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How to get an annual live entertainment license

How to get an annual live entertainment license

You can get a new license, change an existing license, or renew your existing license.

Step
1

Before you get started

You must get an entertainment license for certain activities or events. You'll need to apply for a license if:

  • You have a Common Victualler or Alcohol license and are hosting a public show.
  • You're hosting a public show and you plan to charge an admission fee.
  • You're hosting a free public show, but patrons need to pay for certain activities with coins, like an arcade.

Public shows are concerts, dance exhibitions, cabarets, and other events that include:

  • dancing, whether by performers or patrons
  • recorded or live music
  • an amplification system
  • a theatrical play or a film screening
  • a floor show or light show, or
  • any other audio or visual show.

You can get more detailed information about regulations from this City booklet.

Before you apply, you also need to make sure to pay any outstanding bills with the City.

Step
2

Get your application together

Print out and complete the application for a live entertainment license. Live entertainment is considered entertainment with live performers such as instrumental and vocal music, karaoke, disc jockey, dancing, theater shows, etc. 

Depending on which application you are applying for, you may need to include the following documents:

The application fee depends on the size and type of entertainment you will be having. To get an idea of what it costs to apply, you can view a schedule of common fees. We take certified checks, business checks, money orders, credit cards (no American Express), or debit cards.

Step
3

Give us your application

Bring or mail your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square, Room 817
Boston, MA 02215

You can only make your payment by mail with a certified check, business check or a money order.

Step
4

Wait for our response

We will let you know about your application in three to four weeks. You may be subject to a hearing if you are applying for live entertainment.

The fee for a hearing is $100, and you need to pay it before the date of the hearing. The manager of record or a corporate officer must be present at the hearing.

Step
1

Before you get started

If you have an annual live entertainment license and want to make a change to it, you need to file an amendment. Changes to a license include:

  • an increase in capacity
  • a change in the type of entertainment
  • the adding or removal of entertainment
  • a change of manager
  • a change in hours or in your business name, or
  • other changes that affect your license.

Please note: If your business has a new owner, you’ll need to file a new application. Entertainment licenses are non-transferrable.

Step
2

Get your application together

Print out and complete the general application to amend your license. Make sure to give us a description of the change and the reason for it.

There are also some more forms you need to fill out if they apply to your situation:

  • If the manager of your business has changed, you need to complete the Change of Manager form. You need to include a current copy of your Alcohol or Common Victualler license with this change, and you may be subject to a hearing for this change. 
  • If the corporate officers of your business have changed, please complete the Change of Corporate Officers form.
  • If the name of your business has changed, you need to complete the Change of Name or D/B/A form. You will need to include your updated Business Certificate.

To change your license, the application fee is $35 per change. If you are changing the entertainment categories or capacity, you may be subject to additional fees. We take certified checks, business checks, money orders, credit cards or debit cards.

Step
3

Give us your application

Bring or mail your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square, Room 817
Boston, MA 02215

You can only make your payment by mail with a certified check, business check or a money order.

Step
4

Wait for our response

We will let you know about your application in three to four weeks. We may also schedule a hearing with you after getting your application.

The fee for a hearing is $100, and you need to pay it before the date of the hearing. 

Step
1

We send you a renewal application

We mail renewal application packets at the end of October. If you do not receive your renewal packet by the first week of November, please call us at 617-635-4165.

You have until the end of November to complete and return your renewal application without a late fee penalty.

Step
2

Complete your renewal application

Your renewal packet will include an application for you to complete and return to us. Please follow the instructions carefully. The packet has other documents you need to fill out, including:

You will need to gather and submit copies of other documents that are not included in the packet, including:

  • an Inspection Certificate
  • a Place of Assembly permit 
  • a Corporate Annual Report
  • a Common Victualler license, a Alcohol Beverage license or your AB/CV renewal application

We created a detailed checklist to help you gather your documents. The renewal application fee is $35 in addition to your entertainment fee. We take certified or business checks, money orders, credit cards (No American Express) or debit cards. 

Step
3

Give us your application

Bring or mail your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square, Room 817
Boston, MA 02215

You can only make your payment by mail with a certified check, business check or a money order.

Contact:
Consumer Affairs and Licensing
1 City Hall Square
Room 817
Boston, MA 02201-2039
United States
Questions?

Call us at 617-635-4165.

Safety

Learn the safety guidelines for entertainment events. We've also created a safety checklist.

Keep in mind

  • Entertainment fees are subject to change. Please contact Consumer Affairs and Licensing for your entertainment application fee.
  • If you are a new owner, you will need to apply for a new non-live or live entertainment license. Entertainment licenses are non transferrable.
  • Changes to your renewal application must be made prior to your renewal application submission. Please submit the appropriate amendment forms for your changes. Changes will be subject to additional fees. 
  • We will not accept incomplete renewal applications.
  • Upon your submission of your completed renewal application, you will be issued an entertainment license for the next year.