Sex shops

Information on the licenses required to operate a sex shop, and how to apply.

What do I need to know?

To run a sex shop - ie. any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from the local authority.

To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you also may need a licence from the local authority.

Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

An applicant:

  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • must have been resident in the UK at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, 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

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence(external link).

What happens next?

If I don't hear from you for 4 weeks, can I assume it's been granted ("tacit consent")?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard within a reasonable period, please contact us.

If I'm turned down, how do I appeal?

Please contact us in the first instance.

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

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that:

  • the number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate
  • the grant of the licence would be inappropriate considering the character of the area, the nature of other premises in the area, or the premises themselves