Northampton Borough Council
Northampton Borough Council

Sex shop licence

This information complies with the new EU Services Directive that came into effect on 28 December 2009. This new directive aims to make it easier for businesses to set up or offer their services anywhere in the EU and apply and pay on-line for a licence. The directive covers a wide variety businesses including accountants, builders, food services, and leisure services.

Other services such as education, health, transport, planning, gambling, taxis and social services do not fall within the scope of the directive.

If you wish to download a postal application then click on the link postal applications and send your application to Licensing, The Guildhall, St Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE. If you have any queries please contact licensing@northampton.gov.uk.

Licence summary

To run a sex shop - ie any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from Northampton Borough Council. To run a venue where explicit films are shown to members of the public, you also need a licence from Northampton Borough Council.  This is for 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.

However, you may apply to Northampton Borough Council requesting them to waive the requirement of a licence.

Anybody 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.  Penalties upon conviction can range from £1,000 to £20,000.

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 at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, 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
Regulation Summary

Application Evaluation Process

Fees will be payable for applications and conditions may be attached.  The fee for a sex shop licence is currently £3,000.

Applications must be in writing (including by electronic means) and contain any information that Northampton Borough Council requires, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises.

Postal applications should be sent to The Licensing Department, Northampton Borough Council, The Guildhall, St Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE.

Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper.

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No.  It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted.  If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact Northampton Borough Council.

An application period of 28 calendar days is required.

Apply online

Apply for a licence for a sex establishment

Tell us about a change to your existing sex establishment licence

Failed Application Redress

Please contact Northampton Borough Council in the first instance.

Any applicant who is refused a licence, or refused the renewal of a licence, may, within 21 days of being notified of the refusal, appeal to the local magistrates' court.

However, the right to appeal does not apply where the licence was refused on the grounds that:

  • the number of sex establishments in the area exceeds the number which Northampton Borough Council 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
Licence Holder Redress

Please contact Northampton Borough Council in the first instance.

A licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to a local magistrates' court. In Scotland licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition can appeal to the local sheriff.

Consumer Complaint

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

Licence holders may at any time apply to the authority for a variation of the terms, conditions or restrictions in their licence.

If an application for a variation is refused, or if the licence is revoked, the licence holder may, within 21 days of being notified of the imposition of, or the refusal to vary, the term, condition or restriction in question, or of the revocation, appeal to the local magistrates' court.

A licence holder may also appeal to the crown court against a decision of a magistrates' court.

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.

Trade Associations

None