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City of Melrose

How Do I...


Birth Certificates

Birth certificates for persons whose parents lived in Melrose at the time of their birth or whose birth occurred in Melrose may be obtained in the City Clerk’s Office.

Please note – a photo ID is also required from the requester in the following circumstance:
If the parents were not married at the time of birth, then only the child, the mother, and the father (if listed on the certificate) may request the certificate. A photo ID must be presented or a photocopy of a photo ID may be mailed.

To obtain a copy in person:

Cash, check or money orders payable to the City of Melrose
Fee is $18.00 per certified copy

To obtain a copy by mail:

click here to download a request form

include a stamped self-addressed envelope

check or money orders payable to the City of Melrose
Fee is $23.00 per certified copy

Mail to:
City Clerk’s Office
562 Main St.
Melrose, MA 02176

Block Party Permits

Petition for permission for a block party is available in Public Works located at the Tremont Street Operations Center and by clicking here.

Signatures must be obtained from most, if not all, of the neighbors who will be affected by the disruption.

The following information is needed for the Police, Fire and Public Works Departments:

• Date of Block Party
• Starting Time - Ending Time
• The area to be blocked off
• Contact person with telephone number

Building Permits

Permit Types

The Department of Inspections Services issues the following Permit types:

Certificate of Occupancy
Driveways (zoning compliance only)

Fire Alarms
Fire Suppression Sprinklers
Mechanical Systems (HVAC)
New Construction

Parking Lots (zoning)Pools
Solid-Pellet Fuel Burning Appliances

Building Permit Applications

Permit application forms are available in the office. The city uses standard state issued and approved application forms with slight modifications to comply with local ordinances.

A complete building permit application will include specific information that differs between residential single/ two family uses and other uses. The following shall be submitted for each application unless waived by the Director:

Owners name, address and signatures

Contractors identification, including Home Improvement and Construction Supervisors License

A current valid plot plan highlighting the proposed work

Manufacturers specifications of special equipment

Architects affidavits, if the structure is larger than 35,000 cubic feet in volume

Foundation permits shall include: heights of walls, dimension of walls and footings and strength of concrete

Fire rating of structural and egress materials

Design plans detailing: interior room dimensions, identification of rooms and spaces, stairs, door sizes, windows, framing-siding materials and elevations of structure.

MasCheck energy code compliance report of additions and new structures.

Accurate cost of construction, including all sub-trades including materials and labor

Conservation and Historical approval

Decks applications shall include: lumber dimensions, column and footing sizes and type of concrete

Pools applications shall include: fencing and security alarm details, location of the pool on a plot plan

Owners of single and two family homes may apply for a building permit to perform the work themselves. Any owner that applies for and is granted a permit and then hires a contractor to perform the permitted work may not be protected by the Home Improvement Guarantee Fund. Owners of other than one and two families may apply for a permit but a licensed supervisor or architect must sign the permit and be on the job site to assume responsibility of code compliance and construction if and when hired.

Other Permits Issued by Inspectional Services

In addition to the building permit the department also issues permits for new electrical installations or repairs, fire alarm permits, security systems, telephone and cable connections as well as plumbing and gas permits, fire suppression, irrigation back flow preventors, and underground propane piping.

Work Requiring a Permit

The City of Melrose is duty-bound by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, General Law Chapter 143; section 94, and CMR 780 to enforce and use The State Building Code as the only document that regulates construction.

The State Building Code requires permits for:

New building construction


Repair, renovate or install new material

Changes in use

Demolition of structures

Certificates of Occupancy

Fire suppression

Alter or install a means of egress

New electrical installations or repairs

Plumbing installations or repairs

Gas repairs or installations

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning installations

The application also requires a permit fee that reflects the actual total cost of construction. The City of Melrose bases the cost of the fee by setting a rate of ten dollars per one thousand dollars of total construction, plus a five-dollar administration fee. The total cost of construction includes Electrical, Plumbing, Gas, HVAC, and Fire Protection.

Notwithstanding the inclusion of the related trades into the cost of construction, a separate permit is required for each of the sub-trades which, in accordance with law, must be applied for and granted to only licensed professionals.

Exceptions to permits are: ordinary repairs or the following, carpeting, sandblasting, floor sanding, painting, wall papering, pools under 2 feet in height, swing sets, etc.

