Bay State Basics

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A Student Guide to Living in Massachusetts

Dear Student:

Thank you for choosing Massachusetts as the place to continue your education. With over 150 public and private institutions of higher learning and a combined student population of a half million, our Commonwealth is recognized worldwide for its academic heritage and reputation. Indeed, the intellectual and cultural energy generated by students adds immeasurably to the character, economy, and quality of life in the Bay State.

Your college experience will not be limited to spending time in lecture halls, libraries, or on the internet. Massachusetts is an outstanding place to work, to play, to travel throughout, and to live. It"s even a great place to own a business. As a result, you will need essential information about transportation, landlord/tenant regulations, voter registration, and numerous other practical matters that affect your daily lives.

This webpage, “Bay State Basics - A Student Guide To Living in Massachusetts”, has been prepared by my office to provide you with much of the useful information you will need as Massachusetts collegians. Use the contact information within this page to contact any of the specific divisions of my office.

College life in Massachusetts will be an exciting and rewarding experience for you. Enjoy it, and keep “A Student Guide To Living in Massachusetts” as one of your guides to practical knowledge about our Commonwealth.


William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth

Citizen Information Service

For more than 30 years, Citizen Information Service (CIS) has made state government more accessible to residents of the Commonwealth. It has responded to nearly two million telephone inquiries, and has been able to provide immediate answers to approximately ninety-nine percent of those calls.

CIS functions as the primary information and referral agency for the state and also serves as a liaison to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and is the primary information and referral service when the governor declares a state of emergency in the Commonwealth.

In addition, CIS produces and distributes a series of publications on a diverse range of topics, with such titles as "The Citizens' Guide to State Services", "Welcome to Massachusetts: A Practical Guide to Living in the State", and many more.

Citizen Information Service
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.

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 (within Mass. only)
Fax: 617-742-3238
Hours: M-F, 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

State Bookstore

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.

State House Tours & Government Education 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. In addition, 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
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.

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.

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.

Regional Offices

The Regional Offices provide many of the services which exist at the principal location of the Secretary of the Commonwealth in Boston, MA. Residents of western and southeastern Massachusetts are able to receive and file corporate documents, take their oaths of office, file nomination papers, and obtain a variety of state publications.

In addition, staff members participate in a number of outreach programs, such as voter registration drives, corporations seminars, and securities fraud forums.

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.

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.

Other Divisions

The other divisions of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Office are Corporations, Securities, Registry of Deeds, Public Records, Massachusetts Archives, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Commonwealth Museum, State Records Center and Address Confidentiality.

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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.

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Voter Registration

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 entitled “Registering and Voting in Massachusetts”.)

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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 Divisionreceives 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 or online. The division will accept individual written complaints and take legal action if a widespread pattern of fraud is found. For more information, contact:

Consumer Protection Bureau
Mailing Address: Office of the Attorney General
One Ashburton Place, 19th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-727-8400 or
Springfield Area Office: 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), and many more. The office will be pleased to send you a publication in your area of concern. For more information, contact:

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)

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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.

For information and referrals about housing matters, contact your local tenants groups or Citizen Information Service. The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation publishes and has available upon request and online: Tenant Rights and Responsibilities.

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)

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Wage Requirements

The state minimum wage is $8.00 an hour. However, there are certain exceptions for students who are in working situations where sub-minimum wages are applicable.

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 a month in tips. For more information about state wage requirements, contact:

Division of Fair Labor and Business Practices
Labor and Business Protection Bureau
Office of the Attorney General
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA
Mailing Adrress: One Ashburton Place, 20th floor
Boston, MA 02180-1698
Tel: 617-727-3465


If you are a student who lives and works in Massachusetts while attending school, you must file a Massachusetts income tax return if your income exceeds $8000. If your anticipated income is less than $8000, 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. 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.

