Sex Shop Licence
West Lothian Council operates a Sex Shop licensing scheme which is administered by the Council's Licensing Team.
The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) continues to have a significant impact on the processing of licence applications.
If you need to get in touch with the Licensing Team, please do so by email to the following address: email@example.com
Email enquiries will be prioritised and responded to on a priority/urgent basis. We cannot accept phone calls at present.
In the meantime, applications for licences and permits (with the exception of hire car applications, please refer to the hire car webpages for details of how to make these) should be posted to the
West Lothian Council,
along with cheques or postal orders for payment of any fee required and copies of all required supporting documentation.
If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email.
Please be aware that there will likely be delays in the processing of applications due to changes in working conditions at present.
If you are an event organiser you should note that when possible applicants will be able to email amended applications for events which have been postponed due to Covid-19 as long as the details of the event remain exactly the same and only the event date is changing, any other changes to event details will require a new application to be submitted in the usual manner.
The Team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence. A sex shop licence is needed for any premises or other venue that sell a significant degree of sex articles such as sex toys, books or videos. This council has a policy that the appropriate number of sex shops in West Lothian is none.
Do I need a Licence?
Yes, if you wish to use a premises, vehicle, stall or vessel in West Lothian for a business which consists to a significant degree of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending, displaying or demonstrating "sex articles". R18 rated video recordings can only be sold at licensed Sex Shops.
A Sex Shop licence is not required merely for the exhibition of moving images, such as film or video. A Cinema licence may be required.
A "sex articles" means anything intended for use in connection with, or for the purpose of stimulating or encouraging:
- sexual activity
- acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity
- any reading/visual or audio material which 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
- is concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deals with or relates to, genital organs, or urinary or excretory functions
The definition does not include any articles which are manufactured for use primarily for the purposes of birth control or which primarily relate to birth control.
Anyone can apply for a sex shop licence. However, by statute the Council is not allowed to grant a licence to a person:
- Under the age of 18
- Who is for the time being disqualified due to revocation of a sex shop licence by the Council or by order of a court
- Other than a natural person if any director of it or partner in it or any other person responsible for its management is disqualified
- Who has been convicted of certain criminal offence or offences detailed in Paragraphs 19 to 21 of Schedule 2 of the Civic Government ( Scotland ) Act 1982
- Who is not resident in the United Kingdom or was not so resident throughout the period of six months immediately preceding the date when the application was made
- A body corporate which is not incorporated in the United Kingdom
- Who has, within the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date when the application was made, been refused by the same council the grant or renewal of a sex shop licence for the premises, vehicle, vessel or stall in respect of which the application is made, unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal
- Other than a natural person if any director of it or partner in it or any other person responsible for its management has, within that period, been refused by the same Council the grant or renewal of such a licence, unless the refusal has been reversed on appeal.
If you want to apply for a sex shop licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee, details of these can be found in the guidance notes attached to the application.
All applications are copied to the Council's advisors who can recommend that conditions are attached to the licence when granted. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and details of all applicants will be retained on computer. You will be contacted once vetting is complete.
The council has a policy that the appropriate number of sex shops in West Lothian is none. Applications can still be made despite that policy. In view of the policy all applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination. The Committee meets on a monthly basis.
Complaints regarding licence holders may be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter providing full details of the nature of the complaint and sent to the Licensing Team using the contact details box.
Complaints regarding unlicensed Sex Shop should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.
More information regarding
Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them are available from the downloads section of this page.