Sex Establishment Licence

Licence summary

To run a sex shop - i.e. any premises selling sex toys, books or videos - you may need a licence from Derry City Council.

To run a venue where 18R films are shown to members of the public, you also need a licence from the council.

However, you may apply to the local authority requesting them to waive the requirement of a licence.



Eligibility Criteria

An applicant:

  • must be at least 18 years old
  • must not be disqualified from holding a licence
  • must have been resident in an EEA state at least six months immediately before the application or, if a body corporate, must be incorporated in the EEA.
  • 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

An application may be refused if –

    • the applicant is unsuitable to hold the licence by reason of having been convicted of an offence or for any other reason;
    • the business to which the application relates would        be managed by, or carried on for the benefit of, a person, other than the applicant, who would be refused a licence if he made the application himself;
    •  the number of sex establishments in the relevant  locality at the time the application is made is equal to or exceeds the number (which may be nil) which the authority consider is appropriate for that locality;


(d)    it would be inappropriate to grant the application,           
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 concerned

Regulation Summary

Legislation on licensing sex establishment



Application Evaluation Process

Fees will be payable for applications. The fees charged by Derry City Council are currently

1. For the grant of a licence: £3,000 with a refund of £500 on refusal;
2. For the renewal of a licence: £1000 fee with £500 refunded on refusal; and
3. For the transfer of a licence: £375 fee.

Applications must contain any information the local authority requires, as well as the applicant's name, address and, where the applicant is an individual, their age, plus the address of the premises. Documentation that must be sent as part of the application is as follows:

Applicants resident in Northern Ireland must provide AccessNI Basic Disclosure Certificate – if you have a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure, that may be submitted instead if it less than 12 months old.  Information and application form is available at

Applicants from outside Northern Ireland should refer to the Guidance Notes and contact the Licensing Officer if they have difficulty in obtaining a criminal record disclosure.

Applicants must give public notice of their application by publishing an advertisement in two local newspapers and copies of these provided.

Applicants must also give public notice of their application by placing a notice on or near the premises to be used for a period of 21 days and the appropriate declaration signed and returned.

Download Standard forms for Public Notices


Will Tacit Consent Apply?


No.  It is in the public interest that Derry City Council must process your application before it can be granted.

Tacit consent does not apply to an application for a new sex establishment licence as local residents and the Police have a legitimate interest in the outcome of sex establishment applications. If an application is not processed within a defined period of time it will not be deemed granted. This is to minimise the risk of a licence for a sex establishment premises being approved inadvertently and subsequently resulting in crime and disorder, remove the protection of harm from children or cause an adverse cumulative impact in the vicinity of the proposed premises

The opportunity for the public to make representations in relation to the application means that it is not possible to predict with any accuracy the time period that the hearing of such representations may take to resolve. If you have not heard from the Council within a reasonable period, please contact us here

Apply online

Apply for a licence for a sex establishment

Forms to download, print and post

Application pack for Grant, renewal or transfer of Sex establishment Licence
Download Document 1
Download Document 2


Contact Details

Telephone: 028 71376516
Fax: 028 71368536
E-mail: [email protected]
Licensing Section
City Secretary and Solicitors Department
Derry City Council
98 Strand Road
BT48 7NN


Failed Application Redress

Please contact Derry City 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 the authority 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 Derry City Council in the first instance.

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