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Sex establishments and entertainment venues licence

To run a sex shop, sex cinema or sexual entertainment venue in County Durham, you need a licence from us.

A sex shop is any premises selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating sex articles or R18 videos.

A sex cinema is any premises showing films classified as R18.

A sexual entertainment venue is any premises where relevant entertainment is provided in front of a live audience for financial gain to the organiser or entertainer.

Eligibility criteria

An applicant:

  • must be at least 18 years old.
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence.
  • must have been resident in the UK for at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate (a legal entity such as an association, company, person, government, government agency, or institution identified by a particular name) 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.

Application evaluation process

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached (see below).

Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and must contain full details of all information that we ask for in order to be considered.

As part of the process, applicants will be required to give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper and a notice on the premises. A copy of the application must be sent to the Chief Officer of Police.

All applications will be determined by the General Licensing and Registration Sub Committee.

Applicable fees

  • £3,690 on application
  • £107 charge upon grant of the licence

Apply online

Please make sure you've checked our Icon for pdf sex establishment and sexual entertainment venue licensing policy (PDF, 286.1kb)  before you apply.

Implied granting of licence ('tacit consent')

In the interests of public safety, tacit authorisation does not apply to new or renewal applications for sex establishment licences. This means you must wait for the council to determine your application before you can operate a sex establishment.

Our target completion period for processing a correctly completed application is 90 working days. We aim to acknowledge your application within five working days of receipt. Please contact us if you have not received acknowledgement within 10 working days.

Applicant redress

If an application for a licence is refused, the applicant can appeal to the local magistrates' court, or crown court depending on the grounds for refusal, within 21 days of notice of the decision. 

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In partnership with

  • EUGO
Contact us
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • PO Box 617
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 9HZ