Your event may require the purchase of a Liquor License for alcohol and/or an Entertainment License. Through the event registration process, the Student Activities Office, Residential Life Programs, FSILG Office, or MIT Events and Information Center will assist your group in determining if you need any licenses. Licenses must be posted at the event. To obtain licenses, please take the following steps:
- Complete the first five (5) steps of the Event Registration Form. For more information regarding Event Registration, please see the "Event Registration" chapter.
- At least 3 business days before the event, you must take the Event Registration Form to the Cambridge Licensing Commission, 831 Massachusetts Avenue, First Floor (349-6140) to apply for necessary license(s). Make check payable to "City of Cambridge." Note: This is step six (6) of Event Registration.
- Complete the seventh and final step of Event Registration by returning the completed Event Registration Form, along with copies of City licenses, to the appropriate registration office (either Student Activities Office or MIT Events and Information Center 7-121) and scheduling office.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts defines entertainment as "theatrical exhibitions, public shows, public amusements and exhibitions of every description." A license should be obtained if an event:
- will have entertainment rather than academic learning as its main purpose AND
- will include either an admission fee/mandatory donation OR the serving of alcohol. The cost of a one-day Entertainment license is $40.00.
A One Day Liquor License is required when:
- alcohol will be sold at the event (i.e. a cash bar)
Please note that a liquor license is not required when alcohol is available but not sold and there is no fee collected prior to the event, i.e. tickets or membership fees. (applies to Departments only). If a liquor license is needed for an event, the Event Host who signs the Event Registration Form must be 21 years of age with a valid Massachusetts Driver's License, Massachusetts State Liquor ID, Military ID, or Passport and be willing to remain present and not consume alcohol throughout the entire event. If alcohol will be sold and served through a third party vendor cash bar, the Event Host may still be responsible for obtaining the liquor license. The Event Host is responsible for following the alcohol laws and guidelines and ensuring that the party is safe.
The cost of a Liquor License is as follows (checks to be made payable to "City of Cambridge"):
- $55 - One Day Beer/Wine License for 100 Persons or Fewer
- $75 - One Day Beer/Wine License for Over 100 Persons
- $100 - One Day All Alcohol License for 100 Persons or Fewer
- $120 - One Day All Alcohol License for Over 100 Persons
Gambling is prohibited by Massachusetts State Law.
Any group wishing to hold a raffle in the City of Cambridge must obtain a One Day Raffle License ($10 per day) from the City of Cambridge, Licensing Commission located at 831 Massachusetts Avenue (349-6140). It may be helpful to bring along a flyer or other information regarding the raffle to the Licensing Commission when purchasing the license. The license is required for the day of the drawing, however, it is suggested that the license be purchased before raffle tickets go on sale and that a copy of the license be available wherever the tickets are sold. Please note that events where tickets are given away rather than sold does not constitute a raffle and does not require a raffle permit. Only non-profit Cambride-based organizations are allowed to apply for this license. If a non-profit organization is from another city, then a Cambridge resident must sign the application. The sponsoring group is also required to pay the state Lottery Commission 5% of the raffle proceeds.
The City of Cambridge does NOT allow Las Vegas and/or Casino nights or similar games of chance unless:
- the Organization meets the Criteria set by the State Attorney General, AND
- the event is approved by the License Commission after a public hearing, AND
- the event is approved by the City of Cambridge Police Commissioner.
It takes approximately one month from date of application until the required hearing date.
If a group is selling items at an event, the Event Host must apply for a Peddler's License. This license will cover all food sales at the event. (This does not apply to promotional booths and tables.)
If you are interested in holding a carnival with or without rides and the event is being held on MIT property, you should contact the Executive Officer of the License Commission in writing one month in advance of your proposed event date with all the details of the proposed event. If the proposed event is not being held on MIT property, you must apply to the City of Cambridge Department of Public Works Operations Manager at 349-4800 for a meeting in front of the City Special Events Committee. A full listing of the carnival procedure can be found in W20-549. For more information regarding MIT's carnival procedures and the new amusement policy. See web.mit.edu/environment/ehs/event_safety.html.
Cambridge License Commission
Monday, 8:30AM to 8:00PM.
Tuesday through Thursday, 8:30AM to 5:00PM
Friday, 8:30AM to 12:00 noon.
For more licensing information, see the Student Activities Office in W20-549.