe.

The list of suppliers provided here may help you complete the application for an outdoor cafe. However, we suggest that you do not purchase any item until a valid Outdoor Cafe Permit is issued.

The list is not a recommendation or endorsement of the suppliers. The City of Melbourne is not responsible for the goods or services that are offered by the suppliers or for any loss, damage or injury incurred or sustained by you or any person as a result of use or reliance on the information.

List of suppliers

For more information contact the City of Melbourne on 03 9658 9658.

Cover of OUtdoor Cafe Guide showing man and woman sitting at cafe table