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

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Student Opportunities

Volunteer Solutions n 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. Corps members receive a weekly stipend, health insurance, a Samsung cell phone with service provided by T-Mobile USA, a uniform provided by Timberland and ARAMARK, and upon graduation are eligible for up to $5,550 in post-service awards for higher education. In addition, 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 Division of Career Sevicesmaintains 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

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Tax Structure

Personal Income Tax

A 5.3 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 of income subject to Massachusetts taxation which is not subject to Massachusetts withholding.

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, 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.

Gasoline Tax

“Tax per gallon”, shall be 24 cents per gallon for automobiles and trucks. For aviation fuel, “tax per gallon” shall mean 7.5 per cent of the average price, as determined by the commissioner, for each calendar quarter, computed to the nearest tenth of a cent per gallon; provided, however, that such tax shall not be less than 10 cents per gallon. Contact the Department of Revenue at (617) 887-5070 or visit for further information.

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 $2.51 per pack of 20 cigarettes, and $3.1375 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.

Alcoholic Beverages Tax

There is a 6.25 percent tax on alcoholic beverages.

Automobile Excise Tax

An annual tax is levied by the state but collected at the local level. The rate is $25 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 “Massachusetts Automobile Excise” or visit this online link:

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Financial Aid

The Board of Higher Educationawards state scholarships to needy Massachusetts residents who are undergraduates attending post-secondary schools in the Commonwealth, regionally accredited schools in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or Vermont, or who are medical or dental students attending professionally approved graduate schools of medicine or dentistry. The board also awards honor scholarships, four to each senatorial district, based on SAT scores, to students attending a four-year college or university supported by the Commonwealth. Other special scholarships are available to children of police officers, firefighters, and corrections officers who died in the line of duty, and to war orphans of Massachusetts veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean or Vietnam conflicts whose death was service-connected. HELP (Higher Education Loan Plan) loans are available from participating lenders throughout the state to eligible permanent residents of Massachusetts attending accredited schools. For more information, contact:

Board of Higher Education
One Ashburnton Place, Room 1401
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, MA 02151-1696
Tel: 617-994-6950
Fax: 617-727-6397

The American Student Assistance Corporation (ASA), formerly known as the Massachusetts Higher Education Assistance Corporation (MHEAC), was established in 1956 by a special act of the legislature to assist students to finance post-secondary education. MHEAC created the Higher Education Loan Plan (HELP) by which commercial credit sources were made available for student loans whose payment was guaranteed by MHEAC. Under the Higher Education Act, the federal government subsidizes the interest rate for qualified student borrowers and provides full reinsurance of ASA's guarantees to lenders. These loans, now called Stafford Loans, are available from participating lenders who have a contractual agreement with ASA. The unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program is now available to students in good academic standing regardless of income. ASA also administers the PLUS Loan Program for parents and Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS) program for independent undergraduates and graduate students.

American Student Assistance Corporation
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1600
330 Stuart Street
Boston, MA 02114
Tel: 617-426-9434
Toll Free: 1-800-999-9080
TTY: 1-800-990-0923

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)
160 Federal Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
Tel: 617-261-9760
General Info: 1-800-449-MEFA (6332)
Fax: 617-261-9765

TERI College Planning Center is a clearinghouse of information on financial aid, post-secondary education, training, and careers. It provides information and advice on a walk-in basis, by appointment, or by telephone to youth and adults. Assistance is also offered to guidance counselors, teachers, and others who are helping people plan for higher education. The College Planning Center is a division of The Education Resources Institute with major funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education, 24 Boston area colleges, the Massachusetts Higher Education Coordinating Council, and the American Student Assistance Corporation. The responsibilities of the Career and Learning Line (CALL) have been integrated into the functions for the center. The center is open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Education Resources Institute (TERI)
31 Saint James Avenue, Suite 950
Boston, MA 02116
Toll Free: 1-800-255 TERI (8374)

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Motor Vehicles


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 at

Registration costs $50 for two years and $50 to renew thereafter. Note: Costs are subject to change. Other costs can be found at


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 $29.

