Sex establishment licence

Sex establishments are required to be licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

A sex establishment can either be a sexual entertainment venue, sex shop or a sex cinema.

  • a sexual entertainment venue is a premises at which relevant entertainment such as a display of nudity for the purpose of sexual stimulation of a member of the audience, takes place before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer 
  • a sex shop is a premises used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling sex articles
  • a sex cinema is any premises used to a significant degree for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity 

The law defines the way in which an application is made, which include advertising notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give passers by the opportunity to comment by a statutory closing date.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence, we may only use the following criteria:

  • the suitability of the applicant
  • whether the person applying is a "front" person for someone else
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area
  • whether the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which the council considers appropriate for the area 

How to apply

The fees (VAT is not payable) involved with these applications are:

Sexual entertainment venue

  • new application: £7,010
  • renewal: £3,779
  • variation: £3,553
  • transfer: £678

Sex shop and cinema

  • new application: £6,596
  • renewal: £3,365
  • variation: £3,553
  • transfer: £678

To apply for this licence:

We are unable to accept this form by email because it must have a signature. Please print the form, sign it and return it to:

Environmental Services
Unit 1
Newfields Business Park
2 Stinsford Road
Poole
BH17 0NF

Your right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any condition to which a licence is subject may appeal to the 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.

Offences and penalties

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

Further information

Copies of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 can be purchased from the Office of Public Sector Information. You can also view the licensing policy for sex establishments.

Page last updated: 21 November 2019
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