Sex establishment licence


For any place, vehicle, vessel or stall where articles encouraging sexual activity are sold, hired, exchanged, demonstrated or displayed (inc. R18 cert videos or DVDs).


A sex establishment is any place where articles such as sex toys and books intended to encourage sexual activity are sold.  This includes R18 certificated videos or DVDs which may only be sold from licensed premises.
A venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public is also a sex establishment and will require a licence from the local authority.

Where a licence is granted there will be standard conditions attached to the licence and in certain circumstances, conditions that are special and particular to that licence.

Eligibility criteria

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.

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.

Regulation summary
Sex establishments in Brent are controlled by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982

Application evaluation process

All applications must be accompanied by the current application fee.

When we receive an application for a sex establishment we will consult with persons likely to be affected by the application.

We will consult with other Local Authorities where the applicant has existing shops and with the police.

All applicants are required to publish notice of their application in a newspaper circulating in that area.

An application for a licence may be refused if the applicant has a previous conviction connected with a sex establishment or if the area where the proposed establishment is to be situated is not suitable.

All licences have to be renewed annually.

Where a licence is granted there will be standard conditions attached to the licence and in certain circumstances, conditions that are special and particular to that premises.

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 from this authority within a reasonable period, please contact us.

Failed application redress

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:

  1. the number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which the authority consider is appropriate.
  2. 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.

Licence holder redress

A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court.

If an application for a variation is refused, or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may, within 21 days of being notified of the imposition of, or the refusal to vary, the term, condition or restriction in question, or of the revocation, appeal to the local magistrates' court.

An appeal against a decision made at the Magistrates Court may be appealed at the Crown Court but the decision of the Crown Court is final.

Consumer complaint

Other redress

Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence may give written notice of their objection to the relevant authority, stating the grounds of the objection, within 28 days of the date of the application.

For further information please contact us.