Licences for Sex Establishments

By law, nobody can operate a sex shop unless they are licensed by their local authority. A licence usually lasts for one year.

A sex establishment is any place where articles intended to encourage sexual activity are sold or displayed. This includes Rated 18 certificated videos or DVDs which can only be sold from licensed premises. Cinemas used for the showing of R18 films are also sex establishments. This is defined in Schedule 3 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

When receiving an application for a sex establishment people who are likely to be affected by the application, including the Police will be consulted.


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.

Epping Forest District Council has a policy and conditions that need to be met by the applicant.  Applicants must read these conditions so that they are fully conversant with the application requirements and process.  If you have any questions relating to this policy, please contact the Licensing Service on 01992 564043.


Regulation Summary

A summary of the regulation relating to this licence is available by clicking on the link below:


Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 - OPSI site


Application Evaluation Process

A fee of £556.00 is payable for new and renewal applications for Sex Shops and Cinemas, and a fee of £4325 is payable for Sexual Entertainment Venues with a renewal fee of £2160 .  Conditions may be attached to the licence and all issued licences are subject to the Licensing Authority's standard conditions for sex establishments.

Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and contain any information the Licensing Authority requires as specified in the conditions as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises.


Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No.  It is in the public interest that the Licensing Authority must process your application before it can be granted.  If you have not heard from the Licensing Authority within a reasonable period, please contact us on 01992 564034 or at  Alternatively, you can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes Service or use the contact details below.


How do I apply for a Sex Establishment Licence?


Apply Online


Alternatively application forms are available from:

•Director of Corporate Support Services
•Licensing Section
•Epping Forest District Council
•Civic Offices
•High Street
Essex CM16 4BZ

or you can download a copy of the application form below:



You must submit your completed application and your fee to the address given above or you can email the application form to:

You must also submit a copy of your application to the Police Licensing Unit at the address below within 7 days of submitting your application to the Licensing Section:

Peter Jones,

Epping Police Station,

Epping High Street,

Essex CM16 4AP

If you send your application to us by email, we will forward a copy of your application to the Police Licensing Unit.


When completing your application, you must also complete the Notices and Certifications below:


Notices and Certifications

Applicants for a Sex Establishment Licence must give public notice of the application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper that is circulated in the local authority area no later than 7 days after the date the application is made:

Where the application relates to premises, a notice should also be displayed on or near the premises in a place where it can be conveniently read by members of the public.  The notice must be on A4 paper and the text printed in black ink.  It should be displayed for a period of 21 days beginning with the date the application was made:


All notices should be in the form prescribed by Epping Forest District Council and identify the premises or, if the application relates to a vehicle, vessel or stall, specify where it will be used as a sex establishment. You must send both Forms of Certification to the Licensing Authority when you submit the application.

Most sexual entertainment venues will require a Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate granted under the Licensing Act 2003, as well as a Sex Establishment Licence, in order to sell/supply alcohol, provide regulated entertainment, and provide late night refreshment. Visit our Licensing page for more information.

People have 28 days to raise an objection.  If you wish to object to an application please click on the link below:




A public register is available to view at the Council's Offices during normal office hours.  To make an appointment to view the registers please contact the Licensing Service.


How will my application be considered?

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

The licence will be subject to such terms and conditions or restrictions as the Council sees fit.

Please contact the Licensing Autority in the first instance.

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 Essex Magistrates Court, 80 Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, Essex  SS2 6EU.

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that:

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

Please contact the Licensing Autority in the first instance.

Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to the Essex Magistrates Court, 80 Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, Essex  SS2 6EU.

If an application for a licence is refused, or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may, within 21 days of being notified of the decision appeal to the Essex Magistrates Court, 80 Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, Essex  SS2 6EU.

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

{/slide}{slider=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 of a letter (with proof of delivery).  If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Advice Guide will give you advice.  From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre

Any person who wishes to appeal against a decision to close a zoo may apply to the local magistrates' court or, in Scotland, to the Sheriff.  Appeals must be made within 28 days of the notice of the local authority decision.


Offences and Penalties

Anybody who operates a sex establishment without a licence, or fails to comply with a licence condition, or admits a person under the age of 18, is committing an offence. The statutory maximum penalty is £20,000.


Trade Associations


Phone Contact us....

Telephone: 01992 564034
Fax: 01992 561016

Or you can write to us at:
Licensing Team, Neighbourhoods Directorate, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, ,  Epping , Essex CM16 4BZ

Click here for full contact information