Sex shops and sex establishments

Sex shops

To open a sex shop you must first apply to the Licensing Unit for a licence. 

According to The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, a sex shop is any premises selling, hiring, lending, exchanging, demonstrating or displaying sex toys, books or R18 films to a significant degree. This includes vessels or stalls, as well as shops. 

There are currently no licensed sex shops in Adur and Worthing, although there are some unlicensed shops that do sell sex articles. It is an offence for unlicensed shops to sell R18 films. 

Sexual entertainment venues

The Policing and Crime Act came into effect on 6th April 2010. It enabled local authorities to adopt powers to require premises which provide sexual entertainment, such as lap dancing, to obtain a sex establishment licence. These measures have been adopted in Adur and Worthing. You can apply for a licence using the form below.

The Home Office have provided the following guidance regarding sexual entertainment venues:

Licence conditions

Initial sex establishment licences are granted for 12 months. Each licence issued by the Licensing Unit is subject to standard conditions, including regarding the appearance of the premises, business hours and how the business is advertised and promoted. Additional conditions may be imposed, depending on the location of the premises. 

No one under the age of 18 can be admitted to a licensed sex establishment premises, either as a customer or an employee. 

How to apply for a sex shop or sexual entertainment venue licence
Please complete a licence application form and return to us with the appropriate fee (see below). 

When applying for a sex establishment licence you must give public notice of the application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper within seven days of the application date, in a format agreed by the council. 

You must also clearly display a notice about your application on or near the premises for a period of 21 days, beginning on the date of the application. Any written objections to your application that state relevant grounds for objection and are received within 28 days of the site advertisement will be considered. 

We will also carry out a consultation process which will involve other parties, including:

  • Sussex Police
  • West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service
  • Adur & Worthing Councils' Environmental Health Department
  • Adur & Worthing Councils' Planning Department
  • Community Safety Department
  • local ward councillors
  • residents and businesses within 50 meters of the premise

How applications are considered

Each application is considered on its own merits, following the appropriate consultation. When considering an application we will consider the following:

  • the suitability of the applicant (ie any prior convictions, etc.)
  • the number of sex establishments already in the locality
  • if granting the licence would be appropriate with regard to the character of the locality, neighbouring premises or the layout, character or condition of the premises

Applicants will be invited to present their application at a hearing with the Licensing Authority committee. Any relevant objections from members of the public or other parties will also be considered. Having considered the case the committee will publish a written decision within five working days, although a verbal decision may be declared on the day.

The Licensing Authority does not have right to judge the morality of sex establishments, and any objections to an application on these grounds will not be considered. 

Application forms and fees

To apply for, renew or transfer a sex establishment licence please complete the relevant form below.

To find out how much a licence costs please see:

Sex establishment licence application forms:

Notice forms:

Renewal forms:

Transfer of licence forms:

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Page last updated: 17 August 2021

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