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Sex shops and sex cinemas

To run a sex shop where items can be purchased or a venue where films are shown to members of the public, you need a licence from the local authority.

Licence summary

You need a licence from your local authority if you run:

  • a sex shop - ie any premises selling sex toys, books or R18 category films
  • a venue where R18 films are shown to members of the public

What you need to know before applying

An applicant:

  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • 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

Application evaluation process

  • Fees [207kb] will be payable for applications and conditions will be attached
  • Applications must be in writing and 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.

How to apply

Apply online    

An online application will require you to register with Business Link, an easy process that gives you an online account that you can use across different government services.

We aim to acknowledge your application within three working days. If you have applied online we will acknowledge your application via email.

Help (small) Help is provided about online applications.

Application forms

Sex shop and cinema licence

Change a sex shop and cinema licence 

What happens next

If your application is not processed by the local authority within the timescales stated tacit consent will not apply. This means that there is a risk to public safety, so it is in the public interest that the local authority must process your application before it can grant a licence. If we have not contacted you by the end of the target completion period, please get in touch with us. You can do this online if you applied through Business Link or contact the Regulatory Service.

Target completion period

We will process your application as quickly as possible and, in any event, within the following timescales:

  • 20 working days for an application for a sex shop and cinema licence
  • 20 working days for an application change a sex shop and cinema licence

Failed application and licence holder redress

Please contact Hillingdon Council in the first instance.

Any applicant who is refused a licence, or refused the renewal of a licence, or whose licence is revoked, may, within 21 days of being notified of the refusal or revocation, appeal to Uxbridge Magistrates' Court. A licence holder may also appeal to the crown court against a decision of the magistrates' court.

The right to appeal does not apply, however, 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 

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint, you make the first contact with the trader, preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked and you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice consumer service will give you advice. From outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other redress

Any person objecting to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of 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.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 03 Oct 2017 at 09:00