How to apply for a hypnotism licence

Hypnotism licence conditions

These are the conditions for hypnotism, mesmerism or any similar act or process which produces or is intended to produce in any other person any form of induced sleep or trance in which the susceptibility of the mind of that person to suggestion or direction is increased or intended to be increased.


The Licensing Authority to be informed in writing 28 days in advance of the performance of:

  • The name (both real and stage, if different) and address of the person who will give the performance (hereafter referred to as the ‘hypnotist’), together with details of their last three performances (when and where)
  • A statement as to whether, and if so giving full details, the hypnotist has been previously refused or had withdrawn a consent by any licensing authority or been convicted of an offence under the Hypnotism Act 1952 or of an offence involving the breach of a condition regulating or prohibiting the giving of a performance of hypnotism on any person at any theatre or other place of public amusement or public entertainment

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No poster, advertisement or programme for the performance, which is likely to cause public offence, shall be displayed, sold or supplied, by or on behalf of the licence holder either at the premises or elsewhere.

Every poster, advertisement or programme for the performance, which is displayed, sold or supplied, must  include, clearly and legibly, the following statement: 

‘Volunteers, who must be aged 18 or over, can refuse at any point to continue taking part in the performance’.


The performance must be covered by a minimum of £5 million public liability insurance. The hypnotist must provide evidence of this to the local authority if requested and it must be available for inspection at the performance.

Physical arrangements

The means of access between the auditorium and the stage for the participants must be properly lit and free from obstruction.

A continuous white or yellow line shall be provided on the floor of any raised stage at a safe distance from the edge. This line must run parallel with the edge of the stage for its whole width. The hypnotist must inform all subjects that they must not cross the line whilst under hypnosis, unless specifically told to do so as part of the performance.

Treatment of the audience and subjects

Before starting the performance the hypnotist must make a statement to the audience, in a serious manner, identifying those groups of people who should not volunteer to participate in it. They should explain:

  • What volunteers might be asked to perform
  • Inform the audience of the possible risks from embarrassment or anxiety
  • Emphasising that subjects may cease to participate at any time they wish

The following is a suggested statement, which might be amended as necessary to suit individual styles as long as the overall message remains the same.

“I shall be looking for volunteers aged over 18 who are willing to be hypnotised and participate in the show. Anyone who comes forward should be prepared to take part in a range of entertaining hypnotic suggestions but can be assured that they will not be asked to do anything which is indecent, offensive or harmful. Volunteers need to be in normal physical and mental health and I must ask that no one volunteers if they have a history of mental illness, or are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or are pregnant”.

No form of coercion (that is using any type of force or threats)  can be used to persuade members of the audience to participate in the performance. In particular, hypnotists must not use selection techniques to identify and coerce out on stage the most suggestible members of the audience without their prior knowledge of what is intended.

Any use of such selection techniques (such as asking members of the audience to clasp their hands together and asking those who cannot free them again to come onto the stage) should only be used when the audience is fully aware of what is intended and that participation is entirely voluntary at every stage. If volunteers are to remain hypnotised during an interval in the performance, a reasonable number of attendants (as agreed with us as the Licensing Authority) should be in attendance throughout to ensure their safety.

Prohibited actions

The performance shall be conducted as not to cause offence to any person in the audience or any hypnotised subject.

The performance shall be so conducted as not likely to cause harm, anxiety or distress to any person in the audience or any hypnotised subject. In particular, the performance shall not include:

  • Any suggestion involving the age regression of a subject (that is asking the subject to revert to an earlier age in their life) this does not prohibit the hypnotist from asking subjects to act as if they were a child
  • Any suggestion that the subject has lost something (for example a body part), which, if it really occurred, could cause considerable distress
  • Any demonstration in which the subject is suspended between supports (so called ‘catalepsy’)
  • The consumption of any harmful or noxious substance
  • Any demonstration of the power of hypnosis to block pain, for example, pushing a needle through the skin

The performance shall not include giving hypnotherapy or any other form of treatment.


All hypnotised subjects shall remain in the presence of the hypnotist and in the room or place in which the performance takes place until all hypnotic suggestions have been removed.

All hypnotic or post-hypnotic suggestions shall be completely removed from the minds of the subjects and the audience before the performance ends. All hypnotised subjects shall have the suggestions removed both individually and collectively and the hypnotist confirm with each of them that they feel well and relaxed (the restriction on post-hypnotic suggestions does not prevent the hypnotist from telling subjects that they will feel well and relaxed after the suggestions are removed).

The hypnotist must remain available for at least 30 minutes after the show to help in dealing with any problems which might arise. (Such help might take the form of reassurance in the event of headaches or giddiness, but this condition does not imply that the hypnotist is an inappropriate person to treat anyone who is otherwise unwell).

Authorised access

Where a police office or an authorised officer of the Licensing Authority has reason to believe that a performance is being or is about to be given, they may enter the venue with a view to seeing whether the conditions on which approval for the performance was granted are being complied with.

Last updated: ‎14‎/‎05‎/‎2024‎ ‎11‎:‎57‎