Sex shop, cinema and entertainment venue licence

Sex shop, cinema and entertainment venue licence

About sex shop licences

To run a sex shop - i.e. any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from the local authority. To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you also need a licence from the local authority.

Operators of lap-dancing clubs and other sexual entertainment venues may have to apply for a sex entertainment licence in order to allow their premises to provide 'relevant entertainment'. Relevant entertainment is any live performance or live display of nudity provided solely or mainly to sexually stimulate any member of the audience.

An applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • Have been resident in the UK at least six months immediately before the application or, if a business, must be incorporated in the UK
  • 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

Regulation Summary

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982

What we will check:

Applications must contain any information the local authority requires, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises. Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.


The fee for an application to grant a licence for a sex establishment is £3,277.00. There may be conditions may be attached to the licence.

Licence holders may apply at any time to the local authority for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions of their licence.

Successful application

It is in the public interest that the Local Authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the Local Authority you are not licensed to run a sex establishment. If you have not heard from the Local Authority within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcome service or use the contact details below.

Apply online

Apply for a licence for a sex establishment

Tell us about a change to your existing sex establishment licence


Please contact Council in the first instance at the address below:

Licensing Team
Buckinghamshire Council
King George V House
King George V Road


Any applicant who is refused a licence, or refused renewal of a licence, or wishes to appeal against a condition on the 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 grounds that:

  • The number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which the Authority considers is appropriate
  • Granting of the licence would be inappropriate considering the character of the area, the nature of other premises in the area, or the premises themselves

A licence holder may also appeal to the Crown Court against a decision of a Magistrates' Court.

Consumer Complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you preferably in the form a letter with proof of delivery. If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK,  Adviceguide UK  will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Licence holders may at any time apply to the authority for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions in their licence.

Other Redress

Any person objecting to an application to grant, renew or transfer 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.

Complaints procedure