Apply for a sex work service provider's licence

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How to apply

A person who holds a licence to be a sex work service provider is known as a licensee. To apply to become a licensee, each individual or partner in a partnership must complete and lodge two forms:

Your application must specify whether you are applying for a sex work service provider's licence to operate:

  • a brothel
  • an escort agency
  • both.

You must lodge the following supporting financial and business documents with your application:

  • details of your assets and liabilities
  • a business plan
  • a cash flow forecast for the first 12 months of the business
  • a copy of the contract to purchase the business, if you are buying an existing business
  • a copy of the lease, or agreement to transfer the lease to you, if you will rent your business premises.

You should contact the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) to ensure you have prepared a complete application and included the required supporting documents. Email using the BLA enquiry form or call 1300 135 452. Calling this number costs the same as a local call. Additional charges may apply if you are calling from overseas, on a mobile or payphone.

You must pay the relevant application and licence fee before your application can be processed.

Please note: licence application fees will reduce to 50% of their current level on 1 July 2022, and to 25% of their current level on 1 July 2023. Additionally, licence fees will be waived if they become due on or after 1 July 2022. 

For more information, view Fees and forms.

Business partners

If you propose to operate a brothel or escort agency in partnership with, or otherwise in association with, any other person(s), each person must be individually licensed and pay any relevant fees.

Significant penalties and imprisonment may apply for carrying on business as a sex work service provider with an unlicensed partner.

When a licence is required

You must be licensed by the BLA if:

  • you propose to operate as a sex work service provider in Victoria
  • have a relevant financial interest in a sex work service provider’s business
  • are based outside Victoria but wish to conduct a sex work service provider business in this state.

The fine for unlicensed trading is a maximum 1,200 penalty units or imprisonment for five years, or both. For more information, view Penalties.

Before you apply for your licence, you should:

  • asses your eligibility and suitability
  • seek independent legal advice if you are uncertain whether you need a licence.

Exemptions

A licence is compulsory unless you are an exempt sex work service provider, either:

  • running a small owner-operated business, or
  • working as a sex worker with another person’s small owner-operated business.

You do not have to register for an exemption to operate as a small owner-operator.

For more information, view Small owner-operators.

Eligibility

Only people (not companies) can apply for a sex work service provider's licence. To apply, you must:

  • be at least 18
  • be a suitable person (see below)
  • not 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 it was committed. It must not be a spent conviction within the meaning of the Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) or any equivalent law of a state or territory of Australia or of the Commonwealth. For more information, view the Spent convictions page
  • not have had a sex work service provider's licence granted or cancelled in the last five years
  • not be an associate of an individual or body corporate that has been convicted or found guilty of an indictable offence in the last five years which renders the grant of a licence against the public interest, having regard to the nature of the offence and the date on which the offence was committed. It must not be a spent conviction within the meaning of the Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) or any equivalent law of a state or territory of Australia or of the Commonwealth. For more information, view the Spent convictions page
  • not be an associate of a body corporate a director or secretary of which has been convicted or found guilty of an indictable offence in the last five years which renders the grant of a licence against the public interest, having regard to the nature of the offence and the date on which the offence was committed. It must not be a spent conviction within the meaning of the Spent Convictions Act 2021 (Vic) or any equivalent law of a state or territory of Australia or of the Commonwealth. For more information, view the Spent convictions page
  • not be an insolvent under administration
  • not be a represented person under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986.

Records checks

You must submit a consent form and certified copies of the required identity documents as part of your application. For more information, view Records checks.

The correct documents, properly certified, will help your application avoid delays.

The BLA will conduct checks with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and other agencies to verify your eligibility to hold a licence. Any disputes about the accuracy of the results of the checks will be referred to the ACIC. Visit ACIC.

Operating a licensed sex work business: Guide for licensees and approved managers

We have published this guide (online only) for licensees and approved managers of brothels and escort agencies to help you understand how the sex work industry is regulated, and comply with your legal obligations.

  • Operating a licensed sex work business - Guide for licensees and approved managers (Word, 294KB)

Repeal of the licensing system 

The sex work licensing system will be repealed in December 2023, after which sex work service providers will no longer be required to be licensed.  

More information is available at Decriminalising sex work in Victoria