Welcome to Massachusetts:
A Primer on Bay State Basics

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Dear Visitor
Massachusetts, located in the heart of New England, is the region's most populous state. Lively urban areas, picturesque seaside communities, and tiny rural towns offer a unique ambiance which each year attracts many new residents. This booklet is designed to provide people contemplating a move to Massachusetts, students arriving to attend our colleges and universities, and those who have recently moved here with specific information on the practical aspects of residency. I hope that visitors, new residents and those considering a move to the Bay State find this booklet a good source of useful information.

William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth

Citizen Information Service

For more than 40 years, Citizen Information Service (CIS) has made state government more accessible to residents of the Commonwealth. It has responded to millions telephone and e-mail inquiries, and has been able to provide immediate answers to approximately ninety-nine percent of those calls. The goal of Citizen Information Service has been to assist citizens connect to the many state agencies where they may seek information on programs and or to seek assistance or redress with the governmental offices that we citizens interact with. While we cannot answer every question the public is invited to send us their questions as they relate to state government. Please understand we do not provide any legal services or opinions, nor do we advocate on behalf of the citizens. You may call, fax or e-mail us at the contact information below.

In addition, CIS produces and distributes a series of publications, including this one, on a diverse range of topics such as the: Citizens' Guide to State Services, Motor Vehicle Excise Information, Safe & Sanitary Housing for Massachusetts Residents, and many more. For a complete listing of brochures and booklets visit Publications, Brochures and Booklets.

Citizen Information Service (CIS)
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1611
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-727-7030
Toll Free: 1-800-392-6090 (within Mass. only)
TTY: 617-878-3889
Fax: 617-742-4528
Hours: M-F, 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
E-mail: cis@sec.state.ma.us


There is no formal procedure for establishing a legal residence in Massachusetts. Voter registration, automobile registration, a driver's license, the appearance of a person's name on a city or town street list, and rent, utility, mortgage or telephone bills normally provide tangible proof of residence. However, individual public or private agencies or institutions may have their own requirements for proof of residence. To be eligible for the resident tuition rate at a public institution of higher learning, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that s/he is a resident and intends to remain permanently or for an indefinite time. For state universities and state colleges, the length of residency is twelve months; for community colleges, it is six months. It is important to check with the institution as several factors are taken into consideration in determining residency.

Bottle Law

Glass, plastic, metal, aluminum and bi-metal containers holding beer and other malt beverages, carbonated soft drinks, and artificially carbonated mineral water are subject to mandatory deposit requirements. Wine, dairy products, natural fruit juices, and alcoholic beverages other than beer and malt are exempt. The refund value is five cents, but may be less in certain instances. Empty containers may be returned to redemption centers or retail outlets which sell or have sold within the past 60 days the same brand, type and size of container. For more information, contact:

Department of Environmental Protection
One Winter Street, 4th floor
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-292-5500
DEP Infoline: 1-800-462-0444 (within Mass. only)


Business License:
MGL Chapter 110 sec.5: (roughly translated and not meant as a legal interpretation) Any individual who is going to do business under a name other than his/her own name must file a business certificate in the town or city hall Clerks' office where the business is to be located, often called a DBA certificate: (Doing Business As). This could be a sole proprietorship, general partnership, or a corporation that wishes to register a DBA name. Or, a business may register by incorporating or becoming an LLC or LLP or other entity type with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. If the owner of the business wishes to register a trademark or service mark, they may file with the Trademarks Section of the Corporations Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. For further information on trademarks, service marks or the incorporation process, see Secretary of the Commonwealth, Corporations Division. NOTE: Some businesses require a separate state license as well as the requirement to register the business. Example: a barber must register their business at either the city or town hall, or, by incorporating with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, as well as being licensed by the Board of Registration. If you have further questions on the licensing of a business, contact: Citizen Information Service at 617-727-7030 or, 1-800-392-6090, hours: M-F 8:45-5. For a listing of telephone numbers to the city and town offices in Massachusetts visit Helpful Telephone Listings for Your City/Town Hall or call Citizen Information Service.

To search a business on file with the Corporations Division contact them at:

Corporations Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1717
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Main Number 617-727-9640
Fax: 617-742-4538
E-mail: corpinfo@sec.state.ma.us

Consumer Protection

If you have a complaint involving the purchase and/or sale of goods and services in a private business transaction, you can contact the local consumer council in your city or town. If your city or town does not have a consumer council, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General. The Consumer Protection Division receives and processes citizen complaints, working closely with consumer complaint groups throughout the state. To file a complaint, obtain a form directly from the Consumer Protection Division. The division will accept individual written complaints and take legal action if a widespread pattern of fraud is found.

Consumer Protection Division
Mailing Address: Office of the Attorney General
One Ashburton Place, 19th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-8400 or
Springfield: 413-784-1240

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation serves as an informational resource to consumers throughout the Commonwealth by publishing brochures on consumer rights in many areas. These include such topics as Mechanics of Auto Repair, Consumer's Guide to Home Improvement, information on Small Claims Court (web only), and three brochures on lemon law for autos (new, used and leased), Tenant Rights and Responsibilities, and many more. The office will be pleased to send you a publication in your area of concern.

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
10 Park Plaza, Suite 5170
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-973-8787
Toll Free: 1-888-283-3757 (within Mass. only)

County Information

An historical note on county government in New England:

Generally speaking, the New England states do not have as active a county government system as compared to the rest of the nation. In Massachusetts for example, state roads (usually numbered routes) are cared for by the state highway department (MassHighway), while individual communities care for non-state roads within their borders. The lack of an comprehensive county government system can cause some confusion for people who move here from other parts of the nation as the opposite is usually true in their former home state. Questions related to counties may be directed to: Citizen Information Service.

The 14 counties are: Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester.

Drinking Age

The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21 (since 6/1/85). Proper identification is a Massachusetts driver's license or a liquor purchase identification card issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. While uncommon, establishments that sell liquor may choose not to accept out of state identification cards or driver's licenses.

Drug Laws

Conviction for the possession of more than one ounce of marijuana in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than six months or a fine of $500.00, or both (M.G.L Ch.94C :34.  Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana shall be a civil offense with a $100.00 fine and forfeiture of the marijuana (M.G.L Ch.94C :32L). Any person who is convicted for the first time and who has never been convicted of any offense relating to narcotic or harmful drugs shall be placed on probation unless the court files a written memorandum stating the reasons for not doing so. Possession with intent to distribute or the manufacture of PCP or Angel Dust carries a one-year mandatory prison sentence in Massachusetts. Possession of large quantities of illegal drugs with intent to distribute carries various mandatory prison sentences based on the quantity of the drug. The sale of drug paraphernalia in Massachusetts is illegal.


Day Care
The Department of Early Education and Care will provide lists of licensed day care facilities if you call or write:

Department of Early Education and Care
51 Sleeper Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02210
Tel: 617-988-6600

Public Schools K-12
The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, consisting of citizens appointed by the governor, sets policies and establishes state standards for educational programs in all public elementary and secondary schools. Cities and Towns run their school systems individually with the guidance of the board. Each town and city school board shall establish the permissible and mandatory ages for school attendance and shall consider the advisability of raising the minimum age for attendance in the first grade to the national average age for such attendance. The age varies from 5-6. To view a specific city or towns' kindergarten admittance age and month, visit www.doe.mass.edu/kindergarten/default.html.

