The Commonwealth of Massachusetts - Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission
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Licensing Division

Licensing DivisionIn Massachusetts there are retail level and state level alcoholic beverages licenses. Retail license applications as well as any license changes require the prior approval of both the local licensing authorities (the "LLA") and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ("ABCC"). All general on premises, restaurants, taverns, clubs, veterans clubs, hotels, package stores, conveniences stores, and supermarkets require a license that has been granted by the LLA and approved by the ABCC. The ABCC approves approximately 13,000 such transactions a year.

However, the ABCC is the sole agency responsible for approving and issuing state licenses. All manufacturers, wholesalers and importers, out-of-state suppliers, brokers, salespeople, warehouses, planes, trains, ships, ship chandlers and every motor vehicle commercially transporting alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts require an ABCC issued license or permit. The ABCC issues approximately 10,000 such licenses and permits each year.

Massachusetts has two types of retail licenses that are distinguished by where patrons may consume the alcoholic beverages that they purchase. There are on-premises and off-premises retail licenses. The Local Licensing Authorities (the "LLA") and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) follow a three-step process in deciding whether to approve retail alcoholic beverages license applications, as well as any license changes.

Prior to applying for a retail alcoholic beverages license, interested parties should contact their LLA to ascertain if there is an available license. If there is a retail license available, an applicant should submit an application to the LLA along with a $200 processing fee made payable to the ABCC. If the LLA approves the application, it is forwarded to the ABCC for approval along with the processing fee.

Thereafter, the ABCC conducts an investigation of the license application, the individuals involved with the license application and the premises. Once the ABCC approves the application, the LLA issues the license after receiving the license fee. The LLA sets the license fee.

Staff at the ABCC and your LLA can answer questions concerning the application process. Applicants should be aware that licenses might take several months to acquire. Failure to communicate, provide required documentation and file applications with your LLA sufficiently in advance of your opening date will most likely result in a delay.

Some examples of this type of license are restaurants, hotels, and clubs.
   
Some examples of this type of license are package stores, convenience stores, and supermarkets.

 

The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ("ABCC") is the sole agency responsible for issuing state or industry licenses. Massachusetts has many types of state licenses, which are distinguished by the type of activity the licensee wishes to perform. An applicant must submit an application, supporting documentation along with the license fee and, in some cases, the required bond to the ABCC for approval.

Once the ABCC approves the application, the license is issued. The fees for state licenses vary widely, depending on the kind of license sought. Staff at the ABCC can answer questions concerning the application process. Applicants should be aware that licenses might take several weeks to acquire, depending on the completeness of the original submission and any questions raised during the review process.

Alcoholic beverage licenses may be granted to qualified natural persons, corporations, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability companies. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age. All corporations and limited liability companies must be registered with the Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office and authorized to do business in Massachusetts.

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Types of Licenses

 

There are licenses and permits that authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages to the public at special events. There are 5 types of Special Event Permits and Licenses: Special License (“1-Day License”), Charity Wine Fundraising License, Consumer Research Special Permit, the Personal Importation Special Permit, and Licensee Inventory Liquidation.

Each type of special license/permit criteria has its own approval process an applicant must follow. Please check on the appropriate link below for the type of license you are applying for rules and forms.

Local Licensing Authority Approval Only

1. 1. Special License (“1-Day License”)

The Local Licensing Authorities may issue special licenses for the sale of wines and/or malt beverages to any enterprise however, special licenses for the sale of all alcoholic beverages may be issued to non-profit organizations only. List of Authorized Sources of Alcohol for 1-Day Licenses

The Local Licensing Authorities cannot grant special licenses to:

    a. any person for more than a total of 30 days per calendar year,
    b. to any person that has an on premises license application pending before it,
    c. any premises that has an alcoholic beverages license.

Special Licensees must purchase alcoholic beverages from a licensed supplier. Special licensees CANNOT purchase alcoholic beverages from a package store and CANNOT accept donations of alcoholic beverages from anyone.

2. Farmer's Market License

The Local Licensing Authorities may issue a Farmer's Market License for the sale of wine manufactured by a licensed Farmer-Winery at approved agricultural events in Massachusetts.

a. All applicants must submit a certification from the Department of Agricultural Resources that the Farmer’s Market, for which they are seeking a license, is an “agricultural event.”

b. These licenses are not subject to the quota or limit on the number of section 15 licenses that otherwise exist in each city and town.

c. These licenses cannot overlap any area or premises that is already covered by an existing license

Farmer's Market License Application


Local Licensing Authority and ABCC Approval

3. 3. Charity Wine Fundraising License- 60 Days Notice is Required

There are 2 types of Charity Wine Fundraising Licenses, a Charity Wine Auction License and a Charity Wine Pouring License. Only a qualifying charity can obtain these licenses, which allow for the sale and consumption of DONATED WINE ONLY. The location of an event with these licenses is limited to an on- premises licensed establishment or the qualifying charity’s headquarters or usual place of business (if zoned for wine sales).

