To run a sex shop - ie any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from the local authority. To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you also need a licence from the local authority.
However, you may apply to the local authority requesting them to waive the requirement of a licence.
must be at least 18 years old
must not be disqualified from holding a licence
must have been resident in the UK at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, must be incorporated in the UK
must not have been refused the grant or renewal of a licence for the premises in question within the last 12 months unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal
A summary of the eligibility criteria for this licence (external website)
Application Evaluation Process
Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.
Applications must contain any information the local authority requires, 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?
No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it. You can do this online here
if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below.
Apply online (via businesslink.gov.uk)
Apply for a licence for a sex establishment (external website)
Tell us about a change to your existing sex establishment licence (external website)
Failed Application Redress
Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.
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 in the first instance.
A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court.
We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct (external website) will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre. (external website)
Licence holders may at any time apply to the authority for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions in their licence.
If an application for a variation is refused, or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may, within 21 days of being notified of the imposition of, or the refusal to vary, the term, condition or restriction in question, or of the revocation, appeal to the local magistrates' court.
A licence holder may also appeal to the crown court against a decision of a magistrates' court.
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.
Return to the list of licences