For reports on public schools and school systems, visit profiles.doe.mass.edu.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906
Tel: 781-338-3000

Private Schools
Information on private schools, such as accreditation, can be obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and from the following association:

New England Association of Schools and Colleges
3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100
Burlington, MA 01803-4514
Tel: 781-425-7700
Toll Free: 1-855-886-3272

Higher Education
There are 122 institutions of higher learning, public and private, located in Massachusetts. The state institutions include 15 two-year community colleges, nine four-year state colleges, and five state university campuses. In addition, the state colleges include two schools with specialized curricula: Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and the Massachusetts College of Art. The University of Massachusetts campuses are spread across Massachusetts, with the flagship campus in Amherst, the medical school in Worcester, as well as campuses in Boston, Lowell, and Dartmouth. To be eligible for the resident tuition rate, the applicant must be able to indicate residency (physical presence) and twelve months domicile in Massachusetts with intent to stay prior to the date of entry into the state college or university (six months for community colleges).

Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
One Ashburton Place, Room 1401
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-994-6950

Financial Aid for Students
The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) is primarily responsible for the management and oversight of all state funded financial aid programs and advises the Board of Higher Education about financial aid policy matters of concern to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to its financial aid responsibilities, OSFA is the principal agency for promoting access to higher education through early awareness initiatives that foster the recognition of college as a viable postsecondary option and the availability of financial aid resources to help students and families meet college costs.

Office of Student Financial Assistance
Department of Higher Education
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, MA 02151
Tel: 617-391-6070

Since 1956 American Student Assistance (ASA) has been helping students to successfully fulfill a program of higher education, originally by making guaranteed student loans possible and more recently by helping students complete a program of higher education financing and repayment. ASA is a private nonprofit whose public purpose mission is to empower students and alumni to successfully manage and repay their college loan debt.

American Student Assistance
100 Cambridge Street
Suite 1600
Boston, MA 02114
Toll Free: 1-800-999-9080

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) is a not-for-profit quasi-public entity serving students and families in Massachusetts and out-of-state students and families pursuing higher education in Massachusetts. MEFA's mission is to increase access and college affordability across the Commonwealth through low-cost financing alternatives, college savings programs and educational financing expertise on planning, saving and paying for higher education.

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)
160 Federal Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
General Information 1-800-449-MEFA (6332)

Student Opportunities
Volunteer Solutions in Boston maintains a list of a great variety of volunteer jobs. The website has contact information with many public and non-profit agencies. For information, contact:

Voluntary Solutions
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
51 Sleeper Street
Boston, MA 02210
Tel: 617-624-8000

City Year, an AmeriCorps program, is a national service organization which unites young adults, ages 17 to 23, from diverse racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time community service, leadership development, and civic engagement. The corps includes college graduates, high school graduates, and young people without high school diplomas. City Year's comprehensive educational program includes required GED classes for corps members who have not graduated from high school, college and career counseling, and overnight training retreats. Upon graduation Corps members are eligible for exclusive scholarships to dozens of colleges and universities, future service opportunities, access to online career resource center, and networking opportunities with more than 15,000 alumni. City Year is an innovative and multifaceted service organization which seeks to address unmet community needs, break down barriers of class and race, inspire citizens to civic action, and strengthen the bonds of community. By tapping the energy and commitment of young people, City Year is "putting idealism to work."

City Year Boston
287 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-927-2500
Fax: 617-927-2560

The Department of Career Services maintains job-matching centers for general employment across the state. Although the division is mainly oriented toward providing permanent employment, there are limited opportunities for temporary and/or part-time work. For more information, contact:

Department of Career Services
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development
19 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-626-5300

Teacher Licensure
Teachers and other professional education personnel must be certified by the Department of Education. For more information, contact:

Teacher Certification and Licensing
Department of Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148
Tel: 781-338-6600


Employment Opportunities
Employment opportunities are found in a wide range of manufacturing and commercial enterprises in such diverse fields as computer science, technological research, textile, and tourist industries. One of the best places to get information on the jobs and housing available in Massachusetts is the classified section of a local newspaper. For the greater Boston area, the most complete classifieds are available in the Sunday editions of The Boston Globe or The Boston Herald.

The Boston Globe
135 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02107
Tel: 617-929-2000

The Boston Herald
70 Fargo Street
Boston, MA 02210
Tel: 617-426-3000

Minimum wage and Sick Time Requirements
The minimum wage in Massachusetts is currently: $9.00 per hour. It is scheduled to change on January 1, 2016 to $10.00 per hour and on January 1, 2017 to $11.00 per hour. Wait staff, service employees and service bartenders may be paid the service rate of $2.63 per hour if they regularly receive tips of more than $20 a month, and if their average hourly tips, when added to the service rate, are equal to or exceed the basic minimum wage. M.G.L. Chapter 151, section 7. Employers may allow a tip credit of 40% on the minimum state wage for those employees who earn at least $30.00 a month in tips. Questions related to sick time eligibility and whether or not it is to be paid or unpaid as well as holiday pay questions may be directed to the following division:

Fair Labor Division
Office of the Attorney General
100 Cambridge Street, 12th Floor
Boston, MA

Mailing Address: One Ashburton Place, Room 1813
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-3465

Gun Laws

In 1998 under the Gun Control Act (M.G.L. c. 140, s. 131), Massachusetts enacted one of the toughest gun control laws in the country. This law has significantly changed the requirements regarding the purchase, possession, carrying, storage, and licensing of firearms. The summary below highlights a few of the key points. However, it in no way sets forth all of the obligations and rights of individuals with regard to firearms laws. Local police departments have the authority to issue gun permits. Such permits include licenses to carry (L.T.C.) and firearm identification cards (F.I.D.). There are two types of licenses to carry. A Class A license to carry allows an individual to purchase, possess and carry large-capacity handguns, rifles, shotguns and feeding devices. It is the only permit that authorizes a holder to carry a concealed and loaded firearm. A Class B license to carry permits a holder to purchase, possess, and carry non-large capacity handguns and large-capacity rifles and shotguns. As a result of the Gun Control Act of 1998, any F.I.D. card issued prior to 10/21/98 expired on 6/30/2000. There are two types of firearm identification cards. Unrestricted firearm identification cards allow for the possession of non-large capacity rifles and shotguns. The restricted version of the card is available solely for the possession of chemical sprays such as mace or pepper spray. Massachusetts gun laws require that all firearms, rifles, and shotguns be stored in a secured, locked container or equipped with a tamper resistant mechanical lock or other safety devices properly engaged as to render the weapon inoperable by unlawful users. Moreover, every firearm and large capacity weapon sold in the Commonwealth must be equipped with a safety device (trigger lock) designed to prevent its discharge by an unauthorized user. New residents have 60 days to obtain proper licenses. Non-residents may obtain temporary licenses to carry through the Firearms Record Bureau in order to possess and transport firearms through the Commonwealth. All non-residents must comply with all Massachusetts laws regarding transportation and storage while in the Commonwealth. No one may possess, transport or store any type of gun in a building or on the grounds of any school without prior authorization by the board in charge of the school. Chapter 150 of the Acts of 2004 converted the ban on certain assault weapons, extended the term of FID cards and LTC (License to Carry) from 4 to 6 years (applicable to licenses issued on or after Sept.14, 2004), added a provision for a 90-day grace period following the expiration of a license, and exempted the LTC renewal fee for active law enforcement officers. For more information please contact your local police department or:

Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
One Ashburton Place, Suite 2133
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-7775

To check for criminal or gun records, contact:

Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
Executive Office of Public Safety
200 Arlington Street, Suite 2200
Chelsea, MA 02150
Tel: 617-660-4600


AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
For information and referral, contact:
Statewide AIDS Hotline: 1-800-235-2331
Centers for Disease Control: 1-800-232-4636 (cdc-info)

For information on sites in Massachusetts and scheduling for the anonymous alternative blood testing program for HTLV-III Antibody, contact:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Office of HIV/AIDS
250 Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-624-5303
TTY: 617-624-6001

Communicable and Venereal Disease/STD
The Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention works with state venereal disease clinics in the outpatient departments of general hospitals to provide diagnosis, laboratory work, and treatment of venereal diseases. The basic services of the clinics are free of charge. For referral to these clinics, students may contact their college infirmary, private hospitals in their area, or regional offices of the Department of Public Health.

Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention
Department of Public Health
305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Tel: 617-983-6550

To locate a dentist in your area, contact:

Massachusetts Dental Society
Two Willow Street, Suite 200
Southborough, MA 01745
Toll Free: 1-800-342-8747

To locate a doctor in your area, contact:

Massachusetts Medical Society
Waltham Woods Corporate Center
860 Winter Street
Waltham, MA 02451-1411
Tel: 781-893-4610
Toll-free: 1-800-322-2303 x7311

You can also call local hospitals and ask for a list of physicians. To locate a specialist, call any teaching hospital (in Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Tufts-New England Medical Center) and ask for the appropriate department for references. To check the background, disciplinary history of a physician, or licensing/credentialing/complaint info, contact:

Board of Registration in Medicine
Department of Public Health
200 Harvard Mill Square, Suite 330
Wakefield, MA 01880
Tel: 781-876-8200
Toll Free: 1-800-377-0550
Physician Profiles: 617-654-9830
Email: ma.profiles@state.ma.us

Drug Rehabilitation
The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services provides a comprehensive program for drug abuse treatment and prevention. The office also encourages statewide, regional, and local programs for the prevention and treatment of drug dependency through cooperation of interested public agencies and private organizations. Contact the Bureau for referrals. 

Department of Public Health
Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
250 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02108-4609
Tel: 617-624-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-327-5050
TTY Toll Free: 1-888-448-8321
Fax: 617-624-5185

Mental Health
The Department of Mental Health is responsible for coordinating and providing services for the mentally ill and for citizens in need of help in coping with problems. The range of mental health care services includes outpatient counseling services, crisis intervention, inpatient care at state hospitals, residential programs, day treatment, and after care services, and social rehabilitation clubs. Services are organized on an area basis. Contact the Department of Mental Health for a referral to the appropriate area office.

Department of Mental Health
25 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114-2575
Tel: 617-626-8000
Toll Free: 1-800-221-0053 (within Mass. only)
TTY: 617-727-9842

Poison Prevention
The Poison Prevention Program is administered by the Injury Prevention and Control Program in partnership with the Regional Center for Poison Prevention and Control. The mission of the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention is to provide assistance and expertise in the medical diagnosis, management and prevention of poisonings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Center is located at Children's Hospital, Boston, MA and operates a toll-free, 24-hour phone line for poisoning emergencies and information.

Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Toll Free: Emergency: 1-800-222-1222
Toll Free: Emergency TTY/TDD: 1-888-244-5313

Suicide Prevention
The Samaritans is an international suicide prevention organization whose trained volunteers provide telephone befriending 24 hours a day for people who are suicidal, lonely, or depressed. Certain centers are also open for personal visits seven days a week from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. This service is both free and confidential. It is not affiliated with any religious organization. To contact the Samaritans, call:

The Samaritans of Greater Boston
41 West Street
Boston, MA 02111
Tel: 617-536-2460
Statewide Helpline Toll Free: 1-877-870-4673 (HOPE)


In Massachusetts certain holidays are subject to laws which restrict the type of work that may be performed as well as the kind of business and commercial activities that may remain open. Only those holidays marked with asterisks (*) have certain restrictions. On holidays listed without asterisks, business and commercial activities may operate as usual. Please Note: Only retail establishments may open during the holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Retail establishments which operate on New Year's Day, Columbus Day after 12:00 noon, or on November 11 after 1:00 pm are required to pay their employees time and one-half. Retail establishments which operate on Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day are required to pay time and one-half if at least eight employees are on the payroll in the week prior to the holiday. For questions on holidays, contact Citizen Information Service.

Massachusetts Holidays
The chart below lists all legal holidays observed in Massachusetts. State, county, and municipal offices are closed on all of these days. Federal offices are only closed on holidays which the federal government recognizes (New Year's Day, Martin Luther King's Birthday, George Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). The term "federal holiday" is not applicable to individual states and the private sector since each state has jurisdiction over its holidays.

New Year’s Day - January 1st

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday - Third Monday in January

Washington’s Birthday - Third Monday in February

Patriot’s Day - Third Monday in April

Memorial Day**(1) - Last Monday in May

Independence Day - July 4th**

Labor Day** - First Monday in September

Columbus Day*(2) - Second Monday in October (Restrictions until 12 noon)

Veterans’ Day*(2) - November 11th* (Restrictions until 1pm)

Thanksgiving Day*(1) - Customarily the fourth Thursday in November

Christmas Day*(1) - December 25th

* - Full restrictions apply for ALL commerce
** - Restrictions apply except to retail
(1) Liquor Stores must be closed for Memorial, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Days.
(2) Many companies operate all day on these holidays, pending obtaining a local permit.
(3) All holidays falling on Sunday must be observed on Monday, under state law. Saturday holidays are observed on Saturday.

Wages paid on holidays
Questions about wages paid to employees on holidays should be directed to:

Fair Labor Division
Office of the Attorney General
100 Cambridge Street
Mailing Address: One Ashburton Place, Room 1813
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-3465
TTY: 617-727-4765


Housing Opportunities
Massachusetts' 351 communities offer housing in a variety of geographical settings. Cost and availability vary according to location. The Department of Housing and Community Development oversees state programs relating to the concerns of the Commonwealth's cities and towns addressing their municipal management and community development agendas. It has direct management responsibility for over 70 different housing and community development programs. The Department of Housing and Community Development contact:

Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 300
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-573-1100

The MassAccess Housing Registry helps people to find affordable housing in Massachusetts. A key feature of the Registry is to highlight homes for people with disabilities who need accessible or barrier-free housing. For more information please visit the following website, where additional need-based contacts are listed:

Citizen's Housing and Planning Association
18 Tremont Street, Suite 401
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-742-0820
Fax: 617-742-3953

For the greater Boston area, the most complete listings of apartment rentals or houses for sale are available in The Boston Globe, or The Boston Herald, or contact a local licensed real estate agent.