A qualifying charity is:

    a. a Non-Profit Corporation organized in Massachusetts and

    b. Currently registered with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General’s, Public Charities Division.

 Charity Wine Fundraising License Application

List of Section 18 and 19 License Holders


ABCC Approval Only

3. 4. Consumer Research Special Permit

An individual wishing to conduct consumer-tasting research with alcoholic beverages may apply to the ABCC for a permit authorizing that activity. This activity must occur at the location where the research is conducted. The application form is on our website, under the forms section.

The alcoholic beverages used in the research must:

a. be received from a wholesaler
b. be acquired otherwise than by purchase and not intended for sale,
c. use the alcoholic beverages specified solely for research related to consumer consumption of  those alcoholic beverages.

Consumer Research Special Permit Application

4. 5. Special Permit to Import Household Effects/Gifts Into Massachusetts

Individuals, who are at least twenty-one years of age, who are relocating to Massachusetts and have received alcoholic beverages that are household effects or gifts, may apply to the ABCC for a permit authorizing him or her to import the alcoholic beverages specified therein. The alcoholic beverages must not have been purchased and must not be intended for sale.

Application for a Special Permit to Import Household Effects/Gifts Into Massachusetts

 
5. 6. Licensee Inventory Liquidation (Going-Out-Of-Business)

A special permit from the ABCC exists for license-holders who have gone or are going out of business and wish to sell their existing inventory of alcoholic beverages. Anyone interested in additional information on this special permit should call for further information on the application process.

Licensee Inventory Liquidation (Going-Out-Of-Business) Application


License Types

AGENT/BROKER/SOLICITOR

Agent/Broker/Solicitor License
M.G.L. c. 138, §18A
A license to solicit orders from licensed wholesalers on behalf of licensed suppliers. A broker may not buy or sell alcoholic beverages and may not bring alcoholic beverages into Massachusetts.

Salesperson Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §19A
A permit authorizing an individual employed by a licensed broker to solicit orders for alcoholic beverages from licensed wholesalers on behalf of that employer.

Salesperson of a Broker Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up alcoholic beverages lawfully obtained by the broker from a wholesaler in Massachusetts and deliver the same to another wholesaler in Massachusetts.
AIRLINE

Airline Sale to Passengers License
M.G.L. c. 138, §13
A license to sell alcoholic beverages for passenger consumption on an aircraft.

Airplane Cargo
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to transport and deliver alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by a licensee in Massachusetts to a lawful buyer in Massachusetts.
CATERING

Caterer
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to transport and deliver alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by an off-premises licensee in Massachusetts to a lawful consumer in Massachusetts. This permit does not authorize a caterer to purchase, sell or resell alcoholic beverages.
CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE

Certificate of Compliance
M.G.L. c. 138, §18B
A permit authorizing an out of state licensee to export or sell alcoholic beverages to Massachusetts licensed wholesalers. A certificate of compliance holder shall not sell directly to retailers.
COMMERCIAL ALCOHOL LICENSE

Non-Beverage Use of Alcohol License
M.G.L. c. 138, §76
A license authorizing the manufacture, transport, import, export and sale of alcohol for mechanical, manufacturing or chemical purposes only or for sale to any wholesaler or manufacturer in Massachusetts or to any other buyers specified in state law.
CONSUMER RESEARCH

Consumer Research Special Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22A

A permit authorizing the holder to conduct consumer-tasting research with alcoholic beverages.
FARMER BREWERY

Farmer-Brewery License
M.G.L. c.138, §19C
A license authorizing producing malt beverages from the fermentation of malt with or without cereal grains or fermentable sugars, or of hops, provided that said hops or cereal grains are grown by the farmer-brewer and to sell at wholesale to licensed manufacturers, wholesalers, farmer-brewers, and licensed retailers in Massachusetts, at wholesale to other buyers specified in state law, and at retail by the bottle for consumption off the premises.

Farmer-Brewery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up malt beverages lawfully bought by the licensee from a licensee in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of malt beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to retailers and wholesalers in Massachusetts.

