Sex Establishment Licence

A Sex Establishment Licence allows the holder to operate a Sex Shop, Sex Cinema and Sexual Entertainment Venue

LICENCE Name

Sex Establishment License

AUTHORITY

Local council

TIME TO GET LICENCED 28 days (varies depending on local authority)
COST £3,500
VALID FOR 1 year
ELIGIBILITY 18+ years, right to work in UK, must not be disqualified from holding a licence, must not have been refused the grant or renewal of a licence for the premises in question within the last 12
QUALIFICATION(S) NEEDED N/A
STEPS
1 Submit application via local council
Visit - www.gov.uk/sex-shop-and-cinema-licence
Have eligibility requirements
Submit requested documentation
2 Implement public notice of application
Advertise application by means of a notice displayed at premises for 21 consecutive days
Publish notice of application in a local newspaper within 7 days of making the application
Get Licenced

What is a Sex Establishment Licence?

A Sex Establishment Licence allows the holder to operate a Sex Shop, Sex Cinema and Sexual Entertainment Venue.

What is a sex establishment?

Sex Establishments are defined by schedule two of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

By definition a sex establishment can be any of the following:

Sex Shop

A sex shop (also called adult shop, erotic shop or adult book store) is a retailer that sells products related to adult sexual or erotic entertainment, such as vibrators, lingerie, clothing, R18-certificate pornography, and other related sexual orientated products.

Some sex shop establishments may also show R18-certificate pornographic movies in private video booths, or have private striptease or peep shows.

In some sex shops, private booths are available where customers can view or purchase pornographic movies. These are often known as pornographic movie viewing areas.

Sex Cinema

A sex cinema (also called an adult movie theatre) is a premise used primarily for the showing of R18-certificate films which are concerned pornographic and portray and stimulate sexual activity.

Certain sex cinemas may also include a strip show or a sex show between films.

Sexual Entertainment Venue

Sexual entertainment venues are defined as establishments where live performance or live display of nudity occurs, or a live performance which is intended to stimulate sexual activity.

This can come in the form of many guises, including:

Lap dancing 

Pole dancing 

Table dancing 

Strip shows 

Peep shows 

Live sex show

More often then lot there are strict polices and protocols put in place which protect entertainment workers who operate within these types of establishments. This prevents the touching of assigned workers and discourages physical contact.

However, in some establishments private booths are available.

Please note - A sex establishment venue does not include a brothel. Currently in the UK, brothels are illegal.

Eligibility

To apply for a sex establishment license an applicant must first match the following requirements:

must be at least 18 years old.

must not be disqualified from holding a licence.

must have been resident in the UK for at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate (a legal entity such as an association, company, person, government, government agency, or institution identified by a particular name) 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.

How to apply for a Sex Establishment License

Applications must be made via your local council. Each council will have their own application process and some may differ accordingly.

To find out what council you fall under and to begin the application process please visit the official government website.

Once directed on the website, you will be asked to enter your postcode. From here you will be provided the contact details for the relevant governing council.

Please note: Sex establishments are banned in certain areas. Check with your council before applying.

When applying for a sex establishment license application you must include:

your personal details (including any previous criminal convictions)

application fees (the licence fee is payable when submitting your application and the amount of the fee varies depending on the local authority)

any relevant supporting documents as established by your local authority

if you do not have electronic copies, most local authorities accept scanned documents, providing the relevant information is clear.

Once you’ve applied for a licence you must:

Be required to advertise your application by means of a notice displayed at the premises for 21 consecutive days and by publishing notice of the application in a local newspaper within 7 days of making the application.

If you don’t apply electronically you must also send a copy of your application to the local police.

Fines and penalties

You could be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t display a copy of your licence and licensing conditions in your premises.

If you run a sex shop or cinema without a licence you could be fined up to £20,000.

Cost of Sex Establishment License

The following application fees are payable with any application for a sex establishment licence:

  • application for a new sex establishment licence: £1000£3,500
  • application to renew a current sex establishment licence: £1000£2,500
  • application to vary a sex establishment licence: £500£3,500
  • application to transfer a sex establishment licence: £500 - £700

Please note - Price of  sex establishment license can vary depending on local authority.

FAQs

If you planning to open a sex establishment, such as a sex shop, sex cinema or sexual entertainment venue, you will require a sex establishment licence from the council.

A sex establishment is defined as either a sex shop, sex cinema or a sexual entertainment venue.

Applicants for sex establishment licences must be over 18, and not be disqualified from holding a licence (for example, because they have been refused a licence in the previous 12 months, unless that refusal was subsequently overturned on appeal).

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence, the local authority will use the following criteria:

the suitability of the applicant

whether the applicant is a "front" person for someone else

the location and situation of the premise in relation to other premises in the area (it's near a school, place of worship or family shopping area)

Trading during the application period is not permitted.

If a licence is granted, the holder may carry on the permitted activities at the premises for a period of one year. The licence must be renewed towards the end of this period if it is intended to continue providing the activities.

Premises which provide sexual entertainment on an infrequent basis, may apply for a temporary event notice. 

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

if you operate a sex establishment without a licence, fail to comply with licence conditions or admit persons under 18, then you are committing an offence Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.