The Boston Globe
135 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02107
Tel: 617-929-2000

The Boston Herald
70 Fargo Street
Boston, MA 02210
Tel: 617-426-3000


Sanitary Code
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health establishes regulations detailing the standards which must be maintained by landlords and tenants. The Sanitary Code standards, entitled Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation, apply to every dwelling unit or rooming house unit in Massachusetts which is used for living, sleeping, cooking and eating. For information about these regulations, call your local board of health which has the primary responsibility for their enforcement. You can also obtain from Citizen Information Service a pamphlet entitled Safe and Sanitary Housing for Massachusetts Residents which highlights these regulations.

Security Deposit / Last Month's Rent
When requesting a security deposit (which cannot exceed one month's rent), a landlord is required to give the tenant a receipt and statement of condition which must contain a comprehensive list of any damage existing in the premises. The deposit, upon which is based the going interest rate up to 5%, must be paid at the end of each full year of tenancy and is to be placed in an escrow account. A landlord may also request a last month's rent. The landlord is required to pay the going interest rate up to 5% interest on the last month's rent at the end of each full year of tenancy or at the end of the tenancy if less than one year. Interest on the rent for the last month which is used as a rental payment is not required. The last month's rent does not have to be put into an escrow account. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation publishe two helpful brochures: Tenant Rights and Responsibilities, and Landlord Rights and Responsibilities, questions relating to tenant and landlord issues may be directed to them.

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
10 Park Plaza, Suite 5170
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-973-8787
Toll Free: 1-888-283-3757 (within Massachusetts only)

Identification Cards

State Identification Card for non-drivers
If you are 14 years of age or older, a Massachusetts resident and do not have a valid motor vehicle license, you may apply to a branch office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles for a photo identification card. To apply for the card if you are under 18 years of age, you must have three documents to ascertain your identity, one document providing date of birth, parental consent on the class D, M or D/M license and ID card application, and social security number (SSN) that the RMV can verify with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) as having been issued to you OR an acceptable Denial Notice from the SSA.  If you are over 18 years of age or older you must also have documents proving signature and Massachusetts residency. Home mortgage papers, a pistol permit, a high school yearbook with a person's picture or a W-2 yearly income tax form are other types of documents which are acceptable. The cost is $25.00 and the ID expires every 5 years. If the I.D. is lost, a replacement also costs $25.00. An amended I.D. card also costs $25.00. Contact information to the RMV follows the next entry.

State Liquor Purchase Identification card for non-drivers
If you are 21 years of age or older and you do not have a Massachusetts driver's license, you may apply for a liquor purchase identification card. Application is made in person to any office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The cost is $25.00 and renewal is necessary. The ID is valid for 5 years.
If the card is lost, the entire application procedure must be completed again and a new fee paid of $25.00. The following documents must be presented with the application:

  • a driver's license permit if one has been issued, and
  • a social security number (SSN) that the RMV can verify with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) as having been issued OR an acceptable Denial Notice from the SSA.  If you present a Denial Notice, you must also present proof of acceptable visa status, and I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure), and a current non-U.S. passport.
  • a birth certificate or certificate of naturalization, and
  • one of the following (or two, if there is no driver's license): a school or college record with the signature of the dean attesting to the date of the applicant's birth and with applicant's signature; passport; armed services discharge papers; college I.D. card with picture and signature; employment I.D. card with picture and signature; baptismal record (not preferred but acceptable); U.S. immigration record (not preferred but acceptable).

No photocopies of any record are acceptable. Records and documents of the following type will not be accepted to establish your age: draft cards, charge cards, health insurance cards, vehicle registration, welfare cards. An amended liquor I.D. card costs $25.00. For either State ID or Liquor Purchase ID cards contact the following office:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
Massachusetts Department of Transportation RMV-Division
25 Newport Avenue
Quincy, MA
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889
Tel: 857-368-8000 (for those in area codes: 617, 339, 781, 857, or out of state)
Toll Free: 1-800-858-3926 (for those in area codes: 508, 774, 978, 351, 413)
Toll Free TTY: 1-877-768-8833 (RMV-TTDD)

Individuals with Disabilities

The Massachusetts Office on Disability provides information and referral to handicapped individuals seeking the services of governmental and private organizations whose function is to meet the special needs of the handicapped. For more information, contact:

Massachusetts Office on Disability
Executive Office for Administration and Finance
One Ashburton Place, Room 1305
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-7440
V/TTY Toll Free: 1-800-322-2020 (within Mass. only)

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provides people who have disabilities with information in a variety of areas: career and educational opportunities, accessibility, financial aid, legal assistance, coping skills as well as social, recreational and travel resources. For more information, contact:

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Tel: 617-204-3600
Ombudsman: 617-204-3603
TTY Toll Free: 1-800-245-6543

Licenses and Permits

Boats and Recreational Vehicles
State law requires the registration of all boats that are powered by a motor and operated on public waterways and any ATV or snowmobile in accordance with the provisions of the law (M.G.L. Ch.90B). Registration must be with the Division of Law Enforcement. This can be done either at one of the regional offices or in the Boston office. For more information, contact:

Massachusetts Environmental Police
Registration Bureau – Main Office
251 Causeway Street, Suite 101
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-626-1610

Licenses to hunt and fish in fresh water (inland waters) are required of anyone 15 years and over. Anyone under 15 can fish without a license required that the young person must follow all other freshwater fishing laws. Trapping licenses are required for anyone 12 years old and over. Persons between the ages of 12-14 may hunt only when accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older provided that a single bag limit is shared and single firearm/bow is shared between the two people. Only one minor per adult is permitted. All other hunting laws and regulations must be followed. Licenses are issued at various walk-in locations as well as online. For more information contact the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife or Department of Fish & Game:

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
1 Rabbit Hill Road
Westborough, MA 01581
Tel: 508-389-6300
Email: mass.wildlife@state.ma.us

Department of Fish & Game
251 Causeway Street, 1st floor
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-626-1590

All persons who wish to be married in Massachusetts must have a marriage license issued within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: (M.G.L. ch. 207, s. 28). You may apply for a marriage license from any Massachusetts city or town Clerk. The license does not have to be from the community in which you live or where the event takes place so long as the marriage is performed in Massachusetts.

Both parties must apply in person and at the same time to any Massachusetts city or town Clerk's office. Some city and town Clerks require a birth certificate, not a copy of one. Calling ahead is recommended.