Salesperson Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §19A
A permit authorizing an individual employed by a licensed farmer-brewery to solicit orders for malt beverages from licensed wholesalers (or retailers, as the case may be) on behalf of that employer.

Salesperson of a Farmer-Brewery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of limited quantities of malt beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to retailers and wholesalers in Massachusetts.

FARMER DISTILLERY

Farmer-Distillery License
M.G.L. c. 138, §19E
A license authorizing producing, manufacturing or distilling of distilled spirits by the person who grows fruits, flowers, herbs, vegetables, cereal grains or hops for the purpose of producing alcoholic beverages. A farmer-distillery may sell at wholesale to licensed farmer-distilleries, manufacturers, wholesalers, and licensed retailers in Massachusetts, at wholesale to other buyers specified in state law, and at retail by the bottle for consumption off the premises.

Farmer-Distillery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up alcoholic beverages lawfully bought by the licensee from a licensee in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to retailers and wholesalers in Massachusetts.

FARMER WINERY

Farmer-Winery License
M.G.L. c. 138, §19B
A license authorizing producing, rectifying, blending or fortifying wine from fruits, flowers, herbs or vegetables and sell to licensed wholesalers in Massachusetts, to persons in a state or territory in which the importation and sale of wine is not prohibited by law at retail or wholesale, and at wholesale to a person in any foreign country.


Farmer-Winery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up wine lawfully bought by the licensee from licensee in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of wine lawfully sold by the licensee to wholesalers in Massachusetts.


Winery Shipment License
M.G.L. c. 138, §19F
A license authorizing a premises where wine is produced, rectified, blended or fortified from fruits, flowers, herbs or vegetables, or where wine is bottled or packaged to sell and ship winery products produced by it at retail directly to consumers, at wholesale to licensed retailer and at wholesale to other buyers specified in state law.


Winery Shipment Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of wine lawfully sold by the licensee to consumers in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of wine lawfully sold by the licensee to retailers and wholesalers in Massachusetts.


Salesperson Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §19A
A permit authorizing an individual employed by a licensed farmer-winery to solicit orders for wine from licensed wholesalers on behalf of that employer.

Salesperson of a Farmer-Winery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of limited quantities of wine lawfully sold by the licensee to wholesalers in Massachusetts.
GOING OUT-OF-BUSINESS SPECIAL PERMIT

Licensee Going-Out-Of-Business Special Permit M.G.L. c. 138, §22A
A permit authorizing the license-holders, who have gone or are going out of business, to sell their existing inventory of malt beverages to other licensees in Massachusetts.
MANUFACTURER

Manufacturer of All Alcoholic Beverages License M.G.L. c. 138, §19
A license authorizing the manufacturing, rectifying or blending of all kinds of alcoholic beverages and sale of those beverages manufactured, rectified or blended to other licensed manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in Massachusetts.

Manufacturer of Wine and Malt Beverages License M.G.L. c. 138, §19
A license authorizing the manufacturing or blending of wine and/ or malt beverages and sale of those beverages manufactured, or blended to other licensed manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in Massachusetts.

Manufacturer’s Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to Massachusetts licensed retailers and wholesalers.
PUB BREWERY

Pub Brewery License
M.G.L. c. 138, §19D
A license authorizing production of malt beverages from the fermentation of malt with or without cereal grains or fermentable sugars, or of hops, and sold and where alcoholic beverages or wine or malt beverages only are authorized to be sold for consumption on the premises. A pub brewery may sell those malt beverages so manufactured by it at wholesale to licensed wholesalers in Massachusetts and at retail by the bottle for consumption off the premises.

Pub Brewery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up alcoholic beverages lawfully bought by the licensee from a licensee in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to wholesalers in Massachusetts.

Salesperson Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §19A
A permit authorizing an individual employed by a licensed pub-brewery to solicit orders for malt beverages from licensed wholesalers on behalf of that employer.

Salesperson of a Pub-Brewery Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22

A permit authorizing the delivery of limited quantities of malt beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to wholesalers in Massachusetts.
RAILROAD

Railroad Sale to Passengers License
M.G.L. c. 138, §13
A license to sell alcoholic beverages for passenger. consumption in a licensed railroad car.

Railroad Cargo
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to transport and deliver alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by a licensee in Massachusetts to a lawful buyer in Massachusetts,
SALESMAN

Salesperson Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §19A
A permit authorizing an individual employed by a licensed wholesaler, broker, farmer-winery, farmer-brewery, or pub-brewery to solicit orders for alcoholic beverages from licensed wholesalers (or retailers, as the case may be) on behalf of that employer.

