Sex Establishment Licence

Sex Establishments are required to be licensed under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982

  •  A sex shop is a premises used for business which consists to a significant degree of selling sex articles.
  • A sex cinema is any premises used to a significant degree for showing of films which are concerned primarily with, or relate to, or are intended to stimulate sexual activity.
  • A sexual entertainment venue is considered to be a premises in which any live performance or any live display of nudity which is of such a nature that, ignoring financial gain, it must reasonably be assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience (whether by verbal or other means).

The first two types of premises would require a sex establishment licence and the latter would require a sexual entertainment venue licence

How to apply

The law defines how an application is made including advertising notice of the application in the local press and displaying a notice outside the premises for a specific time period to give the general public the opportunity to comment by a statutory closing date.

Applications can be made to the local authority using the application form below. Before completing your application, your attention is drawn to our privacy and data retention policy

To ensure confidentiality of the applicant’s personal information annex A (PDF) to the application can be downloaded and submitted at the same time.

Please send your application with the appropriate fee payment to the Licensing Section using the contact details below:

Requests for an application form can also be made by contacting licensing (external link) or calling 01353 665555 and asking to speak to a member of the Licensing Section.  

It is in the public interest that East Cambridgeshire District Council must process your application before it can be authorised.  If you have not received a response to your application within a reasonable period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service (external link) or use the contact details below:

Licensing Section, East Cambridgeshire District Council, The Grange, Nutholt Lane, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB6 4EE


  • £3761.00 - Application or renewal fee
  • £1880.50 - Variation or transfer fee


When considering an application for a Sex Establishment Licence the Council may only use the following criteria:

  •  the suitability of the applicant
  •  if the person applying is a ‘front’ person for someone else
  •  the location and situation of the premises in relation to other premises in the area  if the number of sex establishments in that locality is equal to, or exceeds the number which the Council considers appropriate for the area.

Right of appeal

  1. Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence, or by any condition to which a licence is subject, may appeal to the Magistrates' Court.
  2. An appeal against a decision made at the Magistrates’ Court may be appealed at the Crown Court but the decision of the Crown Court is final.

Offences and penalties

  1.  Any person who operates a sex establishment without a licence or fails to comply with a licence condition or admits persons under the age of 18 is committing an offence.
  2.  Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.

Further information

East Cambridgeshire District Council Sex Establishments and Sexual Entertainment Venues Licensing Policy - Sex Establishments and Sexual Entertainment Venues Policy.

Copies of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and other legislation mentioned can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Contact details

If you are an applicant or a third party, you should always contact us in the first instance if you have any queries, concerns or cause for complaint preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery.    If you are not satisfied with the outcome and are located in the UK, Citizens Advice Consumer Service (external link) will give you advice.  If you are from outside the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre (external link).

For further information contact licensing or call 01353 665555.

EUGO website (external link)GOV.UK website (external link)