Melrose Zoning mandates that sheds, fences, driveways and retaining walls which are not regulated by code are required to be permitted.

Depending on the location of the property in relation to the Melrose Historical District and the proximity to wetlands the application process may include a review and decision by the Melrose Historical Commission or Melrose Conservation Commission.

Why do I need a permit?

The process of application and granting a building permit is necessary to ensure that all new work, which includes repairs to existing structures and new construction, are designed and built to a minimum safe standard that protects the occupants, abutters, and emergency response personnel.

Building Codes have existed since the earliest recordings of history. The intent of a code is to insure public safety standards, health and welfare which are affected by building construction, structural integrity, adequate means of egress, sanitary facilities, light ventilation and heat, and protection from fire hazards.

Sometimes the Code Official is perceived as adversarial even though we may be protecting the people and property from harming themselves. How often have we heard of a fire that took a life and destroyed a building because the owner removed a smoke detector battery while cooking and forgot to replace it? How many times have we learned of a loss of life when a fire destroyed the only escape route from an apartment? Perhaps you will recall the stories of the deck collapse with ten or more people injured from the fall.

It is very clear that all landowners have protected property rights. However, an owner very often is confused or aggravated with what they perceive as an infringement of those rights by the Building official. Understanding the principles of "Police Powers" the City, regulated by the federal and state government, has a defined responsibility to protect the quality of life of each resident and occupant.

Once an ordinance or code is adopted the City has an obligation to require each person to abide by the regulation. Code enforcement also means that reviewing the existing regulations for out of date wording, indifferences to case law and changes by the State legislature which apply to regulations.

As an example, during the past two years, the State Legislators adopted rules to require specific procedures applied to abandoned property when a threat of conflagration is possible. While reviewing recent litigation and court decisions the Building official is obligated to enforce those decisions to avoid unwarranted civil action of malice.

Permits for electrical repairs or new installations are necessary to insure against fire hazard, conformity of voltage to operate devices and appliances and for protection from serious or deadly injuries.

Plumbing permits are required to insure against hazards to personal health and the environment, while gas permits and inspections ensure protection from explosions and fire.

What is the cost of a Permit?

Building, Wiring, Plumbing, Gas, and Weights & Measures Permit Fees are set by Melrose Ordinances, effective May 9, 2013. 

Who files for a permit?

Several representatives may submit a building permit application: 1) the owner may apply for a Building Permit for any size structure. 2) For structures larger than a 2 family the owner may apply. However, if the owner hires a contractor to perform the work then a licensed construction supervisor shall also be required to sign the permit application and be responsible for the construction. 3) For structures greater than 35,000 cubic feet an architect or engineer must sign and stamp all drawings and submit an affidavit guaranteeing compliance of design and assuring that they will perform periodic inspections of the work. 4) A licensed contractor may apply for a permit for building construction with the owner’s approval and consent and with the attached affidavit and approved stamped drawings.

Fences, pools, roofing, wall signs, siding and window replacement are all regulated by code but depending on the use and size an unlicensed contractor is allowed to perform the work with a permit.

The owner’s signature is always required on a permit application. The signature provides evidence that the owner has reviewed the document, signed a contract in accordance with the Home Improvement Contractors regulations and validates the application.

Electrical permits may only be issued to a licensed electrical contractor. Journeyman electricians may apply for a permit however a journeyman may not employ and allow others to install fixtures or wiring. Homeowners may not apply for an electrical permit. Because a permit cannot be issued to an unlicensed homeowner, the inspector in accordance with code is unable to perform inspections on unlicensed work.

A licensed plumber must perform all Plumbing and Gas work. Journeyman may apply for and be issued a permit. Homeowners may not perform any plumbing or gas installations.

Arranging for an Inspection

On the back of each building permit card are items that are inspected for code compliance. On the face of the card are the usual inspections of each inspector.

Generally the Building Inspector will perform as many as eight periodic inspections for things such as excavation, footings, foundations, frame, wall siding, chimney-fireplace, insulation, and final for occupancy.

To arrange for an inspection for the Building Commissioner a call must be placed to the office the day the inspection is desired. Inspections are scheduled between 10 AM and 12 PM Monday through Thursday by calling 781-979-4135. The Commissioner and the contractor will meet at the site beginning shortly after 10 AM. Late calls are asked to call the following day between those same hours.

