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Sex shop

This means any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall used for a business which consists to a significant degree of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating:

  • sex articles;
  • other things intended for use in connection with or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity.

The sale of R18 videos and DVDs requires a sex shop licence in all circumstances, including sale by mail order.

However, there are two exceptions:

  • the establishment is used only for the sale, supply or demonstration of articles primarily used for or related to birth control; or
  • the council has waived the requirement for a licence.

Licences for sex shop will be granted for up to one year.

Application process

To assist applicant in the application process please read these documents carefully.

If you don't have Word, you may download the pdf versions

To use this file, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have this on your computer, please use our advice page.


This authority is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers, and to this end may use the information you have provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.

Medway Council is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our Data Protection Notification made to the Information Commissioner and may use this information for any of them. We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do it we will only do so as the law permits, to check accuracy of information or prevent or detect crime. We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you as well as by others such as government departments and statutory agencies. We will not give information about you to anyone outside Medway Council unless the law permits us to do so.


Applicants must give public notice of the application by publishing an advertisement in a local newspaper that is circulated in the local authority area no later than seven days after the date the application is made. 

Applicants must display a notice of the application on or near the premises in a place where members of the public can conveniently read it. The notice should be displayed for a period of 21 days beginning with the date the application was made.

All notices should be in the form prescribed and identify the premises or, if the application relates to a vehicle, vessel or stall, specify where it will be used as a sex establishment.   


The Licensing Authority will not determine an application for the grant of a licence, unless, the applicant allows an authorised officer a reasonable opportunity to enter the proposed Sex Entertainment Venue to make such examination and enquiries as may be necessary to determine the suitability of the applicant and the premises.

Determining application

A licence can be refused if either, at the time the application is determined the number of sex establishments or sex establishments of a particular kind, in the relevant locality is equal to or exceeds the number that the authority considers appropriate for that locality; or that a sex establishment would be inappropriate having regard to:

  • the character of the relevant locality;
  • the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put; or
  • the layout, character or condition of the premises. 

In determining any application the Licensing Authority is aware of its ability to impose restrictions on the licence or to place conditions on the licence. Where such restrictions or conditions are applied, the Licensing Authority will ensure that they are necessary, reasonable and proportionate to achieve the objectives of any primary legislation, in particular the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and any subsequent, relevant legislation.


For more information contact Licensing Unit by telephone: Licensing Services - 01634 337107 or 337108 / Enforcement - 01634 337112 or 337106 or by email: licensing@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Licensing Unit, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR