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Massachusetts Business License

Once you have applied for registration of your new business in Massachusetts, what is the next step? The next step is to check whether your business requires a Massachusetts company license. If a business entity requires a license or permit and if you have not applied for one, then even after registration or incorporation, you will be unable to operate your business.

There are several types of businesses that require a permit or business license in Massachusetts to become operational. The general license needed by a business to operate is handled at the city or town level. The information regarding various types of license or permits issued in Massachusetts is available at The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) and they oversee 39 boards or licensing authorities in the state.

How to Get a Business License in Massachusetts

How do you find out if your business requires a permit or a license, or both? Who is the issuing authority for a business permit or license? How do you apply for business license in Massachusetts? Will a business entity require a single license or multiple licenses or permits? The only way to answer these questions is by understanding the process of business licensing.

Here is a step-by-step approach towards acquiring a business license in the state of Massachusetts.

Step#1: The Industry or Business Type

The state of Massachusetts provides business licenses and permits to different types of businesses. The type of industry or the activities of a business helps in identifying the type of business license required. It is important to know that licenses for specific businesses are issued by the state and not licenses and permit for all businesses.

The permit or business license issued mostly by the state of Massachusetts can be categorized under:

  • Health Care Licenses
  • Building & Trades
  • Professional Training & Career Development
  • Commercial Fishing
  • Real Estate Licensing
  • Cosmetology and Barbering Licensing
  • Commercial Transportation
  • Alcoholic Beverages

These are some of the categories for which state-wide licenses are issued. Click here to check other licenses and permits issued by DPL.

Step#2: Licenses issued by City/County

If your business type doesn’t fall under a state-wide license then you will have to check with the local city or county office. A business license in Massachusetts is not always issued by the state but also by local counties in which the business is located.

Let’s take a look at an example to understand this better.

If you establish a business in Boston, MA and the focus area of your business is Restaurant or Food Services then your Massachusetts company license will be issued by the City Councilor or the office of the Licensing Board.

Similarly, if you wanted to serve alcohol in the premises of your Boston restaurant then the license for same would be issued by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Massachusetts. This implies that a single type of business may require multiple license or permits issued by different authorities.

Step#3: Requirements for Business License

How is a business license in Massachusetts issued? Is there a process? Do you require documentation? The following example will help you understand how the process works:

  • Type of Business – Restaurant
  • Type of Business License required – To start a restaurant you will require the following:
    Food Establishment Permit
    – Site Cleanliness License
    – Flammability Certificates (Flame Certs)
    – Common Victualler License
    – Food Service Health Permit
    – Certificate of Inspection
    – Workers’ Compensation Insurance information
    – Place of Assembly Permit (occupancy more than 50)
    – Alcoholic Beverages License
  • Cost of procuring these permits or license – Depending on which of the above business license is required, the fee can vary from Food Service Health Permit ($200 + fees for certain menu items) to $1,000 including Alcoholic Beverage License of $470.

Once you have identified the type of business and the permit or license required, you can simply go ahead and apply to the licensing board for that particular business type.

If you have any questions regarding registration of your business or require information regarding business license in Massachusetts, feel free to call us on 702-871-8678.

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