Salesperson of a Wholesaler, Farmer-Winery,
Farmer-Brewery, Pub-Brewery Transportation Permit M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of limited quantities of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to wholesalers (or retailers, as the case may be) in Massachusetts.
SHIP

Ship Sale to Passengers License
M.G.L. c. 138, §13

A license to sell alcoholic beverages to passenger for consumption on a ship.

Ship Chandler license
M.G.L. c. 138, §13

A license authorizing a ship chandler to purchase alcoholic beverages for provisioning ship(s) in Massachusetts.
Ship Cargo
M.G.L. c. 138, §22 A permit authorizing the holder to transport and deliver alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by a licensee in Massachusetts to a lawful buyer in Massachusetts.
STORAGE

Permit to Store Alcoholic Beverages
M.G.L. c. 138, §20
A permit authorizing a wholesaler, a farmer-brewer, a farmer-winery, or a manufacturer to store alcoholic beverages it is authorized to produce, sell and deliver.
TRANSPORTATION

Off-premises Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up alcoholic beverages lawfully bought by the licensee in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to consumers in Massachusetts.

On-premises Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up alcoholic beverages lawfully bought by the licensee in Massachusetts. An on-premises licensee may not deliver outside the licensed premise to consumers in Massachusetts.

General Express/Trucking
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to transport and deliver alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by a licensee in Massachusetts to a lawful buyer in Massachusetts.
WAREHOUSE

Public Warehouse Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §20A
A permit authorizing a licensed public warehouse to store alcoholic beverages lawfully possessed by the person seeking to warehouse those alcoholic beverages.

Bonded Warehouse Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §20
A permit authorizing a wholesaler, a farmer-brewery, a farmer-winery, or a manufacturer to store alcoholic beverages in bond and transfer these beverages from bond to the purchaser’s licensed premises.
WINERY SHIPMENT

Winery Shipment License
M.G.L. c. 138, §19F
A license authorizing a premises where wine is produced, rectified, blended or fortified from fruits, flowers, herbs or vegetables, or where wine is bottled or packaged to sell and ship winery products produced by it at retail directly to consumers, at wholesale to licensed retailer and at wholesale to other buyers specified in state law.

Winery Shipment Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of wine lawfully sold by the licensee to consumers in Massachusetts; also authorizes the delivery of wine lawfully sold by the licensee to retailers and wholesalers in Massachusetts.
WHOLESALER

Wholesaler License For All Kinds of Alcoholic Beverages
M.G.L. c. 138, §18
A license to import, export, and sell all kinds of alcoholic beverages to licensed Massachusetts retailers and wholesalers.

Wholesaler License for Wine and Malt Beverages
M.G.L. c. 138, §18
A license to import, export, and sell wine and malt beverages to licensed Massachusetts retailers and wholesalers.

Wholesaler License for Sacramental Wine
M.G.L. c. 138, §18
A license to import, export, and sell sacramental wines to any regularly ordained priest, minister, rabbi or any church or religious society.

Wholesaler Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the holder to pick-up alcoholic beverages lawfully bought by the licensee from licensed suppliers; also authorizes the delivery of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to a Massachusetts Licensed retailers and wholesalers.

Salesperson Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §19A
A permit authorizing an individual employed by a licensed wholesaler to solicit orders for alcoholic beverages from licensed wholesalers (or retailers, as the case may be) on behalf of that employer.

Salesperson of a Wholesaler Transportation Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22
A permit authorizing the delivery of limited quantities of alcoholic beverages lawfully sold by the licensee to retailers and wholesalers in Massachusetts.

IMPORT HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS/GIFT SPECIAL PERMIT

Personal Importation Special Permit
M.G.L. c. 138, §22A
A permit authorizing individuals, who are at least twenty-one years of age, who are relocating to Massachusetts, to import any alcoholic beverages specified therein which are acquired otherwise than by purchase and are not intended for sale.

 

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Licensing Division Contact Information
(617)-727-3040


Pat Krueger -
Licensing Program Coordinator II
Ext 718 - pkrueger@tre.state.ma.us
Deron Egbuche
Ext 723 - degbuche@tre.state.ma.us
Hurshel Langham
Ext 719 - hlangham@tre.state.ma.us
Jeanily Cruz
Ext 720 - jcruz@tre.state.ma.us
Darla Earl
Ext 721 -dearl@tre.state.ma.us


 

Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission Download Forms & Applications