By the Division of Banks


  1. APPLICABILITY AND SCOPE

    The purpose of this bulletin is to establish the procedures for a bank or credit union to establish, relocate, or close a branch office, regardless of the site within the United States or to relocate or redesignate the main office within the Commonwealth. For school related branch transactions, please refer to the educational components set out in Regulatory Bulletin 2.3-104.

  2. POLICY

    An eligible bank or credit union may submit a notice to the Division of Banks (Division) in order to establish a branch within the Commonwealth. The criteria and requirements for submission of a notice are listed in Section II(A). Those institutions that do not meet the criteria for notice must submit either the Uniform Bank Interstate Application or the Uniform Credit Union Application which are available on the Division’s website at www.mass.gov/dob. The Division also accepts bank applications to establish or relocate a branch or relocate the main office submitted electronically through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) extranet (FDICconnect). Banks interested in using this service must register with the FDIC. If an application is submitted electronically through FDICconnect, please submit the information in Section II B.1 to the Division in a separate addendum.

    A bank or credit union must file an application to relocate or close a branch. Please refer to the criteria below for additional instructions regarding a branch application. Please note, in addition to the requirements below, a notice to establish a branch or an application to establish, relocate, or close a branch may be subject to additional requirements or requests for information, including holding a public hearing, if deemed appropriate by the Division. The Division will contact the bank or credit union to discuss additional requests or procedures.

    1. Notice to Establish Branch
      1. Eligibility

        A bank which meets the following conditions may submit a notice to establish a branch (not including a purchase and assumption) at any location in the Commonwealth. A credit union which meets the following conditions may submit a notice to establish a branch within the county of its main office or within 50 miles from its main office location in a city or town in another county in the Commonwealth.

        1. The bank or credit union received a "Satisfactory" or higher Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating at its most recent CRA examination by the Division or federal regulator;
        2. The bank or credit union is adequately capitalized as defined under the prompt corrective action provisions of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 USC 1831(o)) and the FDIC’s Capital Adequacy Regulations (12 CFR 325.103), or the Federal Credit Union Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1790d, and the regulations promulgated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA); and
        3. The bank or credit union has not been notified that it is in troubled condition by the Division or any federal regulatory agency.
      2. Notice Requirements

        A bank or credit union which meets the conditions in Section II(A)(1) may submit a notice to establish a branch using the following procedures:

        1. Submit the notice at least 30 days prior to the intended effective date. The notice should be on the institution’s letterhead and signed by an authorized officer. Please include the official name and address of the proposed office as well as the proposed effective date.
        2. Indicate whether the deed or lease on the proposed branch will contain any exclusive lease provisions or restrictive covenants that would preclude the sale or lease of the proposed site or related space to a competing institution. If so, please provide additional explanatory comments.
        3. Provide details regarding any involvement in the proposal, if any, by any officer, director/trustee or ten (10) percent shareholder, or their interests, including any financial arrangements relating to fees, the acquisition of property, leasing of property, and construction contracts.
        4. If a bank’s capital expenditures or leasehold improvements will exceed statutory limits, the bank must submit a separate request for approval from the Division.
        5. A credit union that intends to invest more than $500,000 in the proposed branch must submit a separate request for approval from the Division.
        6. Federal agencies may require additional information to establish a branch. Please contact the appropriate federal supervisory agency to determine if additional information is necessary.
        7. A fee payable to the "Division of Banks" must be submitted at the time of filing the notice. For each notice to establish a branch office, the fees are $1,000 for a bank and $500 for a credit union.
      1. During the 30 day period, the Division may deny the notice if it determines that the establishment of the branch would not benefit the public or that competition would be adversely affected. The Division reserves the right to notify the bank or credit union before the 30th day that the notice will be subject to additional procedures which may include the submission of additional information. The Division may take any and all action used in its review of a standard application filing, including holding a public hearing if deemed appropriate. Unless the institution is notified otherwise, the notice will be deemed approved within 30 days of receipt.

    2. Application to Establish or Relocate a Branch
      1. Application Requirements

        A bank may submit the Uniform Bank Interstate Application to establish a branch through a purchase and assumption or to establish or relocate any branch in another state. A bank or credit union may submit an application to relocate a branch within the Commonwealth by submitting the applicable Uniform Application. In addition to submitting the applicable Application, a bank or credit union must submit the following information in an addendum to the Uniform Application:

        1. Indicate whether the deed or lease on the proposed branch will contain any exclusive lease provisions or restrictive covenants that would preclude the sale or lease of the proposed site or related space to a competing institution. If so, please provide additional explanatory comments.
        2. If the application involves the relocation or redesignation of the main office, please indicate in the addendum and state the reasons for the change. The Division may require additional information for an application to relocate or redesignate the main office.
        3. If a bank’s capital expenditures or leasehold improvements will exceed statutory limits, the bank must submit a separate request for approval from the Division.
        4. A credit union that intends to invest more than $500,000 in the proposed branch must submit a separate request for approval from the Division.
        5. A bank seeking to establish a branch involving a purchase and assumption of a branch of another bank must also enclose a copy of the terms of any agreement reached by the respective governing boards of each bank as well as a certified copy of the votes of such boards.
      2. Definition of Relocation

        For the purpose of Section II(B)(1), relocation means moving the premises of a branch or main office within a one-mile radius of the site and within the same city or town.

