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The law defines a sex establishment as any premises used for a business that sells, hires, exchanges, lends, displays or demonstrates:

  • 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.

Sex establishment eligibility

Sex shop operations are strictly controlled by the conditions of the licence. To be eligible for a licence, applicants 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 the applicant is a corporate body, they must be incorporated in the UK
  • not have been previously refused a licence for the premises in question within the last 12 months, unless the refusal has been reversed following an appeal.

 Sex establishment licenses must be renewed every 12 months, the application must be re-advertised and be subject to a premises inspection. Licence renewal will only be reconsidered by the licensing panel if objections are received. 

Apply for a sex establishment licence

You can apply and pay online for a sex shop and cinema licence. When applying for a licence, your application:

  • must be submitted with a copy of the premises plans, the correct fee and the your statutory declaration of any criminal convictions
  • must be advertised in a local newspaper and on the premises
  • will be subject to a 28 day objection period after it has been advertised.

You must also notify the public by advertising your application:

  • on the premises using a display notice
  • in the Bury Times local newspaper.

Notices on the premises must be displayed for 21 days from the date you submitted your application and must be easily visible to the public.

Newspaper advert notices must be advertised no later than seven day after the date you submitted your application. 

You may download and use our templates for display notices and newspaper adverts.

Application process

We aim to process your application within 28 days. Tacit consent does not apply. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted.

When considering an application for a sex establishment licence, we'll consider:

  • your suitability as an applicant
  • whether you are the true and correct occupier of a licence
  • the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area
  • any objections we receive regarding your application.

Successful applications will be provisionally approved, subject to a premises inspection by a fire officer, our electrical engineer and a building control officer. This inspection will determine the safety and suitability of the premises. If your licence is granted, we will send it to you. 

If your application is unsuccessful, we'll explain why and how you can request a review of our decision.

Members of the public who would like to object a licence application can submit their objections to us in writing during the 28 day objection period.