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 a 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 a 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.

Seat Belts

All passengers in vehicles must wear seat belts. Violators must pay a $25 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

Standards as established in: 49 CFR 571.213 For more information, contact:

Injury Prevention and Control Program
Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108-4619
Toll-free: 1-800-227-7233 (CAR-SAFE)

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 $100. It is valid for 5 years. After this, the renewal fee is $50. For more information, contact:

Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
Massachusetts Department of Transportation, RMV Division
25 Newport Avenue
Quincy, MA
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 55889
Quincy, MA 02205-5889
Tel: 617-351-4500 (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)
Ombudsman Office: 617-973-7777
Registrar's Office 617-973-7000
Toll Free: 1-800-472-9829 (I-PAY-TAX Anonymous tipline for reporting vehicle registration and excise tax evasion in MA)
Toll Free Automated Assistance and Fax on
Demand Forms Line: 1-866-627-7768

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Identification Cards

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 and the ID expires every 5 years. If the I.D. is lost, a replacement also costs $25. An amended I.D. card also costs $25.

Liquor Purchase Identification

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 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. 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.

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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, or both (M.G.L Ch.94C :34. Posession of one ouce or less of marijuana shall be a civil offense with a $100 fine and forfeitue 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.

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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.

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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

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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 gun records, contact:

Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
Criminal History Systems Board
200 Arlington Street, Suite 220
Chelsea, MA 02150
Tel: 617-660-4780

To check for any criminal records, contact:

Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
Executive Office of Public Safety
200 Arlington Street, Suite 2000
Chelsea, MA 02150
Tel: 617-660-4600
Fax: 617-660-4613

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Communicable and Venereal Diseases/AIDS/STD's

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
Toll Free: 1-866-749-7122
Tel: 617-983-6962

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

For information and referral, contact:

Statewide AIDS Hotline: 1-800-235-2331
U.S. Public Health Service Hotline: 1-800-342-AIDS (2437)

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
250 Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-624-5300
Toll Free: 1-800-443-2437
TTY: 617-437-1672

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.

Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02108-4609
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

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: 617-247-0220
Toll Free: 1-800-252-TEEN (8336)
Toll Free: 1-877-870-HOPE (4673)
To volunteer: 617-536-2460 or 508-872-1780

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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 or
Toll Free: 1-800-322-2020 (V/TDD)

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
Fort Point Place< Suite 660
27 Wormwood Street
Boston, MA 02210
Tel: 617-204-3600
Toll Free: 1-800-245-6543 (V/TDD)

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Public Transportation (MBTA)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)operates bus, trolley, and rapid transit in Boston and 78 other cities and towns. The MBTA also has a pass program open to the general public which provides passes for the lines regularly traveled by the commuter. You may obtain a pass the last five working days of each month at MBTA stations, participating banks or at four Boston Post Office branches. For more information, contact:

General Information: 617-222-5000
Route Maps and Schedules: 617-222-3200 or 1-800-392-6100
Semester Pass Program: 617-222-6117
Lost and Found: (for referral to exact line) 617-222-5000
Complaints/Commendations: 617-222-5215


Massachusetts has 31,300 miles of highways including the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90) which stretches the length of the state connecting Massachusetts with upper New York state and roads that lead to Connecticut. Interstate 95, which circles Boston, runs the width of the state from Rhode Island to New Hampshire. Interstate 93 connects Massachusetts with New Hampshire, and Interstate 91 connects western Massachusetts with Vermont and Connecticut.

