Wait, that’s illegal?

No licenses for fortune tellers in Virginia predict spooky consequences

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

I see something in the future, something hazy and uncertain. In this spooky season, a lot of supernatural stuff seems to come out of the woodwork. Just yesterday I thought my house was haunted, no joke! I guess finally seeing one of my elusive neighbors doesn’t quite count as a paranormal experience though.

One paranormal experience that people love this time of year involves the casting of spells and the telling of events yet to come. Fortune Telling. But, I’ll have you know, in the state of Virginia not everyone can set up shop as a fortune teller. You need to have a license to make money off of your clairvoyant abilities.

According to the Code of Virginia, Title 58.1, Subtitle III, Chapter 37 Subsection 58.1-3726, “For the purpose of license taxation pursuant to § 58.1-3703, any person who, for compensation, shall pretend to tell fortunes, assume to act as a clairvoyant, or to practice palmistry or phrenology shall be deemed a fortune-teller. No license tax on fortune-tellers imposed pursuant to this chapter shall exceed $1,000 per year.”

That’s right folks. You need a license to practice fortune telling in the state of Virginia. Now, I think it’s important to mention that this license law is mainly for tax purposes. If you’re going to be making some serious cash money on telling the future, you definitely need a license to do so. I’m not recommending breaking the law though — please don’t do that, people.

Now, I revel in the spookiness of this season as much as the next college student, probably less actually. I don’t like scary movies and I’m ambivalent about candy corn, but the one Halloween focus that I will not mess with is the supernatural. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, but I do not want to mess with ghosts. Nope, not for me.

If one does end up in the state of Virginia — you know as you do — and decide to practice fortune telling, I would highly recommend getting a license to do so. If not, the penalty is clearly laid out in the law.

“The governing body of any county, city or town may provide that any person who engages in business as a fortune-teller without the license required shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.”

Unfortunately, tough regulations as to which businesses can have access to a business license. There are counties in Virginia that make it difficult for a person who performs palm readings or astrology, both listed under the label of fortune telling, to obtain a business license. This results in people who can’t obtain a business license getting slapped with a fine or even jail time! For a Class Three misdemeanor, you could be fined up to $1,000 and/or given a jail sentence up to three months.

While I prefer not to partake in the spooky supernatural stuff, I think it’s important for people to make a livelihood doing what they enjoy. So before you decide to start messing around with the supernatural, remember that the future might not be the scariest thing you encounter. Without the proper licensing, unknowing people might just be haunted with a hefty fine.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected]