Thursday, November 26, 2009

Guesthouses in Fez - the legal requirements

Tourism authorities in all countries have a set of requirements that hotels and guesthouses have to fulfil in order to have permission to operate. The View from Fez takes a look at the new regulations put in place recently.

Local authorities and the Guesthouse Association in Fez have been working hard over the last eight months. In the past, there were only requirements specific to hotels and guesthouses, but in recent years, more and more smaller guesthouses have opened their doors. These houses could be termed 'bed and breakfast' establishments, and often have fewer than the previously required five bedrooms.

Most of the owners of these smaller houses wanted to register their businesses, but were unable to do so because there was no category for them. But now, their wishes have been granted and they are able to operate legally provided that they fulfil certain obligations. There's a new category for them, known as 'maisons meublees' or furnished houses.

Mehdi el Abbadi, President of the Guesthouse Association in Fez, explains that it's important to have these regulations in place for various reasons:

- staff wages are fair and they can be covered by insurance (CNSS)
- fire regulations are adhered to
- the houses are insured
- the city (and Morocco in general) can benefit from TVA and taxes collected from owners

This last point is particularly important, as some owners are using the Paypal system to collect deposits or the full amount of the accommodation costs. As Paypal cannot be used in Morocco because of stringent exchange control regulations, this means that owners are benefitting from receiving money in other countries, and are avoiding tax in Morocco.

House Rentals
It's important to note that the same set of regulations are to apply to private houses that are rented out to families or groups. Two or three years ago, many foreigners bought holiday houses in the medina. Most of these have now been renovated and the owners would like to rent them out while they're not here themselves. They must now register in order to operate legally.

Owners of private houses and of guesthouses that are currently operating clandestinely are encouraged to apply for registration - the authorities are allowing one month's grace to allow time for this. After that, they are adamant that they will close down any houses operating illegally.

Here is a list of the documents you need to make an application:

*proof of payment of CNSS for staff
*registration with income tax authorities
*registration for payment of TVA
*Patente: licence for opening a company. You can apply for this through the Bureau d'Investissement
*Entry on the Register of Commercial Enterprises
*Insurance of the house, including for fire
*architect's plan of the house
*Statement of stability of the building
*Memorandum of setting up the company

Mr el-Abbadi stresses that for the sake of tourism in Fez, he is willing to help anyone who wants to register. Please make sure you have the above documents before contacting him. Mr el-Abbadi can be contacted at


Anonymous said...

Hamdulillah!!!!!!! Finally - I am so happy that these changes have finally actually happened - they have been a LONG time coming!

Thanks for this news - it will really change the Fez Riad scene so that little personal boutique Riads can flourish.

These little Riads will now be able to be a true part of the community by paying taxes.

Everyone wins: guests; tourists; and the government coffers, and hence local community.

Anonymous said...

Reinstating direct flights from London would help tourism a lot more!