Exit Accessibility View

Sex establishments

Sex Establishments are required to be licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, Schedule 3.  Section 2 of the Act provides for the adoption of the provisions contained within Schedule 3, which then allows Local Authorities who have set in place these procedures to control sex establishments in their area by way of a licensing regime.

Licences are granted for a one year period, subject to terms and conditions.

The supply, sale or demonstration of articles which are manufactured for use primarily for the purposes of birth control or primarily related to birth control are exempt.

A Sex Establishment can be either a Sex Shop or a Sex Cinema.

Sex Cinema means any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall used to a significant degree for the exhibition of moving pictures, by whatever means produced which:

  • Are primarily concerned with the portrayal of, or primarily deal with, or relate to or are intended to stimulate or encourage sexual activity or acts of force or restraint associated with sexual activity.
  • Are primarily concerned with the portrayal of, or primarily deal with, or relate to genital organs or urinary or excretory functions.

In layman’s terms this means premises used to a significant degree for the exhibition of pornographic films.

A dwelling house to which the public is not admitted is exempt.

Sex Shop means any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall used for a business which consists to a significant degree of:

  • selling, hiring or exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating sex articles or
  • other things intended for use in connection with or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity or acts of force or restraint associated with sexual activity.

In layman’s terms this means premises used for a business which consists to a significant degree of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating pornographic material.  This includes pornographic books, magazines, videos/records and articles designed for use as stimulants in the course of sexual activities.

Sex Article means anything made for use in connection with, or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity.

Sex article also applies to:

  • Any article containing or embodying matter to be read or looked at or anything intended to be used (either alone or as one of a set), for the reproduction or manufacture of any such article.
  • Any recording or vision or sound that is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or is primarily related to or deals with,  or is intended to stimulate or encourage sexual activity or acts of force or restraint primarily associated with sexual activity.
  • Any recording, vision or sound that is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, is primarily related to or deals with genital organs or urinary or excretory functions.

“Significant Degree” could be based on any one or more of the turnover, profit, stock levels, floor area or display area or any other means of measuring the business in sexual articles.

Close

The application:

  • Must be in writing and contain any particulars reasonably required by the Local Authority.
  • A Public Notice must be given.
  • Notice, in all cases, must include publishing an advertisement in a local newspapers.
  • Where premises are to be used a Notice must be displayed for 21 days on or near the premises where the Notice can conveniently be read by the public.
  • The Police must be informed.
  • Any person wishing to object to an application to grant, renew or transfer a Licence shall do so in writing to the appropriate Local Authority.  They shall state, in general terms, the grounds for the objection,  This is to be done no later than 28 days after the date of the application.
  • Any Local Authority receiving notice of an objection shall, before considering the application, give notice, in writing, of the objection to the applicant.
  • The Local Authority shall not divulge any details of the person making the objection to the applicant without the prior consent of the objector.
  • In considering any application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a Licence the Local Authority will give regard to any observation submitted to them by the police and to any objections to the Notice advertised and displayed by the applicant.
  • If the Local Authority refuses to grant, renew or transfer a Licence they shall, if required to do so by the applicant or holder of the Licence, give them a statement in writing of the reasons for their decisions within 7 days of them requiring the Authority to do so.
Close

A Licence shall not be granted for the following reasons:

  • If a person is under 18 years of age.
  • If a person is disqualified from holding a Licence under the Act.
  • To a person who is not resident in the UK, or who has not been resident during the 6 month period immediately preceding the date of the application.
  • To a Body Corporate which is not incorporated in the UK.
  • To a person who has, within a 12 month period immediately preceding the date of the application, been refused the grant or renewal of a Licence for the same premises named on the application.

Definition of a Body Corporate - An organisation or group of persons that is identified by a particular name and that acts, or may act, as an entity. Typical examples of corporate bodies are associations, institutions, business firms, nonprofit enterprises, governments, government agencies, religious bodies, local churches, and conferences.

The Act also allows for Licences to be refused using discretion.  Careful and balanced reasons will need to be given in respect of the following matters:

  • That the applicant is unsuitable to hold a Licence by reason of having been convicted of an offence or for any other reason.
  • That, if the Licence were granted, the business to which it related would be managed by or carried on for the benefit of a person, other than the applicant, who would be refused the grant, renewal or transfer of such a Licence if they made the application themselves.
  • That the number of Sex Establishments in the Authority at the time the application is made is equal to or exceeds the number which the Authority considers is appropriate for the locality.
  • That the grant of a Licence would be inappropriate when having regard to the character of the Authority, to the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put or to the layout, character, condition of the premises in respect to which the application is made.

Relevant locality is defined as the locality where the premises are located or, in relation to a vehicle, vessel or stall, any locality where it is desired to use it as a Sex Establishment.

Close

Any applicant who feels aggrieved by a decision to refuse a Licence, or by any condition to which a Licence is subject to, may appeal to the Magistrates Court.

Close
  • Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a Licence or fails to comply with Licence condition or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence.
  • Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.
Close

Fees



2017 - 2018
Sex establishments - initial application
£1700
Sex establishments - annual renewal or transfer
£820
Sexual entertainment venues - initial application
£3000
Sexual entertainment venues - renewal
£1500


Close

Application forms and notices

The application must be advertised by placing a notice on or near to the premises named in the application, where the Notice can conveniently be read by the public. This notice must be displayed for a period of 21 days.

Notice, in all cases, must include publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

To download a notice please select the link below that is relevant to the area in which the premises are situated.

Frequently asked questions

Only if the premises in question holds a Premises Licence under the Licensing Act 2003.

Close

NO.  R18 films can only be shown at premises licensed as a Sex Cinema.

Close

NO.  R18 videos/DVDs can only be sold at a registered sex shop.

Close

The R18 classification is set by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and is a legally restricted classification primarily for explicit videos of consenting sex between adults.

Close

Share this page

Last updated: 30 March 2017 | Last reviewed: 30 March 2017