PO Box 10, Oxford, OX1 1EN
Tel 01865 249811
Licences for sex shops are required where 18R films are sold, or where there is a 'significant degree' of 'sex articles' for sale. The phrase 'sex articles' is defined in the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 as:
(a) anything made for use in connection with, or for the purpose of
stimulating or encouraging:
(i) sexual activity; or
(ii) acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity; and
(b) any article containing or embodying matter to be read or looked at or anything intended to be used, either alone or as one of a set, for the reproduction or manufacture of any such article; and
(c) to any recording of vision or sound, which:
(i) is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deals with or relates to, or is intended to stimulate or encourage, sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity; or
(ii) is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deals with or
relates to, genital organs, or urinary or excretory functions.
The phrase 'a significant degree' is not defined. When considering whether or not a business is selling a significant degree of sex articles and needs a licence, we will consider:
(1) the ratio of sex articles to other aspects of the business
(2) the absolute quantity of sales
(3) the character of the remainder of the business
(4) the nature of the displays in the business
(5) turnover generated by sales of sex articles
(6) the format of any literature, publicity or advertising materials
(7) other factors which appear to be materially relevant.
There are some specific grounds for refusing sex establishment licences set out in paragraph 12 of schedule 3 to the 1982 Act. These include where the applicant is unsuitable to hold a licence, due to their age, domiciliary status or previous criminal convictions.
We can also refuse applications for new or renewed licences where the grant or renewal of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard to:
(i) the character of the relevant locality, or
(ii) the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put, or
(iii) to the layout, character or condition of the premises.
In considering the characteristics of a locality we shall particularly take account of the density and proximity of:
(i) Historic buildings or tourist attractions
(ii) Schools, play areas, nurseries, children's centres or similar premises
(iii) Shopping complexes
(iv) Residential areas
(v) Places of Worship
We will, unless there are exceptional reasons otherwise, grant any licences for the maximum duration of a year at a time to provide certainty to those operating businesses.
We have a standard application form, including public notices, which are available on request from our licensing team.
How to apply (160kB PDF)
Sex Establishment Licence Fees (32kB PDF)
Sex Establishment Licence Application Form (102kB PDF)
Site Advertisement Notice (9kB PDF)
Certificate for Site Advertisement Notice (9kB PDF)
Newspaper Advertisement Notice (9kB PDF)
Certificate for Newspaper Advertisement Notice (9kB PDF)
Full Sex Establishment Licence Application Pack (116kB PDF)
We have adopted standard conditions for the operation of sex shops. Where it is reasonable and necessary to do so, our Licensing and Registrations Sub-Committee will impose additional proportional conditions on a licence. Wherever possible, these will be discussed in advance with operators by our licensing officers.
Sex Establishments Standard Conditions (82kB PDF)
Our fees are set each year. The current annual fee for a Sex Shop Licence is £8520.00. The fee to transfer or vary a licence is £1170.00.
Should you require any further advice, you can contact the Licensing Team either in writing, by telephone or by email:
Licensing Team, Oxford City Council, St Aldate's Chambers, 109 St Aldate's, Oxford, OX1 1DS.
Telephone: 01865 252565
Page last updated 30 March 2015
St Aldate's Chambers
109 St Aldate's