Applicants must be 18 years of age; the Clerk may request a birth certificate. A court waver would permit underage marriage.
There is a mandatory three-day waiting period before the license may be issued, while Saturdays and holidays are usually included in the three days, the day of application is often not, be sure to check with the Clerk. A court waver can dispute the waiting period. The license, once issued is valid for 60 days.
As of January 2, 2005, medical certificates are no longer required.

If you wish to have an out-of-state clergyperson solemnize your wedding in Massachusetts they need to acquire, fill out, and return a form called Certificate of Authorization. Application for an out-of-state clergyperson can be downloaded through the 'Commission' Section's website: www.sec.state.ma.us/pre Applications should not be sent more than six (6) weeks in advance, yet prior to the wedding, (Within two weeks preferred) to the Division of Public Records.

Public Records Division
Commissions Section
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-2836
Hours: M-F 8:45-5, closed most holidays

If you wish to have an out-of-state Justice of the Peace, a layperson (family member or friend) solemnize your wedding they must obtain a special one-day appointment from the Governors' office. This takes 6 weeks. Contact the Office of the Governor at:

Office of the Governor
State House, Room 208
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-727-4055

(Upper right side of page find the search field and enter "One Day Marriage" for information and forms.)
For additional information about marriage licenses please contact your city or town clerk's office or Citizen Information Service.

Motor Vehicles, Licensing and Registration

Driver's License (Class D)
If you have a valid license to drive from any state in the U.S. or province of Canada, you are not required to take a driving test to obtain a Massachusetts license. You are, however, required to take a written examination if you have an old license that has expired. At the branch offices of the Registry of Motor Vehicles you may fill out an application form and make an appointment to take the written exam. If you pass the exam and an eye test, a photo license will be issued. Both the license conversion and the new license issued following the written exam is $115.00. It is valid for 5 years. After this, the renewal fee is $50.00. For more information including licensing of motorcycles or other vehicles, contact:

Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
Massachusetts Department of Transportation RMV-Division
25 Newport Avenue
Quincy, MA
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889
Tel: 857-368-8000 (for those in area codes: 617, 339, 781, 857, or out of state)
Ombudsman Office: 857-368-9455
Toll Free: 1-800-858-3926 (for those in area codes: 508, 774, 978, 351, 413)
Toll Free TTY: 1-877-768-8833 (RMV-TTDD)

Massachusetts residents are required to register their cars. You may do so at any branch office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Proof of ownership must be presented in the form of the title to your car. If you come from a state which does not require titles, a bill of sale or a past registration will be accepted. Prior to registering your car, you will also need insurance certification issued by a licensed Massachusetts insurance company, indicating that your car is insured in accordance with Massachusetts laws. For more detailed information go to the Division of Insurance web page: www.mass.gov/doi
Registration costs $60.00 for two years and $60.00 to renew thereafter. Note: Costs are subject to change. An RMV fee schedule can be found at www.massrmv.com.

Sales Tax on Automobiles
If you move into Massachusetts within six months of purchasing a new or used car, you must pay either the full sales tax on the car or the difference between the Massachusetts sales tax and that of the state where the car was purchased. More specifically, if Massachusetts:

  • has reciprocity with the state and you have proof that the sales tax was paid in that state, you have only to pay the difference between the tax rates of the two states.
  • does not have reciprocity with the state where the car was purchased, then you must pay the full Massachusetts sales tax. No sales tax has to be paid if the car was purchased out of state more than six months prior to your move.

Within seven days after registering your car in Massachusetts, you must have it inspected at any gas station or automobile repair shop which has been certified by the Registry of Motor Vehicles as an official inspection station. An inspection maintenance program requires both a yearly safety and emissions level inspection of motor vehicles. Motor vehicles that are more than 15 years old, that have a maximum speed of 25 m.p.h. or less, that have a diesel engine, that have a registered weight of 8,500 pounds or more, are motorcycles, or are new vehicles being registered for the first time are exempt from the emissions part of the inspection. The Mass vehicle check for a combined safety and emissions inspection or a safety only inspection is $35.00. For information and locations of inspection stations in Massachusetts please contact the RMV.

Seat Belts
All passengers in vehicles must wear seat belts. Violators must pay a $25.00 fine if a driver is stopped for a motor vehicle infraction and an officer finds that any passenger is not wearing a seat belt. Under the combined safety and emissions inspection regulations, safety belts are required for motor vehicles where such safety belts were installed as original equipment. In addition, each passenger over 16 years of age not properly fastened in will be fined individually. Children five years of age or under must be protected with an approved child passenger restraint such as an infant, toddler, convertible, or booster seat until they reach 80 lbs. Under the Child Passenger Safety Law, M.G.L. ch. 90, s. 7AA, passengers who are under age eight years old must be fastened and secured by a child passenger restraint, (child or booster seat as appropriate) unless such passenger measures more than 57 inches in height. The child passenger restraint shall be properly fastened and secured according to manufacturer's instruction. Unless required to be secured by a child passenger restraint device such as a child or booster seat, all children less than 13 years of age shall wear a seat belt adjusted and fastened according to manufacturer's instructions. Child passenger restraint devices are specifically designed seating system which meets the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety. For inspections of car seats please contact the toll free number listed below.

Child Passenger Safety Program
Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
One Ashburton Place Room 1301
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-7775
Toll-free: 1-877-392-5956

Professions and Trades

Boards of Registration
Licenses are required for certain professions and trades in Massachusetts. State licenses are issued within Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by the following Boards of Registration:

Allied Health Professions (Athletic Trainers, Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapy Facility)
Allied Mental Health and Human Service Professionals (Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapists, Rehabilitation Counselors, Educational Psychologist)
Cosmetologists (Aestheticians, Beauticians, Hairdresser, Manicurist
Dieticians and Nutritionists
Dispensing Opticians
Drinking Water Supply Facility Operators
Electricians (Firewarning, Alarm and other Power-Limited Systems Technicians and contractors)
Embalming and Funeral Directing
Engineers (Professional) and Land Surveyors
Health Officers (Certified)
Hearing Instrument Specialists
Home Inspectors
Landscape Architects
Massage Therapist
Plumbers and Gasfitters
Public Accountancy
Radio and Television Technicians
Real Estate Appraisers
Real Estate Brokers & Salespeople
Sheet Metal Workers
Social Workers
Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
Veterinary Medicine

For more information contact:
Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation (OCABR)
Division of Professional Licensure
1000 Washington Street, Suite 710
Boston, MA 02118-6100
Tel: 617-727-3074

Public Transportation

(General Edward Lawrence) Logan International Airport is the largest passenger and air cargo terminal in New England.

Logan International Airport
Massachusetts Port Authority
One Harborside Drive, Suite 2005
Boston, MA 02128-2905
Tel: 617-561-1800
Toll Free: 1-800-235- 6426 (23-LOGAN) or the individual airline.

