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Cardiff Council

Sex establishment licence

​​​​​​​​​​​​A sex establishment licence is required to operate a sex shop, sex cinema or sexual entertainment venue.

It is our role as a licensing authority to administer the licensing regime in accordance with the law.

We have adopted schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (as amended by section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009). Section 27 of the Policing and Crime Act​​​​​​​​​ introduced a new category of sex establishment known as a ‘sexual entertainment venue’.

Under this legislation a sexual entertainment venue is defined as “any premises at which 'relevant entertainment' is provided before a live audience for the financial gain of the organiser or the entertainer.” ‘Relevant entertainment’ is commonly understood to include lap dancing, pole dancing, table dancing, strip show, peep shows and live sex shows.

This list is not exhaustive and the exact nature of these descriptions may vary. For further information please see the Home Office Guidance (165kb PDF)​​​​​​​​​.

A sex shop means any premises used for a business which consists of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating sex articles or other things intended for use in connection with sexual activity.​

A sex cinema is defined as any premises used for the exhibition of moving pictures, which are concerned primarily with the portrayal of sexual activity.

How to apply

Before applying we recommend reading our sex establishment conditions and our sex establishment licensing policy (109kb PDF)​​​​​​​​​​​​

Apply online:​

Apply by post:


Please complete the application form and return to us by post or in person:

Cardiff Council,
County Hall,
Atlantic Wharf,
CF10 4UW​


You will need to advertise your application both on or near the premises and in a newspaper circulating within the area of the premises.

The notice on the premises must be displayed for a period of 21 days from the date the application was submitted. The notice in the newspaper must be published no later than 7 days after the date of application.


General licence fees and c​harges​​​​​​​​.​

We accept the following methods of payment:

  • Debit card (by phone - 0300 123 6696)
  • Cheque (made payable to ‘Cardiff Council’)
You can also pay via BACS:

​Sort code: 52-21-06
Account number: 20408838​
Address: Natwest, 96 Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2GR


The Licensing Section will consult with the Police, Fire Service, the planning authority, children's services, local business representatives and local ward councillors. The consultation period is 28 days starting from the date of receipt of the application.


Applications for the grant, renewal or transfer of a sex establishment will be determined by the Public Protection Committee. The determination of applications for the renewal of a licence will be delegated to officers, unless relevant representations are received and the matter will then be referred to the Public Protection Committee.


An application for a licence will generally be refused on the grounds which are contained within the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982​​​​.


A licence may also be refused if the Council considers:

  • the applicant is under 18 years of age
  • the applicant has had a licence revoked in the last year
  • the applicant has not been resident in the UK for the previous six months
  • the applicant is a company, which is not incorporated in the UK
  • the applicant has had an application for the premises refused in the previous twelve months.

A licence may also be refused if the Council considers:

  • the applicant is unsuitable to hold the licence by reason of having been convicted of an offence or for any other reason
  • the business would be managed by or carried on for the benefit of a person, other than the applicant, who would be refused the licence if he made the application himself.
  • the number of sex establishments in the relevant locality is equal to or exceeds the number, which the Committee considers is appropriate for the locality. 
  • the grant of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard to the: - (i) character of the relevant locality; or (ii) use to which any premises in the vicinity are put; or (iii) layout, character, or condition of the premises.


Sex establishment licences are granted for a year and renewed annually.

If you would like any help or advice please contact us.

Contact us

Shared Regulatory Services tel: 0300 123 6696 (follow the options for Cardiff Licensing).

Phone lines are open between 10am and 3pm Monday to Friday.

© 2022 Cardiff Council