Massachusetts Highway and Turnpike maps are available from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism which is listed on the next page.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)
Highway Division
10 Park Plaza, Room 4160
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 617-973-7800
TTY: 617-973-7306
Traffic Information via cell phone: 511
Traffic Information via landline Metro Boston: 617-986-5511
Traffic Information via landline Central Mass: 508-499-5511
Traffic Information via landline Western Mass: 413-754-5511
Fax: (617)973-8031

For a map of the Massachusetts Turnpike, contact:

Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: 508-248-4581


Logan International Airport is the largest passenger and air cargo terminal in New England. It is located within the boundaries of Boston. For more information, contact:

Logan International Airport
Massachusetts Port Authority
One Harborside Drive, Suite 2005
Boston, MA 02128-2905
Tel: 617-561-1800
TTY: 1-800-262-3335
Toll Free: 1-800-23-LOGAN or the individual airline.

For a listing of all airlines and terminals, contact:

For a listing of the 37 local airports, contact:

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

Trains / Commuter Lines

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company, contracted with the MBTA, operates two commuter rail lines offering service between Boston and major areas in the eastern part of the state.

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

Tel: 617-222-3200

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

Tel: 617-222-3200

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)


Massachusetts is serviced by bus companies which operate in large communities out of Greyhound/Trailways Bus Terminals and by local companies in smaller communities. Check your telephone book for your local office or terminal.

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Recreational Information


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


The Division of Urban Parks and Recreation maintains beaches, pools, skating rinks, golf courses, fishing areas, boating facilities, bicycle paths, tennis courts, zoos, athletic fields, and historic monuments in the metropolitan Boston area. For maps and pamphlets, contact:

Division of Urban Parks and Recreation
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
251 Causeway Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114-2104
Tel: 617-626-1250
Fax: 617-626-1351

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
Fax: 617-262-8633


Boston Bruins
TD Banknorth Garden
Tel: 617-624-1900

Boston Celtics
TD Banknorth Garden
Toll Free: 1-866-4 CELTIX

Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park
Toll Free: 1-877-REDSOX-9

New England Patriots & New England Revolution
Gillette Stadium
Toll Free: 1-800-543-1776

Boston Athletic Association
Tel: 617-236-1652

TD Banknorth Garden
Tel: 617-624-1000

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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 holiday laws, contact:

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: 8:45 am - 5:00 pm, M-F

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 first

Jan. 1, Sun. (3)

Jan. 1, Tues.

Jan. 1, Wed.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday - Third Monday in January

Jan. 16, Mon.

Jan. 21, Mon.

Jan. 20, Mon.

Washington’s Birthday - Third Monday in February

Feb. 20, Mon.

Feb. 18, Mon.

Feb. 17, Mon.

Evacuation Day - March 17th (Suffolk County only)

Mar. 17, Sat.

Mar. 17, Sun. (3)

Mar. 17, Mon.

Patriot’s Day - Third Monday in April

Apr. 16, Mon.

Apr. 15, Mon.

Apr. 21, Mon.

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

May 28, Mon. (1)

May 27, Mon.(1)

May 26, Mon. (1)

Bunker Hill Day - June 17th (Suffolk County only)

June 17, Sun. (3)

June 17, Mon.

June 17, Tues.

Independence Day - July 4th**

July 4, Wed.

July 4, Thurs. (3)

July 4, Fri.

Labor Day** - First Monday in September

Sept. 3, Mon.

Sept. 2, Mon.

Sept. 1, Mon.

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

Oct. 8, Mon.

Oct. 14, Mon.

Oct. 13, Mon. (2)

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

Nov. 11, Sun. (2)(3)

Nov. 11, Mon. (2)

Nov. 11, Tues. (2)

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

Nov. 22, Thurs. (1)

Nov. 28, Thurs. (1)

Nov. 27, Thurs. (1)

Christmas Day*(1) - December 25th

Dec. 25, Tues. (1)

Dec. 25, Wed. (1)

Dec. 25, Thurs. (1)

* - 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 to employees on holidays are enforced by the following office.

Fair Labor and Business Practices Division
Business and labor Protection Bureau
Office of the Attorney General
100 Cambridge Street Boston
Mailing Address: One Ashburnton Place, Boston, MA 02108-1698
Tel: 617-727-3465
TTY: 617-727-4765
Fax: 617-722-3066

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