For a listing of all airlines and terminals, contact:

For a listing of all airports in Massachusetts contact:

MassDOT Aeronautics Division
Logan Office Center
One Harborside Drive, Suite 205N
Boston, MA 02128-2909
Tel: 617-412-3680

Amtrak Trains
Amtrak, a nationwide passenger railroad, offers direct service from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C., and other points along the eastern corridor. For fare and schedule information, contact:

Tel: 617-345-7460 or 1-800-872-7245 (USA-RAIL)

Bus, Subway and Trolley MBTA
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) operates bus, subway and trolley lines, in Boston and surrounding communities.  Unlimited, flexible travel passes offer additional savings to Greater Boston commuters. To obtain a pass, visit the CharlieCard Store located at the Downtown Crossing Concourse, 7 Chauncy Street, Boston MA 02111.  There you will be able to obtain and add value to CharlieCards, CharlieTickets, and all other passes. You can also get your CharlieCard or CharlieTicket from MBTA service agents, station vending machines (tickets only), online at mbta.com, and at licensed retail locations throughout the greater Boston area. For additional information and a current list of licensed retail locations, visit: www.mbta.com.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3910
Boston, MA 02116-3975
Main Switchboard: 617-222-5000
Toll Free:1-800-392-6100
Lost and Found: (for referral to exact line) 617-222-5000
MBTA Police 617-222-1212
Route Maps and Schedules: 617-222-3200
Semester Pass Program: 617-222-2556
Complaints or commendations: Toll Free: 1-800-392-6100

Commuter Rail Trains
Keolis Commuter Services, LLC has been awarded the MBTA contract to run the commuter rail service in Massachusetts. For fare and schedule information contact:

North Shore Commuter Services leaves Boston at North Station and services communities as far as Rockport, Haverhill, Lowell, Ipswich, and Fitchburg.

South Shore Commuter Services leaves Boston at South Station and services communities as far as Worcester, Franklin, Stoughton, and Providence, RI.

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
10 Park Plaza, Suite 3910
Boston, MA 02116-3975
Tel: 617-222-3200

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Highway Division includes the roadways, bridges, and tunnels of the former Massachusetts Highway Department and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The division oversees the Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Jr., Ted Williams, Lieutenant William F. Callahan, William H. Sumner tunnels as well as the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill and Maurice J. Tobin bridges. The Division also includes many bridges and parkways previously under the authority of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Highway Division is responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the Commonwealth's state highways and bridges. The Division is responsible for overseeing traffic safety and engineering activities including the Highway Operations Control Center to ensure safe road and travel conditions. Massachusetts Highway maps are available from this office.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)
Highway Division
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 857-368-4636
TTY: 857-368-0655
Traffic Information on a cellphone: 511
Traffic Information via landline for Metro-Boston area: 617-986-5511
Traffic Information via landline for Central Mass area: 508-499-5511
Traffic Information via landline for Western Mass area: 413-754-5511

Private Bus Companies
Massachusetts is served by many private bus companies which operate in our larger communities and may be served by smaller bus companies in our smaller communities. Check your local telephone listings or internet for fare and schedule information.

Recreational Information

Performing Arts
Bostix, in Quincy Market and Copley Square, Boston, sells tickets for museums, performing arts groups, and other tourist attractions at full price. In addition, you can purchase half-price tickets for day-of-performance, nonprofit, and commercial events, subject to availability.

Arts Boston Administrative Office
31 St. James Avenue, Suite 360
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-262-8632


Boston Athletic Association
185 Dartmouth Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-236-1652

Boston Bruins
TD Garden
100 Legends Way
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-624-1900

Boston Celtics
TD Garden
100 Legends Way
Boston, MA 02114
Toll Free: 1-866-4 CELTIX (423-5849)

Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park
4 Yawkey Way
Boston, MA 02215
Toll Free: 1-877-REDSOX-9 (733-7699)

New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
1 Patriot Pace
Foxborough, MA 02035
Toll Free: 1-800-543-1776

New England Revolution
Gillette Stadium
1 Patriot Pace
Foxborough, MA 02035
Toll Free: 1-877 GET-REVS (438-7387)

State Parks
MassParks maintains the state's beaches, pools, skating rinks, golf courses, fishing areas, boating facilities, bicycle paths, tennis courts, zoos, athletic fields, and historic monuments. For maps and pamphlets, and further information contact:

Department of Conservation and Recreation
251 Causeway Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-626-1250
Toll Free Campground Reservations/Information: 1-877-ICAMPMA (422-6762)

The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism disseminates information on tourist areas in the state. Specific brochures listing ski areas, agricultural fairs, and coming events in Massachusetts are also available. For more information, contact:

Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT)
Department of Business Development
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4510
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-973-8500
Toll Free: 1-800-227-MASS (6277) (U.S. and Canada)

Tax Structure

Automobile Excise Tax
An annual tax is levied by the state but collected at the local level. The rate is $25.00 per thousand dollars of the car's value, as determined by the manufacturer's list price (without options) in the year of manufacture. The tax is figured according to the percentage of the list price. The percentages are as follows:

Year preceding the designated year of manufacture: 50%
Year of designated manufacture: 90%
Second year: 60%
Third year: 40%
Fourth year: 25%
Fifth and subsequent years: 10%

(For more detailed information ask Citizen Information Service for the publication entitled Motor Vehicle Excise Information or visit this link: www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cisexc/excidx.htm.)

Automobile Sales Tax
If you move into Massachusetts within six months of purchasing a new or used car, you must pay either the full sales tax on the car or the difference between the Massachusetts sales tax and that of the state where the car was purchased. More specifically, if Massachusetts:

  • has reciprocity with the state and you have proof that the sales tax was paid in that state, you have only to pay the difference between the tax rates of the two states.
  • does not have reciprocity with the state where the car was purchased, then you must pay the full Massachusetts sales tax. No sales tax has to be paid if the car was purchased out of state more than six months prior to your move.

Cigarette Tax
Massachusetts and the U.S. Federal government implement an excise tax on tobacco products and cigarettes. The Federal tax on cigarettes is overseen by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The Federal tax varies depending on the type of tobacco product. The Federal tax rate equals $1.0066 per pack of 20 cigarettes. The Massachusetts state tax equals $3.51 per pack of 20 cigarettes, and $4.38 per pack of 25. The revenue from the Massachusetts cigarette excise tax provides money for existing funds, generally directed toward health programs and smoking prevention projects.

Gasoline Tax
"Tax per gallon", shall be 24 cents per gallon for automobiles and trucks. Contact the Department of Revenue for information on other types of fuel at 617-887-5070 or visit www.mass.gov/dor

Personal Income Tax
If you live and work in Massachusetts while attending school or permanently you must file a Massachusetts income tax return if your income exceeds $8000.00 If your anticipated income is less than $8000.00, you may ask your employer not to withhold taxes by filing a Massachusetts Employee's Withholding Exemption Certificate (form M-4) with your employer. On the federal level, you must file a tax return if your income is in excess of $4440.00 You can only claim exemption from withholding if last year you did not owe any federal income tax and had a right to a refund of all income tax withheld, and you do not expect this year to owe any federal income tax and expect to have a right to a refund of all income tax withheld. File a Federal Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (form W-4) with your employer. These figures are applicable to students who are single. Check with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue or the federal Internal Revenue Service for further information.

