Sex establishments

Before applying

If you run a sex establishment you need to apply for a licence. A sex establishment is:

  • A sex shop - any premises selling sex toys, books or DVDs as a major part of their stock
  • A sex cinema – any cinema used for a significant amount of its business to show explicit films to the public

The licensing of sex establishments is regulated under schedule three of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

Applying for a sex establishment licence

To be eligible to apply for a licence you:

  • need to be 18 years old
  • must not have been disqualified from holding a licence
  • must have been resident in the UK for at least six months immediately before the application
  • need to be incorporated in the UK if applying as a corporate body
  • must not have been refused the grant or renewal of a licence for the premises in question within the last 12 months

If you are eligible you can apply online on the GOV.UK website.

You need to pay a fee of £4,655.50 and will need to include an area street plan, internal layout plan of the premises and a notice of intent to run a sex shop/establishment.

Once you have made an application you need to advertise your intentions in the local newspaper within seven days of your application being received by us.

To apply please email:

How long does it take

It takes 42 days to process your application. You can act as if the licence has been granted if you have not heard from us by the end of the target completion date which is two months from the date of application.

Renew my licence

You need to renew your licence every year and pay a fee of £4,655.50.

To renew please email:

Make changes to my licence

If you need to make changes to your business, make changes to the layout of your premises or transfer your licence to a new licence-holder who will run the business in future you must let us know. You can email us at


Fee typeCost
New licence application £5,181
Renewal licence application £5,181
Transfer of licence £2,530