Sex establishment licence

You will need to contact the council for a licence if you want to run a sex shop or adult cinema in the district.

What is a sex establishment licence?

A sex establishment can include the following:

  • Sex cinemas, at which R18-certificate films can be shown
  • Sex shops, which are premises, vehicles or stalls used for selling, displaying or demonstrating sex articles (which may include R18-certificate videos and DVDs) or other things used in connection with sexual activity or acts of force or restraint associated therewith
  • Sexual entertainment venues, which are premises at which entertainment comprising live sexually stimulating performances or displays of nudity is provided in front of an audience, for the financial gain of the organiser or performers. Provision of such entertainment on no more than 11 occasions per year, with at least a calendar month between each occasion, will not require a sex establishment licence


You must:

  • Be over 18
  • 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 the last 6 months, or be an incorporated UK body
  • Not have been refused a licence or renewal in the last 12 months, unless the decision was later reversed
  • Follow the conditions of your licence, e.g. regulating your opening hours, shop displays, advertisements and how visible the interior of your shop is from outside

Application forms and documents

Application for the grant or renewal of a licence for a sex establishment (PDF) [40KB]


The fee is currently £4500 per annum.

Find out more about sex establishment licences

Further information is available on our Sex establishment licence frequently asked questions page.