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How to apply for a sex establishments licence

To operate a sex establishment, which can either be a sex shop or a sex cinema, you need to be licensed by us.
A sex shop is a premises used for business which consists, to a significant degree, of selling sex articles.

A sex cinema is anywhere used to a significant degree for showing films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to simulate, sexual activity. 

How to apply for a licence

To apply for a licence please fill in the sex establishment licence application form (PDF/44KB/14 pages).

Return the application form, the relevant documents and the licensing fee of £3189.37 (cheques made payable to SLDC) to the licensing group.

Considering an application

When you make an application you have to:

  • put notice of the application in the local press
  • display a notice outside the premises for a specific time to give passers by the chance to comment by a statutory closing date

When considering an application we may only consider: 

  • whether the applicant is suitable
  • whether the person applying is a front person for someone else
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises
  • whether the number of sex establisments in the area is equal to or exceeds the number which we consider appropriate


If you disagree with our decision to refuse a licence or with any conditions you can appeal to the Magistrates' Court. You can appeal against the Magistrates' Court decision at the Crown Court. The decision of the Crown Court is final.

Offences and Penalties

Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence,  fails to comply with licence conditions or admits people under 18 is committing an offence.

Penalties can range from £1,000 to £20,000.

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 can be viewed at South Lakeland House.