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Sex establishment licence

How to apply for a sex establishment licence

Sex establishment

A sex establishment can be:

  • a sex shop is a place used for selling sex articles
  • a sex cinema used to show films of an R18 classification
  • a sexual entertainment venue - a place in which live performance, and possibly nudity, is provided for an audience to watch

The first two types of premises would require a sex establishment licence. The third requires a Sexual Entertainment Venue licence.

What we look at

When looking at an application from a sex establishment venue, we take into account:

  • how suitable the applicant is
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area (for example, schools and churches)
  • how many other similar places are nearby, do we have enough?


As part of the application you must:

  • advertise a notice of the application in the local press
  • display a notice outside the building for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by the closing date

To apply for a sex establishment licence you'll need:

  • the trading name 
  • the trading address
  • to pay the fee
  • a completed annex A form

Apply for a sex establishment licence

Licence cost

The licence will cost:

  • £1694.50 for a new application*
  • £1648.50 for a renewal application*
  • £1306.00 for a transfer of a licence*
  • £1349.00 for a variation application*

*£1247 will be refunded if no hearing is required for the issue of the licence.


If we refuse your application, or apply a condition you don't agree with you may appeal to the:

  • Magistrates' Court
  • at the Crown Court if you lose the appeal at the Magistrates Court

Offences and penalties

Anybody who runs a sex establishment without a licence or breaches their licence is committing an offence. Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.

Further information

For further information please view our Statement of Licensing Policy for Sex Establishments, and other associated documents at the bottom of this page.

Copies of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1963 and other relevant legislation can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.