Experiences involving alcohol in Boston
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
I plan to include alcohol during my experience, is there anything I should be thinking about?we encourage you to please keep your safety, and that of your guests, front of mind.
Safe experiences do not involve providing alcohol to a guest:
- Who is under 21
- Who will be driving or operating any type of vehicle
- Who looks or acts inebriated
- Who has informed you that they are ill, have a drinking problem, or do not want to participate
- Until after any portion of an experience involving physical activity (like yoga, swimming, hiking, biking) or activities that involve operating machinery is complete
In addition, if you are hosting an experience with alcohol in a public venue or outdoor space, make sure it is permissible to consume alcohol in that venue and consider whether a permit is required.
Do I need a license if I serve alcohol to my guests at my home, at a private venue, or outdoors?
To sell alcohol to your guests, you need a license under the Massachusetts Liquor Control Act or you need to hire a licensed caterer. Note that, for a variety of reasons, licenses are not generally available to sell alcohol at a private residence. Selling alcohol includes situations where:
- You sell alcohol to your guest directly (e.g. charging a guest for a glass of wine)
- You sell alcohol to your guest indirectly (e.g. charging for wine in your experience price)
What about serving complimentary alcohol?
The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and City of Boston Licensing Board do not prohibit alcohol to be served at private, invitation-only events in private residences where there is no direct or indirect charge for that alcohol.
However, keep in mind that any direct or indirect charge for alcohol without a license or permit may be a violation of Massachusetts law. For example, an obvious indirect charge for alcohol—charging one price for a meal without alcohol while charging a higher price for a meal with alcohol—could be considered a prohibited sale. A charge for an experience that includes access to alcohol also could be considered a prohibited sale.
Generally speaking, this is a tricky area and we encourage you to check with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and speak to a lawyer to make sure you are correctly interpreting these provisions and are following your local laws.
What if my experience takes place at a business with a liquor license, like a bar or restaurant?
You would be unlikely to run afoul of regulations if you take your guests to your favorite local bars or restaurants that are licensed under the Liquor Control Act.
What if my experience is BYO and I want to allow guests to bring their own alcohol?
Hosting a BYO experience where guests bring and consume their own alcohol may not require a license under the Liquor Control Act. However, you should be aware that Massachusetts and Boston authorities regulate BYO activities in businesses. The City of Boston generally requires that businesses serving food have a BYOB permit to allow customers to bring their own alcohol.
We encourage you to check with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and City of Boston Licensing Board and speak to a lawyer to make sure you are correctly interpreting and following your local laws.
I brew my own beer or cider. What do I need to keep in mind?
The Liquor Control Act does not apply to the manufacture or storage of alcoholic beverages by a person for his own private use. Therefore, you likely do not need a liquor license to teach guests how to brew their own beer. However, you may not sell guests any of your home-brewed beer.
We encourage you to check with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and speak to a lawyer to make sure you are correctly interpreting and following your local laws.
* Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).