Apply for a licence for a sex establishment

Tell us about a change to your existing sex establishment licence

To run a sex shop - ie any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from us. To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you also need a licence from us.

If we decide that it would be unreasonable or inappropriate for you to hold a licence, we may let you operate without one.

You can apply to us requesting us to waive the requirement of a licence.


An applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Ensure that no one under 18 works at or visits your premises
  • Not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • Have been a resident in the UK for at least 6 months, or be an incorporated UK body
  • Not have been refused a licence or renewal in the last 12 months, unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal
  • Follow the conditions of your licence, eg regulating your opening hours, shop displays, advertisements and how visible the interior of your shop is from outside

Regulation summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence

Application process

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.

Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and contain any information we require, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises.

Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

Will tacit consent apply?


It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted.

If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period, please contact us at

Failed application redress

Please contact us first.

Any applicant who is refused a licence, or refused the renewal of a licence, may, within 21 days of being notified of the refusal, appeal to the local magistrates' court.

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that:

  • the number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate
  • the grant of the licence would be inappropriate considering the character of the area, the nature of other premises in the area, or the premises themselves.

Licence holder redress

Please contact us first.

A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court. In Scotland licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to the local sheriff.

Other redress

Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence may give written notice of their objection to the relevant authority, stating the grounds of the objection, within 28 days of the date of the application.

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