Board of Selectmen

License - Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages retail licenses are distinguished by where a patron may consume the beverages purchased, i.e. off the premises or on the premises. Off-premises licenses include package stores, convenience stores and supermarkets. There are 5 types of on-premises alcoholic beverages licenses: restaurants, clubs (or veterans club), hotels, taverns, and general on premises.


Retail alcoholic beverages licenses fall into five categories: all alcoholic beverages licenses, wine and malt beverages licenses, wine beverages licenses, malt beverage licenses, and wine and malt with cordials and liqueurs beverages licenses. These licenses may be issued seasonally or annually.

Licensing Procedure

The first step in the licensing process is the granting of an application by the Local Licensing Authorities (the “LLA”). The second step is approval by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (the “ABCC”). If the ABCC approves the license, the LLA issues the license. An applicant for an alcoholic beverages license may not operate a licensed premise until the LLA issues a license. If the application is for a transfer of the license, the licensee is still liable and responsible for the operation of the premises until the license transfer is approved. Moreover, an applicant who operates licensed premises before final approval of a transfer by both the LLA and the ABCC may create serious ramifications for both the buyer and the seller. Operation without a license may be considered evidence of that applicant’s unfitness for a license. It may also lead to revocation of an existing license. In certain circumstances, it opens both the buyer and the seller to possible criminal liability.


Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 138, §15A and 16B, LLA's and the ABCC are required to follow the procedures outlined below each time an application for the sale of alcoholic beverages is filed.

  1. The LLA must note the date and hour an application for an alcoholic beverages license is filed.
  2. The applicant must publish an advertisement, if their regulations require, within 10 days of the application being filed.  The Selectmen's Office will prepare the notice for the applicant to send to a local paper.
  3. A hearing on the application shall not be held sooner than ten (10) days after advertising the hearing.
  4. The applicant must notify abutters by certified mail.  For purposes of liquor license applications (c138(15A)) an abutter is a person whose property directly touches the proposed premises - not someone across the street.  Churches, synagogues, hospitals and public or private elementary or secondary schools located within 500 feet of the premises of a liquor-serving establishment must be notified by registered mail.  The selectmen's office will prepare notices for the applicant to mail.
  5. The LLA must act on an application within thirty (30) days after it is filed.
  6. If the LLA grants the license, the application shall be forwarded to the ABCC no later than three (3) days following such approval.
  7. When the ABCC receives an application that has been approved by the LLA, an investigator will be assigned. The investigator will investigate the proposed licensed premises, as well as the proposed applicant and the source(s) of financing for the transaction. Parties to an application must respond promptly to investigators’ inquiries. Failure to do so will result in a delay of the approval and may result in a denial of the application.
  8. When the ABCC receives the application it is immediately forwarded to the Department of Revenue (“DOR”) and the Division of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”). Both agencies will research the issue of any outstanding tax obligations of both the buyer and the seller for all types of taxes, including sales, meals, withholding, corporate excise, room occupancy, personal income taxes, unemployment insurance, and employer fair share contributions. The ABCC will not approve a license transfer until DOR and DUA attest that the parties have no outstanding tax liabilities to the Commonwealth. The parties are responsible for resolving all tax questions.
  9. Once the LLA receives the ABCC’s approval of an application, it must issue the license within seven (7) days.


If you are interested in obtaining an application for a liquor license, please contact the Selectmen’s Office to make sure one is available.


The application for Liquor License's and any other license transaction can be found on ABCC’s website.  APPLICATIONS MUST BE COMPLETED ON-LINE, PRINTED, SIGNED, AND SUBMITTED TO THE LOCAL LICENSING AUTHORITY. ABCC will not accept an application that is not filled out from their website.


Additional requirements from the Local Licensing Authority and the Commonweatlh of Massachusetts can be found below.  For your convenience the checklist contains items required by ABCC, the Commonwealth of MA, and the Town of Douglas.  All items should be turned into the Selectmen's Office.   

Please note: All applications must be reviewed by other Boards / Committees / Departments.  The review process will take about two weeks.  Once reviewed; the application will be placed on the Board of Selectmen’s agenda.  The Board of Selectmen meet the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month so please plan accordingly. 

http://www.douglasma.org/eecontent/BOS/Board_of_Selectmen_License_Fees.pdfFee Schedule