The Electrical Inspector’s office hours are 8 AM and 10 AM Monday through Friday. Inspections take place between 10 AM and 12 PM. For inspections you may call 781-979-4134. The Inspector will arrange the best available time to meet your electrical contractor.

The Plumbing and Gas Inspector office call hours are 12 PM to 2 PM, Monday through Thursday; inspections are made from 2 PM to 4 PM. To arrange an inspection please contact the inspector at 781-979-4136.

The Sealer of Weights and Measures is available Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 10 AM.

In most situations both wire and plumbing inspectors perform three inspections on each project. Generally, they inspect underground - services, rough and finish work for compliance of their particular codes.

When plot plans are required

A plot plan is always required especially when an addition or new construction affects the exterior lines of an existing structure and on all new construction. Plot plans are also require for demolition, sheds, parking lots, pools, driveways, filling of lots, retaining walls and fences.

The State Building Code requires a design plan for modifications of structures or new construction of buildings or homes greater than 35, 000 cubic feet in volume. The code also requires plans to be submitted when any changes to a structure affect a means of egress or fire hazard index.

In addition when new construction involves the creation of a bedroom in an existing single and two family structure then plans are to be submitted for assurance and placement of smoke detectors throughout the dwelling.

For installations of fire suppression sprinkler systems and cooking hood fire suppression, a registered fire protection engineer shall submit the design and plans for approval.

Generally when an architect has designed an addition, new construction or remodeled a structure or when a contractor has been retained based on a specified set of plans then those plans shall be filed with the application.

Where do I get a plot plan?

Plot plans are necessary to ensure compliance of zoning, environmental protection and fire protection.

In accordance with the State Building Code plot plans are required for all new construction. In addition a plot plan is required for any construction or demolition that affects the open space or land area of a parcel.

Applications for new construction shall include a current, scaled plot plan drafted by a registered land surveyor. Those plans shall identify the owners, parcel and lot area, existing distances to lot lines, proposed distances to lot lines and proposed foundations and floors elevations.

In most instances the homeowner receives a less than acceptable version of a plot plan when they purchase the home. Usually specific language on those documents prohibits their use to establish lot boundaries. They may be used for general conversation and informational purposes.

To obtain a certified plot plan, call a Registered Land Surveyor. You can also contact the Inspection Services Department to get a list of Surveyors in the area.

All plot plans will carry the registration number, date of the survey, and seal of the Land Surveyor.

Permits for Homeowners Performing Work

In Massachusetts a homeowner is entitled to apply for and receive a building permit to construct or alter a single or two family structure. When granted a permit the homeowner may perform the new work on a single or two family. It is important to note that homeowners which apply for a permit then hire contractors to perform the work are not entitled to protection under the Home Improvement Contractors Guaranteed Fund.

Permits for structures other than single or two family dwellings must be issued to a licensed professional. This is not to say that an owner is prohibited from submitting an application or applying for building permit. This means that an application for structures other than single and two- families must be submitted either by the owner, architect, engineer, or licensed construction supervisor. When the owner applies they must submit proof that a licensed supervisor will perform the work and be present at the site during all construction phases. If the owner hires a contractor, that contractor must be licensed.

The limitations for a homeowner are that they may only construction one single or two-family home in a two-year period. If the desire to build more than one home within the time frame then a licensed professional must be the applicant and be responsible for construction.

To protect the homeowners the legislators passed a law known as the Home Improvement Contractors Guaranteed Fund. This law protects homeowners that sign contracts and hire home improvement contractors that fail to abide by the agreement.

A HIC license is required on all jobs, which are valued at more than one thousand dollars.

Homeowners that apply for permits and then hire contractors to perform the work are not protected or guaranteed access to the fund. The HIC contractor is obligated to apply for the permit and to perform the work outlined in the contract.

Electrical and Plumbing - Gas permits must be granted to licensed professionals.

Regulation of Construction by Inspectional Services and the Fire Department

Building codes are adopted in part to eliminate the threat of fire and to protect occupants in all new or renovated buildings.

Code officials and I am sure Fire officials, often discuss the internal policies linking fire and building officials. Issues that are most often debated are fire suppression, fire alarms and smoke/heat detectors.