A 5.15 percent tax on earned income from such sources as wages and salaries, unemployment compensation; alimony; Massachusetts bank interest; rents and royalty income; taxable pensions and annuity income; IRA/Keogh distribution; profit or loss from a business or profession; winnings and prizes; unearned income such as dividends and interest (other than Massachusetts savings deposit interest); and capital gains. A declaration of estimated tax must be filed by those who expect to receive more than $500.00 of income subject to Massachusetts taxation which is not subject to Massachusetts withholding.

Department of Revenue
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02204
Tel: 617-887-6367
Toll Free: 1-800-392-6089 (within Mass. only)

Internal Revenue Service
15 New Sudbury Street
Boston, MA 02203
Tel: 617-316-2850
Toll Free: 1-800-829-1040

Sales and Use Tax
A 6.25 percent tax on the retail sale of all items unless exempted by statute is imposed. A 6.25 percent tax on tangible personal property which is used or stored in Massachusetts and upon which a sales tax has not been paid is also paid. Exemptions include food, clothing up to a value of $175.00, fuel for heating, newspapers, ticket sales and prescription drugs. In addition, there is a sales tax on telecommunications services, utilities, and energy (including non-residential electricity, gas, steam, and heating fuel).

Sales Tax on Meals
A 6.25 percent tax is imposed on restaurant and take-out meals. Generally, a food product sold as a grocery item is exempt from the sales tax on meals.

Voter Registration and Elections

If you are a U.S. citizen, a Massachusetts resident, and you will be 18 years old on or before Election Day, you may register to vote at any city or town hall in person, or by mail, by contacting any city or town clerk's office. Social service, welfare, Registry of Motor Vehicle offices, and offices providing services for the disabled also have walk-in registration services available. Colleges, universities, high schools, and vocational schools have registration availability for enrolled students. Registration in Massachusetts is permanent, but you must register again if you move or change your name. For more detailed information ask the Elections Division for the publication titled: Registering and Voting in Massachusetts.

Elections Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 1705
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-727-2828
Toll Free: 1-800-462-VOTE (8683 within Mass. only)
Fax: 617-742-3238
Hours: M-F, 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
E-mail: elections@sec.state.ma.us

Secretary of the Commonwealth Divisions

Address Confidentiality Program
The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) was established by Chapter 409 of the Acts of 2000. Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking often attempt to escape from actual or threatened violence by establishing new addresses. Too often the perpetrator of violence locates the new address. ACP provides a means by which victims may use a confidential address in order to stay safe from actual or threatened violence. In order to be certified as a program participant, the applicant must show that disclosure of his or her address threatens the safety of the applicant or the applicant's children. ACP permits program participants to use a substitute mailing address when interacting with government agencies. The substitute address is used as the program participant's legal residence, as well as work and/or school address. Consequently, government records may be disclosed to the public without identifying the victim's new location.

Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)
PO Box 9120
Chelsea MA 02150-9120
Tel: 617-727-3261
Toll Free: 1-866-SAFE-ADD (723-3133)

Massachusetts Archives & Commonwealth Museum
The Massachusetts Archives preserves access to state government records that are of long-term value to support government operations. Those records relate to government goals, objectives, and actions, or represent documentation of the state's citizens and history. The Archives is mandated to acquire, describe, preserve, and provide access to those records. The division's Records Management Unit works with state and local agencies to ensure that records are properly maintained. In addition, this division trains records custodians in appropriate management techniques, including the appraisal and disposition of government records. The Archives is also the repository of more than 370 years of Massachusetts history, housing such artifacts and documents as early probate and court records, genealogical, and immigration information, and other historical data. The Archives, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is currently preserving and indexing several thousand records from the colonial era of 1630 to 1776.
The collections of the Commonwealth Museum document the history of Massachusetts from its colonial beginnings to the present day. Included among these collections are some of our nation's most important historical treasures, foundation documents of both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the new United States. The exhibits include the 1629 Charter of Massachusetts Bay, the 1691 Charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the 1780 Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

Massachusetts Archives & Commonwealth Museum
220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125
Tel: 617-727-2816
Fax: 617-288-8429
Hours: M-F, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Email: archives@sec.state.ma.us

Corporations Division
The Corporations Division is responsible for filings related to all business and nonprofit corporations organized in Massachusetts and those out-of-state corporations doing business in this state. Information available includes names and addresses of corporate officers and directors, the corporate business office in Massachusetts, the amount of authorized stock, and tax information for publicly-traded corporations. The division also files documents related to limited partnerships, trusts, the uniform commercial code, and trademarks and issues certificates related to corporate status. As of 1/1/96, the division files documents related to limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships. Certified copies of available documents are subject to fees.

Corporations Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1717
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Main Number 617 727-9640
Fax: 617 742-4538 (Not for fax-filings)
E-mail: corpinfo@sec.state.ma.us

Elections Division
The Secretary of the Commonwealth is the state's chief election official. The Elections Division administers state elections, from the distribution and receipt of nomination papers to the printing of ballots for all federal, state and county elections in Massachusetts. In addition, the division conducts public education, outreach and voter registration campaigns, and is constitutionally required to print the Information for Voters booklet, which describes all statewide ballot questions and which is mailed to every household in the Commonwealth. The state of Massachusetts, through the Elections Division, has also been a national model in implementing the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, assuring polling place access for the disabled and elderly, and the National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter), which established a state central voter registry and allows persons to register to vote at numerous public agencies throughout the state.

Elections Division
One Ashburton Place, Room 1705
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-727-2828
Toll Free: 1-800-462-VOTE (8683 within Mass. only)
Fax: 617-742-3238
Hours: M-F, 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
E-mail: elections@sec.state.ma.us

Massachusetts Historical Commission
The Massachusetts Historical Commission is the agency responsible for administering historic preservation funds and programs. Established to encourage the identification and protection of our cultural heritage, the MHC works closely with local historical commissions in developing their preservation plans. Through the MHC, local commissions can propose properties for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. MHC is also the office of the State Archaeologist.

Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC)
Secretary of the Commonwealth
220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3314
Tel: 617-727-8470
Fax: 617-727-5128
E-mail: mhc@sec.state.ma.us

Public Records, Commissions and Lobbyists
The Public Records Division keeps custody of the state seal, oversees the administration of the state Public Records Law, and acts on the appeals of individuals who have been denied access to the public records of state and local government. Legislative agents (lobbyists) register and file their semi-annual financial disclosure reports with this office. In addition, the Public Records Division serves as a repository for numerous public records. Candidates seeking federal office file records of their campaign contributions and expenditures. Other records on file include listings and descriptions of the personal data systems held by state agencies, and copies of pardons and criminal renditions from other states (although these are exempt from the Public Records Law).

Public Records Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-727-2832
Fax: 617-727-5914
E-mail: pre@sec.state.ma.us 

Lobbyist Section
Tel: 617-727-9122
E-mail: lob@sec.state.ma.us

The Commissions Section swears in appointed state officials, notaries, and justices of the peace. (Applications to become a notary public and/or justice of the peace are obtained by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Governor's Council, Room 184, State House, Boston, MA 02133. The Commissions Section also certifies the signatures of public officials, affixes Apostilles to documents going out of country, authorizes clergy to perform marriages in the Commonwealth, maintains a list of the local option statutes accepted by each municipality, and records the names of all public officials and appointed members of local, state, and regional public boards and authorities.

