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How to get a food service permit

How to get a food service permit

You can apply for a permit while your business is being built, or get a permit for an existing business.

Last updated: 7/15/16
Step
1

Before you get started

You need to apply for a permit and get an inspection before you can serve food to the public. We inspect food service businesses at least once a year, but usually twice per year. We add businesses to our online database as we do inspections.

If your restaurant is under construction, you can still start the process to get a food service permit. We need to first review your plans and then you can get the permit.

You need to pay a fee when you apply. We take checks or money orders made payable to the City of Boston. Here are the permit fees:

  • Sit-down restaurant with no take out: $200 minimum for up to 100 seats, then it's $1 for each seat after 100.
  • Sit-down or not with take out: $200 minimum for first year, then the fee is based on gross sales each year.
  • Retail food in a location with less than 2500 square feet: $100 minimum. For each 1000 square fee in excess of 2500, there is an additional $50 fee.
  • Retail food with take out: $300 flat fee
  • Temporary food service permit: $30 first day, $5 each consecutive day after that for no more than 14 days.
Step
2

Get your plans reviewed

Please call us at 617-635-5326 to schedule an appointment to have your plans reviewed. You’ll need to give us several documents, including:

  • your completed food service permit application
  • payment for your permit fees
  • four sets of site plans
  • a copy of your equipment specifications from the manufacturer
  • your Food Plan Review Worksheet
  • a copy of your menu with consumer advisories (if they apply to you), and
  • a building permit signed by our inspectors. You’ll need to give your signed plans and any building applications to our Building Division, and pay them any fees that you owe.

If and when your plans are reviewed and approved, the supervisor in the Health Division who reviewed your plans will stamp them. In some cases, you may need to make some minor changes and come back to our office.

Step
3

Get your info together

After we review your plans, you’ll need to bring several documents to our office to apply for the permit, including:

Please note: If you didn’t pay your fees when you had your plans reviewed, we need your payment when you come to our office. We also need copies of workman’s compensation insurance and your Federal Tax ID number or Social Security number.

Step
4

Give us your info and get an inspection

You can bring your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Division of Health Inspections
1010 Massachusetts Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. If you are
 paying with cash or credit card, you need to make your payment by 3:30 p.m.

 

If all of your paperwork in order, we will set up a pre-operational inspection request. The health inspector will tell you if you need to fix anything and sign off on your application if you're approved.

Step
1

Before you get started

You need to apply for a permit and get an inspection before you can serve food to the public. We inspect food service businesses at least once a year, but usually twice each year. We add businesses to our online database as we do inspections.

If you have an existing restaurant that hasn't opened yet, you need to apply for the permit and get an inspection.

You need to pay a fee when you apply. We take checks or money orders made payable to the City of Boston. Here are the permit fees:

  • Sit-down restaurant with no take out: $200 minimum for up to 100 seats, then it's $1 for each seat after 100.
  • Sit-down or not with take out: $200 minimum for first year, then the fee is based on gross sales each year.
  • Retail food in a location with less than 2500 square feet: $100 minimum. For each 1000 square fee in excess of 2500, there is an additional $50 fee.
  • Retail food with take out: $300 flat fee
  • Temporary food service permit: $30 first day, $5 each consecutive day after that for no more than 14 days.
Step
2

Get your info together

When you come to our office, you’ll need to give us several documents, including:

Step
3

Give us your info and get an inspection

You can bring your completed application, documents, and payment to:

Division of Health Inspections
1010 Massachusetts Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
If you are paying with cash or credit card, you need to make your payment by 3:30 p.m.

If all of your paperwork in order, we will set up a pre-operational inspection request. The health inspector will tell you if you need to fix anything and sign off on your application if you're approved.

Contact:
Inspectional Services
1010 Massachusetts Avenue
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
United States
More resources

Learn more about how we handle food service permitting. We also have information on getting certified as a food manager.