Each community approaches the separation between the building official’s code and fire prevention regulations by a delicate compromise of authorities. In Melrose, for the past ten years, a dedicated, and resilient working relationship between the Fire Chief and Building Commissioner has strengthen the communities commitment to life safety.

On occasion different opinions are negotiated to a practical end by assenting to codes and referring to opinions based on case law as a sound and equitable mediation. All decisions are made based on the primary concern of safety to the community and each emergency response person’s import at the top of every issue.

During the application process three sets of plans are submitted to the building department. First, a set is to be marked and returned to the applicant with approvals and comments, second a set is sent to the fire department for their review, and third a complete set with approvals and signatures is kept on file.

A plan review will include items such as, hazardous use index, fire rating of walls and fabrics, fire suppression, sprinkler head type and location, fire alarm notification and smoke and heat detector placements.

All of these building elements are regulated by the State Building Code which is the "Authority Having Jurisdiction". When installing these fixtures the code is specific with regards to design, performance and location. However, as an example, when designing and installing sprinkler systems the Head of the Fire Department would approve the type and systems capacity.

Business Certificate

How do I obtain a Business Certificate?

State law requires that any partnership or sole proprietorship which is using a trade name, file a business certificate (commonly known as "doing business as" or "DBA" certificate) in the community where their office is located. The certificate contains the name and address of the business and the names and residential addresses of all partners in the business.

To file for a business certificate:

You may obtain a business certificate form by calling, writing, or appearing in person at the City Clerk’s Office, or click here to download an application. Signatures of all partners must be notarized before filing will be accepted. If the business is being conducted from a home, the approval of the Inspector of Buildings must be obtained before filing with the City Clerk’s Office.

The business certificate is valid for 4 years from the date of issue and the filing fee is $60.00.

Note: If the business address changes, the applicant should come into the City Clerk’s Office and file a change of address form; the fee is $15.00. If the business is discontinued, the applicant should file a discontinuation form; the fee is $15.00. If the ownership of the business changes, a new business certificate must be filed, with a fee of $60.00.

Certified Copies of Vital Records

Certified copies of vital records may be obtained either in person during regular business hours or by mail.

By mail, your order will be processed within two days of receipt.

Death Certificates

Death certificates for persons who died in Melrose or who died in Massachusetts and listed Melrose as their place of residence may be obtained in the City Clerk’s Office.

To obtain a copy in person:

Cash, check or money orders payable to the City of Melrose
– Fee is $18.00 per certified copy

To obtain a copy by mail:

click here to download a request form

include a stamped self-addressed envelope

check or money orders payable to the City of Melrose - Fee is $23.00 per certified copy

Mail to:
City Clerk’s Office
562 Main St.
Melrose, MA 02176

Dog License

Dog owners must license any dog 6 months or older. License applications are available by clicking here and in person at the City Clerk’s Office; licenses are valid for the calendar year. A person must be 18 years of age in order to own a dog.

To obtain a dog license:

A license will only be issued if the owner has evidence of a rabies vaccination that is valid as of the date of issuance.

The fee for a dog license: Intact dogs: $23.00
                                     Neutered/Spayed: $20.00

After March 15 a late fee of $15.00 will be imposed

The Melrose Leash Law

Article II., Section 93-6. Leashing requirements.

No person shall own or keep in the city, outside the confines of the owner’s or keeper’s property, any dog that is not held firmly on a leash.

The Melrose ‘Pooper Scooper’ Law

Article II., Section 93-8. Waste disposal.

Disposal of feces. Any person which is the owner or keeper or in control or possession of a dog within the City of Melrose shall dispose of any feces left by his/her dog on any public sidewalk, public street or any other public area or city owned or city-controlled property or on any private property neither owned nor occupied by said person and for which permission has not been granted by a lawfully authorized person for the disposal of such feces on said property.

Method of disposal. Disposal of feces shall be accomplished by transporting and disposing of such feces to and at a place suitable and lawful for the disposal of canine feces or as otherwise designated as appropriate by the Board of Health.

Liquor Licenses

One-day Liquor License

If you are holding an event at an establishment requiring a one-day liquor license, you may obtain this license from the Liquor Commissioner through the Mayor’s Office. Liquor licenses are only given to non-profit companies or corporations, not to individuals. Caterers holding a license in another city or town are eligible to apply for a one-day license in the City of Melrose.

