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Sex establishment licence

How to apply for a Sex establishment licence and what to do if you want to object to an application.

You will need to apply to us for a sex establishment licence if you want to run a sex shop or adult cinema.

Licensable activities include:

  • 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
  • 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


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

How to apply

You can apply by downloading our application form.

Application for the grant or renewal of a licence for a sex establishment (PDF) [42KB]

Before you start

There is a £4500 fee.

You can pay by credit or debit card over the phone, by internet banking or by sending us a cheque.

You'll need to renew your licence every year.

Your application must include:

  • your personal details (including any criminal convictions)
  • an application fee
  • any relevant supporting documents

Publish and display your application

Once you've applied for a licence you must:

  • publish an advert about your application in a local newspaper
  • display a notice about your application in or near your premises for 21 days

You must also send a copy of your application to Essex Police (Braintree Licensing Unit) not later than 7 days after the date of your application.

What happens next

We aim to decide on your application for a sex establishment licence within 40 working days.

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, or if you break any of the conditions of your licence, you could be fined up to £20,000.

Find out more about sex establishment licences

Object to an application

If you want to object to an application for a sex establishment you must write to us stating the grounds for your objection, within 28 days of the date of the application.

Conditions applied to licensed sex establishments at (the licensed premises) as granted under the 3rd Schedule of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 as amended.

Tacit consent

Tacit consent applies to sex establishment licences. In this case, we must process your application before it can be granted.
Where tacit consent does apply, this means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from us by the end of the target completion period.

Conditions of a licence

Conditions applied to licensed sex establishments at (the licensed premises) as granted under the 3rd Schedule of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 as amended.

1 Hours of opening

1.1 The Licensed premises shall not be open to the public before 9.30 am and shall not be kept open after 6.00 pm from Monday to Saturday (inclusive).

1.2 The licensed premises shall not be open to the public on Sundays, Christmas Day or Good Friday.

2 Management and staffing of the licensed premises

2.1 Where the Licensee is a body corporate or an unincorporated body, any change of director, company secretary or other person responsible for in the management of the body is to be notified in writing to the Licensing Authority within fourteen days of such change and such written details as the Licensing Authority may require in respect of any new director secretary or manager are to be furnished within fourteen days of a request in writing from the Licensing Authority.

2.2 The name of the person responsible for the management of the licensed premises, whether the Licensee or a manager approved by the Licensing Authority shall be prominently displayed within the licensed premises throughout the period during which that person is responsible for its conduct.

2.3 The Licensee shall notify the Licensing Authority and the Police of the name and address, and date of birth of any manager or employee involved at the premises within 7 days of them commencing employment. In the case of existing staff at the time the Sex Establishment licence comes into operation for the first time, this information shall be supplied to the Licensing Authority within 14 days of the licence coming into operation. The Licensing Authority shall reserve the right to object to persons being involved with the premises where they are unsuitable, e.g. by way of previous relevant criminal convictions.

2.4 At all times during which the premises are open to the public, one or more approved persons shall be present on the premises and shall be responsible for their management. An approved person for the purposes of this condition shall be a person approved in writing in advance by the licensing authority following the submission of details and a satisfactory photograph by the Licensee. A person shall only be approved for the purposes of this condition if the licensing authority considers him or her to be a suitable person to have control of the premises.

2.5 No person under the age of 18 shall be admitted to the licensed premises or employed by the licensee to work at the licensed premises.

2.6 The Licensee shall ensure that no part of the licensed premises shall be used by prostitutes (male or female) for soliciting or for any immoral purposes.

2.7 Neither the Licensee nor any employee or other person shall seek to obtain custom for he licensed premises by means of personal solicitation, by means of flyers, handouts or any like thing, outside or in the vicinity of the licensed premises.

2.8 A copy of the licence and these conditions shall be displayed in accordance with paragraph 14 (1) of Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 in a conspicuous position at the premises for the customers to see.

2.9 No amusement or gaming machines of any kind, whether for prizes or otherwise, shall be kept or used upon the licensed premises any time.

3 External appearance

3.1 Windows and openings to the licensed premises other than entrances shall not be obscured otherwise than with the consent of the Licensing Authority but shall have suspended immediately behind them, plain light coloured screens or blinds of a type and design approved by the Licensing Authority. No advertisements or other notices or items shall be displayed so as to be visible from the exterior of the premises, subject to conditions 3.2 and 3.3.

3.2 The Licensing Authority shall approve the design of the front elevation of the shop which shall include reference to the name of the shop, its postal address, opening hours, website address and any security grilles/shutters.

3.3 The exterior and entrance to the licensed premises shall be suitably screened so as to prevent any part of the interior being visible from outside the shop. There shall be a solid outer and inner door fitted with automatic closures with such devices being maintained in good working order. On the external facing of the inner door, there shall be displayed a notice in accordance with the requirements of the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981 namely:

 "Persons passing beyond this notice will find material on display which they may consider indecent. No admittance to persons under 18 years of age".

4 Maintenance and repair

4.1 The Licensee shall maintain the licensed premises in good order, repair and state of cleanliness at all times. This will include the need to maintain the front and rear of the premises in a clean and tidy condition, and to take appropriate measures to keep secure from public access (including unauthorised access) refuse and discarded sex articles/waste stock emanating from the premises pending prompt removal from site.

4.2 The licensee shall comply with any fire prevention and safety measures that may be required by the Fire Authority.

5 General

5.1 The licence shall be revocable in the event of the Licensing Authority being reasonably satisfied that a breach of any of the foregoing conditions has occurred and the licence holder may be liable to prosecution.

In addition to the above conditions, it is the duty of the licence holder to comply with all the requirements of Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.