Commissions Section
Public Records Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-727-2836
Fax: 617-727-5914
E-mail: comm@sec.state.ma.us

Registries of Deeds
Ownership of property is recorded at the Registry of Deeds in the county where the property is located. Chapter 48 of the Acts of 1997 initiated the process of abolishment of some county government offices and the registry of deeds in those counties has been administratively placed under the supervision of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. All other Registries are independent, though contact information for all the Registries is available by visiting the website below.

Registry of Deeds Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1710
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-878-3152
E-mail: registry@sec.state.ma.us

Securities Division
The Securities Division is responsible for regulating activities of persons and companies in the securities business in accordance with the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act. Stockbrokers and brokerage firms must be registered with the Securities Division in order to engage in business in Massachusetts. Additionally, stock offerings and other types of investments may have to comply with certain filing and disclosure requirements before being sold in this state. The division investigates citizen's complaints about the fraudulent sale of securities by stockbrokers and issuers. Division staff ensures that there is compliance with state laws and investigates complaints received from the public where it appears that there may be a violation of the law. The division often coordinates its activities with other state and federal regulatory agencies. As of April 1994, the division has the responsibility for licensing financial planners and investment advisors.

Securities Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1701
Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: 617-727-3548
Toll Free: 1-800-269-5428 (within Mass. only)
Fax: 617-248-0177
E-mail: securities@sec.state.ma.us

State House Tours Division
Established by an act of the legislature in 1969, the State House Tours Division guides approximately 90,000 visitors annually through the halls of the state's capitol building. It provides an Architectural/Historical Tour and a Legislative Process Tour, as well as a number of brochures explaining the history of the State House and the passage of legislation. The division, in addition to providing State House information in eight different languages, operates a desk which assists with questions on state government, locating personnel and various tourist inquiries. It also has resource notebooks containing a wealth of information for school groups, journalists, historians and travel professionals. The Tours Division manages the operation of the State House Gift Cart, which has souvenirs, books, and other materials relating to the State House.

State House Tours & Government Education Division
State House, Room 194
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-727-3676
Fax: 617-742-4722
Tours: M-F, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
E-mail: mastatehousetours@sec.state.ma.us

State Publications and Regulations Division
The State Bookstore, a component of the State Publications and Regulations Division, is responsible for the sale of our own documents, as well as numerous other state publications, such as the School Directory, List of Mortgage Rates and Massachusetts Election Statistics. It also has copies of recently passed state laws and a collection of souvenirs to accommodate the 100,000 tourists who visit the State House each year. Continually expanding its retail scope, the State Bookstore averages more than $1 million in annual sales.

State Bookstore
State House, Room 116
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-727-2834
Fax: 617-973-4858
Hours: M-F, 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
E-mail: bookstore@sec.state.ma.us

The Regulatory Procedures Section, which along with the State Bookstore makes up the State Publications and Regulations Division, is responsible for publishing the Massachusetts Register which includes all new regulations and amendments promulgated by state agencies, public hearing notices, Executive Orders, and Opinions of the Attorney General, as well as publication of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations. The division also publishes the Central Register which provides information on state, local, and regional projects related to the construction, alteration, repair, maintenance, acquisition, and disposition of capital facilities; and the Goods and Services Bulletin which lists state contract opportunities over $1,000 for goods and non-professional services, those over $40,000 for professional services, those for social and rehabilitative services of human service agencies, and municipal goods and services if estimated to be over $100,000. The division will provide certified copies of original documents. During each legislative session it publishes the acts and resolves. Notices of public meetings are posted here as well.

Regulatory Procedures Section
State Publications and Regulations Division
Secretary of the Commonwealth
State House, Room 117
Boston, MA 02133-1019
Tel: 617-727-2831
Central Register: 617-727-9136
Fax: 617-742-4822
E-mail: regs@sec.state.ma.us

Regional Offices
The Regional Offices provide many of the services which exist at the principal locations of the Secretary of the Commonwealth offices in Boston, MA. Residents of western and southeastern Massachusetts are able to purchase certain corporate certificates and certified copies of available corporate filings, take their oaths of office, file nomination papers, and obtain a variety of state publications. Both offices also provide Apostilles and State Certifications on documents that are leaving the country. The Southeastern District office also assists with naturalization swearing-in ceremonies in Bristol County.

Southeastern Office
218 South Main Street, Suite 206
Fall River, MA 02721
Tel: 508-646-1374
Fax: 508-646-1473
Hours: M-F, 8:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
E-mail: barry.sullivan@sec.state.ma.us

Western Office
436 Dwight Street, Room 102
Springfield, MA 01103
Tel: 413-784-1376
Fax: 413-784-1379
Hours: M-F, 8:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
E-mail: cathy.molta@sec.state.ma.us

Oldest, Newest, Largest and Smallest Communities

Geographic center of Massachusetts is the Town of Rutland in Worcester County.
Oldest town: Plymouth incorporated 1620
Oldest city: Boston incorporated 1822
Newest town: East Brookfield incorporated 1920
Newest city: GARDNER incorporated 1923
Smallest by population: Town of Gosnold, 75 / City of North Adams, 13,708
Smallest by square miles: Town of Nahant, 1.04 / City of Chelsea, 1.86
Largest by population: Town of Framingham, 68,318 / City of Boston, 617,594
Largest by square miles: Town of Plymouth, 97.57 / City of Taunton, 47.29
There are fourteen communities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government, though they wish to be known as "The Town of". They are: AGAWAM, BARNSTABLE, BRAINTREE, BRIDGEWATER, FRANKLIN, GREENFIELD, METHUEN, PALMER, RANDOLPH, SOUTHBRIDGE, WATERTOWN, WEST SPRINGFIELD, WEYMOUTH and WINTHROP.  There are two communities that have been granted the title of city though they do not have wards or precincts, they are:  AMESBURY and EASTHAMPTON.

Anomalies of note

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467
There are many neighborhoods or area names that may cross local borders of one kind or another but, Chestnut Hill goes a little further than most. It is comprised of parts of the City of Boston, the City of Newton, and the Town of Brookline, as well as being comprise of the counties Suffolk, Middlesex, and Norfolk.

Nantucket Island
To our knowledge, Nantucket Island is the only place in America where one town is also its own island and county.

General Information

Official Name

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

State Capital



6,547,629 (2010 U.S. Census Bureau)

Population Rank

14th of 50 states (2010 U.S. Census Bureau)


8,257 square miles (land and water)

Population Density

839.4 persons per square mile (land area) (U.S. Census Bureau)


312 towns; 39 cities

State Government

Six constitutional officers elected for four years: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Attorney General, Treasurer and Receiver General, Auditor


Official Name: General Court. Two branches with members elected for two years; House of Representatives: 160 members; Senate: 40 members