What regulations do I need to adhere to?
All tourist accommodation providers in Northern Ireland must receive certification by Tourism NI in order to operate. The Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 prohibits anyone from providing or offering to provide tourist accommodation as a business (that is, overnight sleeping accommodation for tourists provided by way of a trade or business) unless there is a valid certificate issued by Tourism NI in force in respect of the premises. These regulations apply to all tourist accommodation categories.
Any person who provides or offers to provide tourist accommodation that does not have a valid certificate issued by Tourism NI is guilty of an offence and may be liable, upon conviction, to a fine of up to £2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both. For more information on statutory certification of tourist accommodation premises please see the sections below.
Tourist accommodation categories
Under the Tourism (NI) Order 1992 there are eight categories of tourist accommodation:
- Hotel - A hotel is an establishment with a minimum of 15 double bedrooms all of which must be ensuite. A hotel operator must be capable of providing breakfast, lunch, and an evening meal for guests as well as refreshments and a maid service for regular cleaning of bedrooms.
- Guest house - A guest house is an establishment with a minimum of three double ensuite bedrooms and is capable of providing both breakfast and an evening meal and a maid service for regular cleaning of bedrooms.
- Bed and breakfast - A B&B offers overnight accommodation whilst also providing guests with a cooked breakfast. There is not a requirement to provide an evening meal and only one guest bedroom is required.
- Hostel - A hostel provides overnight budget accommodation for guests in shared rooms or dormitories. A hostel should have shared or ensuite bathroom facilities as well as a common kitchen and lounge area.
- Self-catering - A self-catering unit is a self-contained apartment, house, cottage, etc. which provides furnished accommodation for visitors including sleeping accommodation and catering facilities.
- Bunk house / Camping barn - A bunk house offers simple overnight shelter, often in remote locations with limited facilities and services.
- Campus accommodation – Campus accommodation is provided by educational establishments for their students and is made available to individuals, families or groups at certain times of the year, typically Easter, summer and Christmas holidays.
- Guest accommodation - Accommodation whose primary focus is the provision of ensuite bedrooms, for example, restaurants and pubs who wish to provide accommodation for visitors.
Please see Tourist Accommodation Start-up Guides for more information on the different amenities and provisions that are offered by each type of tourist accommodation category.
Tourism NI encourages providers to apply as early as possible for certification, as it can take up to twelve weeks to facilitate visit appointments.
For certification (for new accommodation providers) please click here to apply online.
Changing tourist accommodation categories
If you are an existing tourist accommodation provider and wish to change your premises to a different category, for example from a B&B to guest house, please download the form below, complete the relevant details and submit it together with the appropriate statutory inspection fee (table below). Please refer to the guidance on tourist accommodation categories to ensure you will meet the minimum standards required to qualify for new categorisation.
Application for a statutory inspection: Change of Statutory Category (PDF)(for existing accommodation providers)
Please click here to apply online to change accommodation category (for existing accommodation providers)
Statutory inspection schedules
Tourism NI carries out statutory inspections of tourist accommodation premises in Northern Ireland every four years. The purpose of these statutory inspections is to ensure that establishments comply with certain minimum standards as set out in the relevant tourism legislation.
In each of the three years between statutory inspections tourist accommodation providers will be required to provide Tourism NI with a brief self-review statement. This self-review process is designed to ensure that certified establishments continue to comply with minimum legislative standards.
Tourism NI carries out ad hoc inspections of certified tourist accommodation establishments as part of our monitoring remit and on the occasion of a complaint from visitors. Ad hoc inspections do not incur a fee and they do not impact upon a tourist accommodation provider’s four-year inspection cycle.
Statutory inspection fees
- Minimum fee indicates the minimum amount payable for a new venture/statutory inspection i.e. the cost for a B&B is £20 per bedroom but the fee for a B&B with two bedrooms will be £80.
- Maximum fee indicates the maximum amount payable for a new venture/statutory inspection i.e. the cost for a B&B is £20 per bedroom but the fee for a B&B with 12 bedrooms will be £200.
Further details of these fees can be obtained from The Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland, 'Statutory Inspection of Tourist Establishments (Fees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 No. 105' available from The Stationery Office, 16 Arthur Street, Belfast, BT1 4GD from April 2011.
Premises ceasing to trade
Tourism accommodation providers who wish to stop trading must inform Tourism NI’s Quality & Standards Unit.
Please contact the Tourism NI's Quality and Standards Unit:
Tel: 028 9044 1545 / 1686
Premises Facilities Guide