Learn how to apply for a Common Victualler License for your restaurant.
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. If 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.
Get your info together
- Please note outdoor seating on private property will require an updated Inspection Certificate listing the patio capacity or a Use of Premises permit. Both of these documents are issued by the Inspectional Services Department.
- Outdoor seating on public property will require an Outdoor Dining permit. which is reviewed by several City departments. You may apply for an Outdoor Dining permit online.
You need to include several other documents with your application, including:
Give us your application
You may submit your application through our online portal. This is preferred and is processed quicker.
You can also mail your application, documents, and payment, or bring everything to us at:
1 City Hall Square, Room 809
Boston, MA 02201
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Attend a hearing and get your license
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.
Review new procedures for 2024 renewal
Licensees are strongly encouraged to file the renewal application online for the 2024 Common Victualler (CV - no alcohol) license:
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 Sunday, October 1, 2023, until Tuesday, October 31, 2023.
We send you the renewal application
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:
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:
- 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, and
- (if over 49 capacity), a Place of Assembly permit, or the proof of payment.
On the online form, you will be required to complete the following documents:
- a 24-Hour Emergency Contact Form, and
- an Ownership Identification Form (optional).
Keep in mind:
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.
Receive email from Licensing staff
After we receive your online renewal application and payment, a staff member of the Licensing 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.
Receive 2024 license by email
If you have received the email from the Licensing staff, the assigned staff member will email you the 2023 Common Victualler license once reviewed. You must print the 2023 License and post it conspicuously inside the licensed premise. If you are unable to print the 2023 License, you may request that the Board mail the 2023 license to the licensed premise.