Sex Establishments Licences

To run a sex shop (any premises selling sex toys, books or videos) or a sex cinema (showing explicit films to the public) you may need a licence from East Herts Council.

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

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.

Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and contain any information East Herts Council 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.

You can apply for licence online.

You can also apply to vary an existing licence online.

Tacit consent does not apply so once an application has been made you must wait until you are notified of the grant of the licence before operating.


If an application is refused or you do not agree with a condition attached to the licence you can appeal to magistrates court within 21 days of being notified of the decision.

However, there is no right of appeal if 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; or
  • 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.

For more advice please contact the Licensing Team or 01992 531503