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You must not trade as a sex work service provider until your application is approved, or significant penalties and imprisonment may apply.
When your application is lodged and you have paid the applicable fees, you will receive an acknowledgement letter and a receipt.
The Business Licensing Authority (BLA) aims to process your application in a timely manner. To avoid delays, please complete the form correctly and attach all necessary documents.
Changing your application information
If the information you provide changes after you lodge it, you must advise the BLA in writing, within 10 days of becoming aware of the change.
Withdrawing your application
You can withdraw your application in writing before the BLA reaches a decision. Some fees may be refunded to you.
Providing additional information
You must provide the BLA with any further information they require within a reasonable time, or they may refuse your application.
The BLA manages your personal information in accordance with the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) in the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and the confidentiality rules in the Business Licensing Authority Act 1998.
The BLA understands the sensitivities surrounding personal information in the sex work industry and is very careful to respect privacy and confidentiality.
You can request access to your personal information by contacting us. Subject to the requirements of the Sex Work Act 1994, in exceptional circumstances you may apply to have public access to your personal information restricted.
For more information, view our Information and privacy – Business Licensing Authority page.
The BLA considers whether applicants meet specific eligibility criteria and are suitable. They assess suitability by considering whether you:
- and your associates are of good repute with regard to character, honesty and integrity
- can obtain adequate financial resources to ensure the financial viability of the business
- have sufficient business ability to establish and maintain a successful business
- can provide safety measures for persons working in the business that are adequate and comply with prescribed requirements or restrictions of the licence
- have a proposed business structure which is sufficiently transparent to enable any associates, both individuals and bodies corporate, to be readily identifiable.
If you have been a sex worker, you can still apply to operate as a sex work service provider.
Criminal history record checks
Criminal history record checks are an integral part of the assessment of your eligibility or suitability. As part of your application, you are asked to disclose whether you are the subject of any criminal charges still pending before a court, or whether you have been the subject of any criminal convictions or findings of guilt before a court.
The BLA forwards your details to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian police services or other law enforcement agencies, and you are asked to consent to these agencies:
- disclosing criminal history information from their own records to the BLA
- accessing the records of other law enforcement agencies, and obtaining criminal history information that in turn will be disclosed to the BLA.
ACIC will not disclose old conviction information relating to pardoned, quashed or spent convictions. For more information, visit the ACIC website.
Spent convictions schemes
Spent convictions schemes apply to convictions or findings of guilt for offences under Commonwealth laws and the laws of some states and territories.
Generally, a 'spent conviction' under these schemes is a conviction or finding of guilt for a Commonwealth, territory, state or foreign offence where it is 10 years or more since the date of that conviction or finding of guilt (or five years for juvenile offenders) and the offender was not sentenced to imprisonment for more than 30 months (or six months in some states) and has not re-offended during that period.
Under these schemes a person with a spent conviction is not required to disclose that conviction or finding of guilt to any authority within the jurisdiction to which the scheme applies, and those authorities are prohibited from disclosing information about a spent conviction without the consent of the person concerned.
For more information, view the Spent convictions page.
Public notice of applications
Until your application is determined, the BLA must make a copy of section 1 of your application available for public inspection. The remainder of the application form, including the declaration of personal finances form, will not be made available to the public.
The BLA must also give notice of an application for a licence to the local council and place a notice in a prominent Victorian newspaper.
Referral of applications
The BLA also provides details of your application to the:
- Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police
- Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria.
The Chief Commissioner must make any inquiries they consider appropriate and, after receiving the results of the inquiries, must report to the BLA. The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria may report to the BLA on any matter they consider relevant to the application.
The BLA may also:
- conduct any other enquiries
- seek advice and information on the application from any other source.
Interview and examination
Applicants must attend an interview and open-book examination on the:
You may bring a copy of the Act and Regulations to the exam. The BLA can provide interpreters for the interview and exam if you advise the BLA’s staff beforehand.
Photo identity card
The BLA issues a photo identity card to all licensed sex work service providers and approved managers. You must carry this card at all times while working at the brothel.
You must provide the BLA with two recent colour passport photos and certified proof of identification with your application, to enable them to produce your identity card.
Conditions on a licence
The BLA can impose conditions or restrictions on a licence. These can be imposed at the beginning of the licence or at any time while the licence is current.
In deciding whether to impose a condition or restriction, the BLA can take into account any request or suggestion made by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria or by the Chief Commissioner of Police. The type of conditions that might be imposed depend on the circumstances of the licensee and their associates, and the nature of the sex work service provider business the licensee intends to operate.
However, certain conditions are regularly imposed by the BLA. If you are applying to run a brothel, the BLA will always impose a condition tying the licence to specified premises. If you want to move from the premises specified on the licence, you will have to apply to the BLA to vary the condition.
The BLA will usually apply a similar condition if you wish to operate an escort agency business (that is, there will be a condition on the licence specifying that the escort agency is to run from the specified premises). If you want to operate both a brothel and an escort agency, it is usually the case that you run them from the same premises.
If you have not obtained planning permission by the time the BLA is ready to make a decision, the BLA can choose to issue a licence subject to planning permission being granted. You don’t have to wait for a sex work service provider licence application to be decided before applying to the local council for planning permission.
In light of its obligation to consider the financial viability of a brothel or escort agency, the BLA often requires licensees to provide specified financial information annually.
You can apply to the BLA to have your licence conditions varied or revoked.
Refusal of application
The BLA must refuse to grant a licence if you:
- are not a suitable person
- have been found guilty or convicted of an indictable offence that would make granting you a licence against the public interest having regard to the nature of the offence and when the offence was committed
- have had a sex work service provider's licence granted or cancelled in the last five years
- are an associate of an individual, company, company director or company secretary convicted or found guilty of an indictable offence in the last five years that would make granting you a licence against the public interest having regard to the nature of the offence and when the offence was committed
- are an insolvent under administration
- are a represented person under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986.
If the BLA refuses to grant you a licence, or imposes conditions you are unhappy with, you can apply for a review of the decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). You have 28 days to do so, from the date the BLA makes a decision.
Length of time a licence is valid
Your licence will be ongoing unless suspended, cancelled or surrendered.
The sex work licensing system will be repealed in December 2023. After this time sex work service providers will no longer be required to be licensed. More information is available at Decriminalising sex work in Victoria.
What you can and cannot do with your licence
- share your licence with another person. You are the only person authorised to use it. It is an offence for a licensee to operate a brothel in partnership (or otherwise in association with) someone who is not licensed
- transfer your licence to another person for any reason
- sell your brothel to another person, unless they are licensed. If they do not have their own licence, they must apply to the BLA for one. Anyone operating a brothel without a licence risks a substantial fine or imprisonment.
- take on a business partner for your brothel or escort agency, but they must also be licensed
- have other businesses interests.