Fee: $50.00

Checks should be made payable to: City of Melrose

License application available here or in the Mayor’s Office.

Please submit application and fee at least two weeks prior to the date of the event.

May I bring my own wine or beer?

No. Only a caterer with a one-day liquor license from the City of Melrose may supply the wine or beer.

Do I need a police detail?

Yes. To ensure the safety of all guests a police detail is required.

Other Liquor Licenses

Restaurant License $2,500
(all alcohol)

Restaurant Licenses $2,000
(wine and malt beverage)

Retail Food Establishment Licenses $1,500

Club license $ 600

Marriage License (Intention of Marriage)

How do I obtain a marriage license?

Hours: Monday - Thursday 9 am - 3 pm
          Friday by appointment only: 9 am - 11:30 am
          Please call 781-979-4115 to schedule appointment

The fee for filing your Notice of Intention of Marriage is $35.00; The City Clerk's office accepts cash, checks or money orders only, payable to the City of Melrose.

There is a 3 day statutory waiting period between the time the intention is filed and when the license may be issued. The intention may be filed no more than 60 days before the marriage is to take place. It will become void if not used within those 60 days.

Both parties to a proposed marriage must appear in the City Clerk’s Office to file a Notice of Intention of Marriage (except for in cases where one person is in the military or incarcerated). Both parties must provide the following information:

• Name, Current Address, Birth Date, Birth City and State
• Social Security Number, Occupation
• Names of each party's parents, their Birth City and State
• Intended date of marriage
• Name and address of church or facility
• Name and home address of officiator
• If a one day solemnizer is officiating, the City Clerk's office
  must receive a copy of the Solemnization Certificate
  ten (10) days before the marriage ceremony.
  It may be faxed to Susan or Ruth (781) 979-4149

What if one or both of us are under 18?

You must go to court and obtain a court order to marry.

What if we have waited too long to apply for our license and our wedding is scheduled less than three days from the date of the license application?

You must go to court and obtain a court order to waive the three-day waiting period.

Do we have to be Melrose residents in order to apply in Melrose?

No, according to Massachusetts State Law there is no residency requirement for either party. You may file your Intentions in any City or Town in the Commonwealth. Where you file your Intention is where your license will be kept on file.

Marriage Certificate

Marriage Certificates for persons who filed their Intention of Marriage in Melrose may be obtained in the City Clerk’s Office.

To obtain a copy in person:

Cash, check or money orders payable to the City of Melrose
– Fee is $18.00 per certified copy

To obtain a copy by mail:

click here to download a request form

include a stamped self-addressed envelope

check or money orders payable to the city of Melrose - Fee is $23.00 per certified copy

Mail to:
City Clerk’s Office
562 Main St.
Melrose, MA 02176

Records of Events and Additional Resources

Records for any event that occurred in Massachusetts may also be obtained at:

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
150 Mt. Vernon Street, 1st Floor
Dorchester, MA 02125-3105
Telephone No. (617) 740-2606

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Certificates

In accordance with Massachusetts General Law, chapter 148 section 26F, the Fire Department issues smoke and carbon monoxide certificates upon the sale or transfer of your home.

Appointments for an inspection should be scheduled as soon as a purchase and sales agreement is signed. There are times throughout the year when scheduling inspections may take a month before an appointment can be made so it is important to schedule the inspection in a timely manner by calling the Fire Department at 781-797-4405.

Click here for a guideline pertaining to one- and two-family homes, which includes a significant change effective April 5, 2010 in the Massachusetts' smoke detector requirements for all residents subject to MGL c. 148, s. 26F upon sale or transfer.

Please note: All three- to five-family residential homes are required to be equipped with hardwired smoke detectors throughout the building.

Street Opening and Occupancy Permits

The Public Works Department requires that an opening and/or occupancy permit be applied for in the Engineering Division for all work within the public way (roadway or sidewalk area). Contractors must be appropriately insured and bonded to City Standards and must complete work and restore areas to city standards. The division maintains a listing of all contractors who are properly insured and bonded and whom have successfully completed work in Melrose.

 Yard Sale Permits

A permit for a yard sale is available in Inspection Services, located in the basement of City Hall.


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