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How to Get a Common Victualler License

Last updated:

Learn how to apply for a Common Victualler License for your restaurant. 

Step
1

Review new license information

If your address doesn’t already have a Licensing Board-approved restaurant, you need to attend a public hearing to get your license. Before your hearing, contact your local neighborhood coordinator and City CouncilorIf your address does already have a Licensing Board-approved restaurant then you may not need to attend a public hearing. 

You must give us your application at least four weeks before you plan to open or make changes to your location. This gives us enough time to review everything and have a vote. Please note: Licensing Board voting hearings are held on the first and last Thursdays of the month

You need to get a certificate from Inspectional Services if your restaurant has seats. If you are takeout only, please provide the Certificate of Use and Occupancy. If your capacity is for 50 or more people, you'll need a Place of Assembly permit from the Fire Department. You won't be able to pick up your license until you can show us these documents.

The annual license fee is $100 plus $1 for each seat in your restaurant. If you only do takeout food, the annual fee is $210. We take checks or money orders made payable to the City of Boston. Please do not submit payments until Licensing Staff has instructed you to do so.

You have to renew your license by the end of October every year. If you don't, we may take your license away.  

Step
2

Get your info together

If you don't plan to have outdoor seating, complete and print our no outdoor seating application.

Plan to have outdoor seating? You need to complete and print our application with outdoor seating. You will also need to get approval from the Public Improvement Commission (PIC) at Public Works if your seating area is on a public way, like the sidewalk.

You need to include several other documents with your application, including:

Step
3

Give us your application

You may submit your application via email at LicensingBoard@boston.gov. This is preferred. You can also mail your application, documents, and payment, or bring everything to us at:

Licensing Board
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Step
4

Attend a hearing and get your license

Once we process your application, we will schedule a public hearing. We'll let you know when you have to appear, but you can also take a look at our hearing schedule.

If we approve your license, you will need to submit update copies of your certificates from Inspectional Services and the Fire Department in order to  pick up your license.

Step
1

Review changing a license information

You may need to come to a hearing if you're making changes or adding outdoor seating to a Licensing Board-approved restaurant.

You need to contact your local neighborhood coordinator and City Councilor before you can have a public hearing.

You must give us your application at least four weeks before you plan to open or make changes to your location. This gives us enough time to review everything and have a vote. Please note: Licensing Board voting hearings are held on the first and last Thursdays of the month

The annual license fee is $100 plus $1 for each seat in your restaurant. If you only do takeout, the annual fee is $210. We take checks or money orders made payable to the City of Boston. Please do not submit payment until instructed to do so by Licensing Staff.

You have to renew your license by the end of October every year. If you don't, we may take your license away. 

Step
2

Get your info together

If you don't plan to have outdoor seating, complete and print our no outdoor seating application.

Plan to have outdoor seating? You need to complete and print our application with outdoor seating. You will also need to get approval from the Public Improvement Commission (PIC) at Public Works if your seating area is on a public way, like the sidewalk.

You need to include several other documents with your application, including:

Step
3

Give us your application

Email your application to LicensingBoard@boston.gov. This is the preferred method and permits us to process your application quickly. You may also mail or walk-in your application:

Licensing Board
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Step
4

Pick up your license

If you’re not making a lot of changes to your restaurant, we will let you know if we approve your license within one to two weeks.

If you are making big changes to your hours or capacity, you will need to attend a hearing. We'll let you know when you have to appear, but you can also take a look at our public hearing schedule.

Step
1

Review new procedures for 2022 renewal

Licensees are strongly encouraged to file the renewal application online for the 2022 Common Victualler (CV - no alcohol) license:

Complete the online application

If you do not have a Google account, you will need to create a free account online. Applicants may renew in person at City Hall but will still be required to submit the renewal application online at kiosks in Room 809. 

The Board will begin accepting online renewal applications beginning on Monday, September 6, 2021, until Sunday, October 31, 2021. The deadline is Friday, October 29, 2021, if you renew in person at City Hall. You do not need to wait until the month of October to renew the license.

Step
2

We send you the renewal application

We mail renewal application packets at the end of August. If you do not receive your renewal packet by September 17, 2021, please call us at 617-635-4170 or email RenewCV@boston.gov.

Deadline:

You have until Friday, October 29, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. (Sunday, October 31, if completed online) to complete and return your renewal application without a late-fee penalty. The late fee is double the fee of your Common Victualler license.

Please note: Filing and paying the renewal fee online does not constitute a complete renewal application. A member of the Board's staff will review the submission. They will advise whether it is complete, or if there is more information or additional documents needed.

Online Training and Office Hours:

You may contact the Board at 617-635-4170 or RenewCV@boston.gov, if you would like to schedule an online training or online office hour for help with the renewal application.

Step
3

Complete the renewal application online

Your renewal packet will include a renewal application for you to complete and upload onto our online form, along with the following documents:

  • the Board's Advisory regarding the Renewal process
  • a Renewal Checklist, and
  • a three-tiered invoice or bill.

Please follow the instructions carefully. You will need to gather and submit copies of other documents that are not included in the packet, including:

On the online form, you will be required to complete the following documents:

Keep in mind:

Only an officer listed on the license renewal may sign the renewal application. If you need to change a manager or corporate office, please complete this form and email it to RenewCV@boston.gov as soon as possible.

Step
4

Submit payment

Online payment (preferred):

You may choose to pay online by credit card, debit card, or EFT check. Please confirm with your accounts payable department before paying online. We had instances of rejected payments last year that resulted in additional fees.

Please note: There is a 2.75 percent fee for debit and credit card transactions. There is no service fee for check payments online. Rejected online payments will incur additional fees ($25 or 1% if license fee is over $2,500).

Mail payment by check:

You may choose to pay by mail. This is discouraged as you may submit the check payment online with no service fees. If you choose to send a check by mail, please make it payable to "City of Boston". The license name and number should be in the memo. Send the check to:

Boston City Hall
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201

Pay by cash in person:

If you would like to make a cash payment at City Hall, you will need to make an appointment. You also will need to save the receipt for the cash payment to submit to the Licensing Board via email at RenewCV@boston.gov, or in-person in Room 809.

Step
5

Receive email from Licensing staff

After we receive your online renewal application and payment, a staff member of the Board will reach out to you. We will contact you through the email provided on the online form to confirm completion. If your application is not complete, you will need to email the missing documents, information, or payment.

Step
6

Receive 2022 license by email

If you have received the email from the Licensing staff, the assigned staff member will email you the 2022 Common Victualler (no alcohol) license in December. You must print the 2022 License and post it conspicuously inside the licensed premise. If you are unable to print the 2022 License, you may request that the Board mail the 2022 license to the licensed premise.

Keep in mind

Board hearing schedule

Licensing Board hearings are typically held during the first and last week of the month at either 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. You may contact the Board to verify the upcoming hearing dates.

  • Violation hearings: Tuesdays
  • Transactional (application) hearings: Wednesdays
  • Voting hearings: Thursdays
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