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Overview

Contact your council for a licence if you want to run a sex shop or adult cinema in England or Wales.

Sex establishments are banned in certain areas. Check with your council before applying.

Restrictions

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, eg regulating your opening hours, shop displays, advertisements and how visible the interior of your shop is from outside

How to apply

Apply to the council in the area your business will operate.

Your application must include:

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

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

If you don’t apply electronically you must also send a copy of your application to the local police.

You’ll need to renew your licence every year.

Exemptions

If the council decides that it would be unreasonable or inappropriate for you to hold a licence, you might be allowed to operate without one.

You can request an exemption when you apply for your licence, or your council might allow you to apply for one separately.

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.