You need a licence from us to run a sex establishment, which can either be:

  • Sex shop: a business premise which sells predominately sex articles
  • Sex cinema: any premise used to show films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to, stimulate sexual activity.

How to apply

As part of the application, you will be required to advertise in the local press and display a notice outside the premise for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment.

How much does it cost to apply

The application fee is £750 (non-refundable) with a licence fee of £3,250 once granted.

What will you consider?

We use the following criteria:

  • the suitability of the applicant 
  • whether the person applying is a ‘front’ for someone else
  • the location and situation of the premise in relation to other premises in the area
  • whether the number of sex establishments in the locality is equal to, or exceeds, the number considered appropriate for the area.

Your right of appeal

You may appeal an application refusal or any condition imposed on the licence to the Magistrates' Court.
If you are unhappy with the Magistrates’ Court decision, you may appeal at the Crown Court, however their decision is final.

Offences and penalties

Operating a sex establishment without a licence, failing to comply with licence conditions or admitting someone under 18 years of age is committing an offence. Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000. 

Further information

A copy of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, our standard conditions and get an application form via appointment at our offices.