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How to get a common victualler license

Learn how to apply for a Common Victualler License for your restaurant. You can apply even if your address doesn't have a Licensing Board-approved restaurant.

Last updated:
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 Councilor.

You must give us your application at least two weeks before you plan to open or make changes to your location. This gives us enough time to review everything and have a vote.

You need to get a certificate from Inspectional Services. 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 take-out food, the annual fee is $210. We take checks or money orders made payable to the City of Boston.

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 out this application.

If you plan to have outdoor seating, you need to complete and print out this application. You will also need to:

  • include a check for $170 made out to the Boston Herald for an advertising fee
  • notify your neighbors of your plans, and
  • get approval from the Public Works if your seating area is on a public way.

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

Step
3

Give us your application

You can mail your application, documents, and payment, or bring everything to us at:

Licensing Board
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201
Monday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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’ll need to show us your certificates from Inspectional Services and the Fire Department when you 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 two weeks before you plan to open or make changes. This gives us enough time to review everything and have a vote.

The annual license fee is $100 plus $1 for each seat in your restaurant. If you only do take-out, the annual fee is $210. We take checks or money orders made payable to the City of Boston.

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 out this application.

If you plan to have outdoor seating, you need to complete and print out this application. You will also need to:

  • include a check for $170 made out to the Boston Herald for an advertising fee
  • notify your neighbors of your plans, and
  • get approval from the Public Works if your seating area is on a public way.

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

Step
3

Give us your application

You can mail your application, documents, and payment, or bring everything to us at:

Licensing Board
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201
Monday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
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 2021 renewal

For the 2021 Common Victualler (No Alcohol) license renewal, the Licensing Board is changing the renewal procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From September 7, 2020, until October 30, 2020, the Board will be using an online form to collect all license renewals. Licensees do not need to wait until the month of October to renew, as in previous years.

The Board's Office is not open to walk-in visits due to COVID-19. We are only available by appointment. Visitors who do not have an appointment will be asked to leave and to schedule an appointment to return. Please note: Licensees who would like in-person help for the renewal will still be asked to complete the online renewal application at City Hall. The Board will have kiosks available on the Mezzanine Level. There will be limited access to City Hall and appointments due to the ongoing public health emergency.

We strongly encourage all business to be conducted via phone, email, or virtual meeting, unless doing so is impossible. This is to ensure the health and well being of the Board's staff, the licensees, and the general public.

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 15, 2020, please call us at 617-635-4170 or email RenewCV2021@boston.gov.

Deadline:

You have until Friday, October 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. 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:

We will hold online training sessions andonline office hours to demonstrate the renewal process, and to answer specific questions. Recordings of the online training sessions and online office hours will be available online.

Virtual Office Hours will be from Monday through Friday at 11 am-12 pm and 2 pm-3 pm on Zoom. Here is the link to the Zoom room.

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:

  • an Inspection Certificate or the proof of payment with last year's Inspection Certificate, and
  • (if over 50 capacity), a Place of Assembly permitor the proof of payment. Please note: Place of Assembly permits with June 30, 2020, expirations are valid until September 30, 2020.

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

  • a Wage Theft Form
  • an Emergency Contact Form, and
  • an Ownership Identification Form (optional).
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 RenewCV2021@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 check.

Please note: There is a 2.75 percent fee for debit and credit card transactions. There is no service fee for check payments online. Bounced checks will incur additional fees.

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" with the license name and number in the memo and send it 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 RenewCV2021@boston.gov, or in-person in Room 809/817.

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 2021 license

If you have received the email from the Licensing staff, the assigned staff member will email you the 2021 Common Victualler (no alcohol) license in December. You must print the 2021 License and post it conspicuously inside the licensed premise. If you are unable to print the 2021 License, you may request that the Board mail the 2021 license to the licensed premise.

Please note: Walk-in visits to pick up the 2021 License in City Hall will not be permitted.

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