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Sex establishment licence - guidance

To run a sex establishment in Waverley you must ensure that it is licensed. Sex establishments must be licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, as amended by the Policing and Crime Act 2009. The definition of sex establishment includes:

  • sex cinemas, at which R18-certificate films can be shown
  • sex shops, which are premises, vehicles or stalls used for selling, displaying or demonstrating sex articles (which may include R18-certificate videos and DVDs) or other things used in connection with sexual activity or acts of force or restraint associated therewith
  • sexual entertainment venues, which are premises at which entertainment comprising live sexually stimulating performances or displays of nudity is provided in front of an audience, for the financial gain of the organiser or performers.

Licences are for a maximum of one year and may be shorter.


 We can waive the requirement for a licence if we think it would be unreasonable or inappropriate. For example:

  • where the premises are in place for a short time, eg an exhibition where sales are made, and where controls are in place which would be similar to those imposed by a licence
  • the sale, supply or demonstration of articles which are made for use primarily for birth control, or which primarily relate to birth control, do not fall within the definition of a sex article.
  • a sexual entertainment venue where:
    • relevant entertainment has not been provided on more than eleven occasions in any twelve month period and
    • on no occasion did the entertainment last more than 24 hours and
    • on no occasion was relevant entertainment provided within one month of any previous such entertainment.

 The law allows for a local authority to determine the number of sex establishments appropriate for an area. We have not determined any areas or set a number.

You will need to download and complete our PDF application form:

Application for a new, or renewal of, or transfer of, or variation of a Sex Establishment Licence

Contact the licensing department for details of current fees. Email

Failure to comply with legislative requirements is an offence. Enforcement action to pursue in respect of offences will be determined on a case by case basis and relevant codes of practice.