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Starting a business

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Small businesses and entrepreneurs play an important role in the vibrancy of our city: they provide quality jobs, help power our economy, and revitalize neighborhoods. Use the tools below to start, manage, and grow a business in Boston.

Register a Business

Contact: City Clerk

If you’re looking to operate a business in Boston, you’ll need to register it with the City. Any person, partnership, or corporation doing business in Boston under a name other than their own must file a "doing business as" (d/b/a) certificate. The certificate is renewable every four years through the Office of the City Clerk.


The filing fee is $65 and is payable by cash, check, money order, or debit card. There is an additional $35 fee for anyone who doesn’t live in Massachusetts but conducts business here.

Apply for a business certificate

Step 1: Fill out the New Business Certificate Application
  • List the name and address of your business. Post office boxes are not acceptable as a business address.
  • List the name and address of each individual who has an interest in the business.

New Business Certificate Application

Step 2: Get the application notarized
  • Option 1: Get the application notarized at City Hall when you drop off your application and fees.
  • Option 2: Contact a notary public before mailing in your application and fees to the City Clerk.
Step 3: Submit the application in person or by mail
  • Option 1: Go to City Hall between 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.
    Boston City Hall
    City Clerk, Room 601
    1 City Hall Square
    Boston, MA 02201
  • Option 2: Go to the City Hall to Go Truck when it’s in your neighborhood. Check the schedule
  • Option 3: Mail the application, fee, and a self addressed stamped envelope to the City Clerk. Make sure to include “ATTN: Business Certificates” on the envelope.

Financing and Assistance

Economic Development and the Boston Redevelopment Authority have a variety of tools to help fund your new business. A few of our favorites are listed below.

Boston Buying Power

Controls electricity and natural gas costs by participating in a citywide energy buying group.

Boston Main Streets

Provides funding and technical assistance to 20 neighborhood-based Main Streets districts throughout Boston.

Boston Local Development Corporation

Provides loans of up to $150,000 for businesses in, or relocating to, the City of Boston.

Licenses and Forms

Licenses and Forms
Contact: Licensing Board
Who Issues Licenses?

The Licensing Board issues and regulates licenses related to alcohol, food, and lodging in Boston.

The Consumer Affairs and Licensing Division licenses entertainment for restaurants and nightclubs.

Where do applications go?

You’ll submit applications and any fees to the Licensing Board, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, or, if needed, the State’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Depending on the application, you might need to meet with neighborhood associations and have a hearing in front of the Licensing Board.

Common Forms and Applications:

Liquor License: For any food service establishment wanting to serve alcohol.

1-Day Liquor License: For any business or nonprofit wanting to serve alcohol at a one-day event.

Annual Live Entertainment License: For any consumer business wanting to have live music or other entertainment.

Common Victualler License: For any food service establishment wanting to cook, prepare, and serve food.

Expert Advice

Contact: Housing
Connect with an expert

Get answers about permitting and licensing, developing a business plan, and other business issues.

Back Streets Boston

Helps businesses with a range of industrial planning services and strategic advice.

Women Entrepreneurs Boston

Provides skills, technical assistance, and networking for Boston's women entrepreneurs.

U.S. Small Business Administration

Free counseling, advice, and information on starting a small business from accredited counselors.

Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network

Provides confidential assistance with start-ups, business plan development, marketing strategies, and more.

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