In theories of competition in economics, a barrier to entry, or an economic barrier to entry, is a fixed cost that must be incurred by a new entrant, regardless of production or sales activities, into a market that incumbents do not have or have not had to incur.
Because barriers to entry protect incumbent firms and restrict competition in a market, they can contribute to distortionary prices and are therefore most important when discussing antitrust policy. Barriers to entry often cause or aid the existence of monopolies and oligopolies, or give companies market power.
Barriers of entry also have an importance in industries. First of all it is important to identify that some exist naturally, such as brand loyalty.
Governments can also create barriers to entry to meet consumer protection laws, protecting the public. In other cases it can also be due to inherent scarcity of public resources needed to enter a market.