    3. Application to Close a Branch

      A bank or credit union may submit an application to close a branch at least 90 days prior to the intended effective date using the applicable Uniform Application. In addition, the bank or credit union must submit the following information in an addendum to the Uniform Application:

      1. A detailed description of the branch’s operations and financial performance, including the number and types of accounts and transactions, and a statement of profitability for the branch.
      2. An analysis of any liabilities or penalties that may result from the termination of the lease or any contract.
      3. A description of any steps taken or intended to reduce any adverse effects on the community. Include any information on increased hours at other branch locations, new or enhanced services not available at other financial institutions in the area, and the availability of credit and deposit services in the area.

      During the 90 day period, the Division may deny the application if it determines that the closing of the branch would adversely affect the area served by the branch.

  3. PUBLIC NOTICE

    Public notice is not required for a bank or credit union to establish a branch by notice or application. A bank or credit union that intends to close or relocate a branch must post a copy of the public notice to customers on its website and in a conspicuous manner on the premises of the branch proposed to be closed or relocated for at least 30 days after the date of application. In addition to the language below, the notice should also state the proposed date of closing and identify where customers may obtain service following that date or provide a telephone number for customers to call to determine such alternative sites.

    A bank seeking to establish a branch through a purchase and assumption must also publish a public notice once in a newspaper of general circulation with a paid circulation in the city or town or if no such citywide or townwide publication exists, in the county in which the branch office is to be located. Documentation that the notice was published must be submitted to the Division within thirty (30) days of filing an application/notice. It may take the form of a certification by the publisher or the submission of the page on which the notice was published. An electronic version of such documentation followed by the submission of the original is also acceptable. In order to ensure the timely review of the application, the notice should appear not later than five (5) business days after filing the application.

    The required notice must conform to the applicable example provided below.

    1. Notice to Relocate a Branch

      NOTICE

      [Name of BANK/CREDIT UNION and city or town where its main office is located] Massachusetts has petitioned the Massachusetts Division of Banks for permission to relocate a branch office from [complete address of existing branch office] to [complete address of proposed branch office]. Any objections or comments relative to this proposal must be communicated in writing to the Commissioner of Banks, [full name of current Commissioner], [current address of Division of Banks] no later than two weeks from the date of the posting of this notice.

    2. Notice for a Purchase and Assumption Transaction

      NOTICE

      [Name of BANK and city or town where its main office is located] Massachusetts has petitioned the Massachusetts Division of Banks for permission to (1) purchase certain assets and assume certain deposit and other liabilities of [Name of other BANK and city or town and state where its main office is located] and; in connection therewith, (2) establish and maintain branch office(s) at the following locations [address(es) of proposed branch office(s) including city(ies)/town(s) and state(s)]. Any objections or comments relative to these proposals must be communicated in writing to the Commissioner of Banks, [full name of current Commissioner], [current address of Division of Banks] no later than two weeks from the date of publication of this notice.

    3. Notice to Close a Branch

      NOTICE

      [Name of BANK/CREDIT UNION and city or town where its main office is located] Massachusetts has petitioned the Massachusetts Division of Banks for permission to close a branch office at [complete address of existing branch office]. Any objections or comments relative to this proposal must be communicated in writing to the Commissioner of Banks, [full name of current Commissioner], [current address of Division of Banks] no later than two weeks from [insert date of posting].

  4. HISTORICAL NOTES

    This bulletin was first issued and became effective on September 27, 1996 as Administrative Bulletin 36-1 and established an expedited procedure to open a branch for any bank or credit union with an "Outstanding" CRA rating. The bulletin was revised in October 2002 to clarify the circumstances under which an institution would be eligible for expedited branch application procedures. The bulletin was substantially revised in April 2005 to reflect changes made to the branching procedures, as set forth in Chapter 461 of the Acts of 2004, An Act Relative to Banks and Banking. The bulletin was revised on March 29, 2013 to reflect changes in available methods of reporting and the use of electronic media.

  5. AUTHORITY

    G.L. c. 167C and G.L. c. 171, s. 8, each as amended by Chapter 461 of the Acts of 2004.