- What are the licensing requirements for a Private Investigator?
The general requirements for a Private Investigator are:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Three years of compensated experience totaling not less than 6,000
hours in investigative work, while employed by law enforcement agencies,
collection agencies, insurance agencies, banks, courts, and other private
investigation agencies, etc.
- A college degree in criminal law, criminal justice or police science
can be substituted for part of the experience.
- Pass a written exam.
- Undergo a criminal history review.
- When does a Private Investigator license become delinquent?
The Private Investigator license becomes delinquent 30
days after expiration.
- How long after the expiration of my license am I able to renew it?
If after three years you fail to renew a delinquent
license, you must submit a new application and begin the application process again.
- How do I change my business name?
To change your business name, you must submit a written
request to the Bureau. Submit at least six names for consideration.
Note: If you are requesting your existing business name
change to another business name other than your personal name, please send a change of
business name fee in the amount of $25 with your request.
- Can a Private Investigator use a post office box for an address?
Yes. A Private Investigator may list a post office box
only if mail delivery to the business address is not possible, or if the principal
place of business is located at the licensee's personal residence. This request must
be explained in writing. Otherwise, the company must state address by street, number
and city. In addition, no licensee shall conduct business from any location other than
the location for which a license or branch office registration was issued.
- How long does it take to process a new license following a request for a change of
name, address or branch office?
Approximately four to six weeks.
- There has been a change in the type of ownership/entity after receiving the
Private Investigator license. What do I have to do?
Licenses cannot be transferred or reassigned to new
entities. A change of ownership constitutes a new entity. You must submit a new
application with appropriate fees. For example, if you apply and become licensed as
a sole owner and later decide to form a partnership or corporation, you must apply for
a new license. Partners can be added to a partnership license without obtaining a new
- Can a Private Investigator carry a concealed weapon?
Yes. A Private Investigator may carry a concealed weapon
on duty if he/she also has BSIS exposed firearms permit, and possesses a concealed
weapons permit issued by local law enforcement or:
- Is a retired peace officer with an endorsement to carry a concealed weapon or
- Is an active duty peace officer
- Must Private Investigators who have concealed weapon permits, also have the
Bureau's exposed weapons permit while on duty?
Yes. Even though a Private Investigator may possess a
concealed weapons permit, he/she must also complete Bureau-approved firearms training
course and obtain the Bureau's exposed firearms permit prior to carrying and using
- Can a Private Investigator act as a bodyguard?
A Private Investigator may protect individuals. However,
he/she may only do so in connection with a case that he/she has been previously hired
- Must a Private Investigator carry liability insurance?
Private Investigators are only required to carry
insurance if carrying a firearm. Investigators must maintain a minimum of $500,000
liability insurance for loss due to bodily injury or death and $500,000 for one loss
due to injury or destruction of property.
- Can a Private Investigator "ambulance chase"?
No. Private Investigators are prohibited from soliciting
business from anyone who has sustained a bodily injury as a result of an accident or
from soliciting business from a family member of anyone who has sustained a bodily
injury or death. However, they may solicit business from persons having an indirect
interest in the injury, such as the injured person's attorney, insurance company or
- A Private Investigator has been hired to conduct an investigation. Who must he/she
divulge information to?
A Private Investigator may not release information
acquired during an investigation to anyone other than his or her client, unless
otherwise instructed by the client. However, if there are any criminal offenses,
information may be released to local law enforcement or the district attorney.
- Can a Private Investigator do anything that a police officer can do?
No. A Private Investigator has no law enforcement
authority even if he/she has been hired by law enforcement to perform an
investigation. A Private Investigator is an ordinary citizen and can only make
- Can an unlicensed person who is working for a licensed private investigator make
or distribute business cards?
No. An unlicensed person may not use any form of
identification which gives the impression that he/she may be licensed.
- What type of information must appear on business cards and other forms of
The name, addresses, and license number of the licensee
as they appear in the Bureau's records.
- Can an applicant who has been denied a license or a licensee who has been served
an accusation to revoke a license go before the Disciplinary Review Committee (DRC)?
No. He/she must make an appeal before an administrative
law judge during an administrative hearing. Appeals may be made before DRC only with
respect to firearms permits if there are allegations of firearms violations.
- How do I prove my investigative experience?
The claimed years of qualifying experience must be
substantiated by a written certification from the employer, subject to verification by
Bureau staff. Only an employer or his or her designated agent may certify this
- What if my employer (or certifier) is unwilling to certify my experience?
An employer who is a licensee shall respond in writing
within 30 days to an applicant's written request for certification of the applicant's
work experience and either provide the certification or the reason for denial. If the
applicant is unable to obtain a written response or reason for denial and the
applicant states under penalty of perjury that the employer (licensee's) reasons for
denial are invalid or insufficient, the director may require that the employer
(licensee) provide the Bureau with all relevant employment records maintained
regarding the applicant. The Bureau will use these records to substantiate the
applicant's employment experience.
- Can an employee of a Private Investigator bill clients?
No. A licensee is solely responsible for the conduct of
his or her business and may not allow anyone to independently advertise, engage
clients, and furnish reports or bill clients. All business is under the control of the
licensee and must be conducted under the name of the licensee.
- Must a Private Investigator's findings be submitted to the client in writing?
Investigative reports must be submitted in a manner
agreed upon by the investigator and the client. If there is no agreement, oral reports
are as acceptable as written reports. Investigative reports must be submitted
to the client upon demand if payment has been rendered. Private investigators
must make every effort to ascertain that the information acquired is factual and
correct. While the Bureau has no jurisdiction over fees, licensees must provide
clients with a fee schedule or reasonable explanation of how charges are calculated
should the client question the licensee's billing.
- Can a Private Investigator represent themself as government officials?
No. Private Investigators may not present themselves as
anyone other than a Private Investigator. The law prohibits the use of any title,
uniform, insignia, identification card or any statement which gives the impression
that they are connected with any federal or state agency.
- Can a Private Investigator enter property without an owner's consent?
No. A Private Investigator may not enter any private
building without owner's consent.
- Can a Private Investigator use a badge?
No. A Private Investigator may not carry or wear a badge
in connection with an investigation since it may mislead others to believe that he or
she is a peace officer or other government official.
- Once a license is obtained, can the licensee conduct business at a location other
than what appears in the Bureau's records?
No. A licensee may only conduct business at the location
shown in the Bureau's records unless he or she obtains a branch office certificate.
- How do I notify the Bureau of my change of address?
You must notify the Bureau in writing within 30 days of
such change. Be sure that you include your license number, name, previous address, the
new address, date of birth and Social Security number. Please print information.
- I received a 1203.4 dismissal on my conviction. Do I still need to report the
conviction on my application?
Yes. You must report the conviction.
- How Do I obtain a Private Investigator photo identification?
Private Investigators must contact PSI at (877)
392-6422. PSI staff will schedule appointments for photos
at one of their California centers. The photo identification
card costs $6 and is paid to PSI.