How to obtain business license in Massachusetts

Updated on December 21, 2023


Securing the proper business license is crucial for legally operating in Massachusetts. This guide will help you navigate who needs licenses, the types available, the application process, costs, necessary documents, compliance requirements, and state-specific considerations.

Who Needs a Business License in Massachusetts?

Properly licensing your business is vital for legally operating in Massachusetts. This guide covers who needs licenses, the types available, the application process, costs, documents required, maintaining compliance, and special considerations in Massachusetts.

Penalties for non-compliance include fines up to $300 per offense, potential business closure after multiple violations, and possible criminal charges.

Understanding Massachusetts Business Licenses

Common Massachusetts business licenses include:

  • Local town/city licenses – Required in most areas
  • Sales & use tax registration – For collecting/remitting sales tax
  • Professional/vocational licenses – For services like law, healthcare
  • Industry-specific licenses – Hospitality, alcohol, etc

Preparing to Apply for a License

Begin by using Massachusetts’ Online Licensing System to identify required permits and registrations.

You’ll also need to gather business formation documents, commercial lease agreements, etc. Fees vary widely.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply

Massachusetts provides an online portal for most licensing applications. Use the License Finder, select required licenses, provide business details, pay fees, and await approvals.

Massachusetts offers online applications for most license and permit types. To apply online:

  1. Access Massachusetts’ Online Licensing Portal,
  2. Complete the License Finder
  3. Select your required license types
  4. Provide requested business and owner details
  5. Pay all fees
  6. Obtain approvals

After Submitting an Application

Online applications typically process within 10-15 business days. Monitor your status via the portal.

If issues arise, administrators contact you needing additional details or documents.

Maintaining Compliance

To remain compliant in MA once licensed:

  • Display licenses prominently onsite
  • Complete renewal processes prior to expiration
  • Remit required tax payments on time
  • Maintain necessary insurance policies
  • Report changes to ownership, activities or locations

Obtaining Federal Registrations

Don’t forget to obtain federal registrations such as an Employer ID Number (EIN) and trademark protections.

Special Considerations

Businesses like liquor stores, healthcare providers, construction supervisors, fisheries, and the gaming industry in Massachusetts have specific licensing requirements. Always check these regulations.

Registering Your Business Name

Trade name registrations in MA can be completed via the Secretary of State’s Corporate Division.

Massachusetts Tax Permits

Common tax permits include Sales & Use Tax Registration and Room Occupancy Excise Permits.


Who Needs a Massachusetts Business License? Most commercial entities in MA, including retailers, healthcare providers, and hospitality companies, require a license.

What Do Licenses Cost in Massachusetts? License costs range from $50 to over $3,000, varying based on the business activities. Renewal fees also apply.

How long does it take to get a license in Massachusetts? The processing time for obtaining a business license in Massachusetts is generally 10-15 business days for online applications, but can vary depending on the specific license and requirements.

Additional Resources

For more information, explore additional resources available on Massachusetts’ official state websites.

Final Thoughts

Properly licensing your business in Massachusetts is key to legal operation and avoiding penalties. Utilize online application options for a more efficient process.

Priyank Singh

Priyank Singh, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Stilt, specializes in technology-driven financial solutions. He is having experience of starting FinTech Company, understanding regulations and coming up with creative solutions to solve difficult problems.