Security Licensing Compliance Guide

Private Investigation Licensing Compliance

Individual Private Investigator Licensing

Learn what it takes to become licensed to practice private investigation in any state, including education, experience, and other qualifications.

Getting Licensed

More than 40 states and the District of Columbia require private investigators (PIs) to become licensed before providing private investigation services to the public. In a handful of states, licenses are required only at the city or county level. Licenses for PIs are regulated through a mix of professional boards, state police departments, and other state agencies. While there is no central designation for the profession, the requirements generally include:

  • Minimum age ranging from 18 to 25
  • Associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field
  • Bonding requirements
  • Proof of relevant experience
  • Background checks and information
  • Fingerprints and photo
  • Passage of an exam and continuing education where required

Candidates who meet the requirements may apply for licensure through the appropriate agency. Consult our comprehensive state-by-state guide to find the specific requirements and application process in your state, located to your right.

Considerations for Firearms and Other Weapons

In states that license PIs, weapon regulations vary widely. Many states charge a higher license fee for armed investigators. In many cases, PIs are subject to the same weapon requirements as other state residents, while others grant special carry rights to licensed investigators. A few states actually impose extra restrictions on private investigators.

License Application Fees

Application fees for private investigators cover a very broad range from as low as $15 in Maryland to $1,450 in Connecticut. In addition, most states include bond requirements, with the most common individual bond requirement being $10,000.

Reciprocal Licensing

A few states have reciprocal licensing agreements that allow currently licensed private investigators to work in the state. Most states allow investigators to work across state lines for a limited period of time, generally less than a month. In these cases, the investigation must be initiated in the investigator's home state. The investigator is prohibited from soliciting business while in another state and from establishing a business or setting up residence while conducting an investigation in that state.

License Renewal Requirements

Most individual private investigator licenses must be renewed periodically, usually every one to two years. State fees also vary, from as low as $10 in Maryland to $500 in Nevada.

Keeping up with state licensing requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties. With proactive license management from Harbor Compliance, you can ensure continuous compliance wherever your next lead takes you. Contact a Compliance Specialist today to help your private investigations firm navigate licensure and certification in your state.

Alabama

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Alabama Private Investigation Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 application fee, $37 fee to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, and $300 license fee.

Form:

Application with Instructions and Checklist

License Renewal

Fee:

$300

Due:

Licenses expire two years from the date of issuance.

Alaska

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Alaska does not currently license private investigators at the state level, however, the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks do issue licenses.

Arizona

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Arizona Department of Public Safety

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$72

Form:

Renewal Application

Due:

Individual licenses expire on the same day as the firm license.

Arkansas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Arkansas State Police

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$185

Form:

Renewal Credentialed Private Investigator

Due:

Licenses expire two years from the date of issuance.

California

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

Initial Application

Fee:

$50 application fee + $175 license fee + $49 for fingerprinting.

Form:

Private Investigator and Qualified Manager License Application Packet

License Renewal

Fee:

$125

Form:

Renewal Application for Private Investigator License

Due:

Licenses expire two years from the date of issuance.

Colorado

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Colorado Office of Private Investigator Licensure

Initial Application

Fee:

$330

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$63

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by May 31.

Connecticut

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Connecticut Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection

Initial Application

Delaware

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Delaware State Police - Professional Licensing Section

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$85

Due:

5 years from the holders next birthday.

District of Columbia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

District of Columbia Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration - Security Officers Management Branch

Initial Application

Fee:

$500

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$412

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by October 31.

Florida

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Division of Licensing

Initial Application

Fee:

$177.75 + $100 exam fee.

Form:

Class C Private Investigator License

License Renewal

Fee:

$85.75 + $29.75 fingerprint processing fee for the first renewal only.

Due:

Biennially

Georgia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies

Initial Application

Fee:

$45 for unarmed detective license, $70 for armed detective license.

Form:

Employee Registration

License Renewal

Fee:

$65

Due:

August 31 of odd-numbered years.

Hawaii

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs - Professional and Vocational Licensing: Private Detective and Guard Licensing Area

Initial Application

Fee:

$50 application fee + $50 exam fee + $280 if issued between July 1st of even-numbered years or $108 if issued outside of this period.

Form:

Private Detective License Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$196

Due:

June 30 of even-numbered years.

Idaho

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Idaho does not require private investigators to be licensed.

Illinois

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation - Division of Professional Regulation - Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor and Locksmith Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$150

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Triennially by May 31.

Indiana

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Indiana does not issue individual licenses for private investigators, however, individuals doing business as detectives will be required to apply for a license as a sole-proprietorship.

Iowa

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Iowa Department of Public Safety

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Due:

Biennially by the date issued.

Kansas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kansas Attorney General - Private Detective Unit

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$175

Form:

Private Detective Renewal Application

Due:

Biennially by the date issued.

Kentucky

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 application fee + $34.75 fingerprint fee + $300 license fee to be submitted upon approval.

Form:

Private Investigator Application Packet

License Renewal

Louisiana

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Due:

Annually by the date issued.

Maine

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Maine State Police - Special Investigations Unit

Initial Application

Fee:

$71 application fee + $450 license fee to be paid upon approval.

Form:

Professional Investigator Application - New

License Renewal

Fee:

$521

Form:

Professional Investigator Application - Renewal

Due:

Biennially by the date issued. After the first renewal, licensees may apply to renew their license every 4 years instead of biennially.

Maryland

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Maryland State Police

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$10

Form:

Private Detective Certification Renewal

Due:

Triennially

Massachusetts

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Massachusetts State Police - Certification Unit

Initial Application

Fee:

$550

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by the date issued.

Michigan

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) - Bureau of Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing - Licensing Division

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$300

Due:

Triennially from the date issued.

Minnesota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Minnesota Private Detective and Protective Agent Services Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$1,000

License Renewal

Fee:

$540

Due:

Biennially

Mississippi

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Mississippi does not issue individual licenses for private investigators. Registrations or permits may be required at the local level.

Missouri

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Missouri Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$300

Due:

Biennially

Montana

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Montana Board of Private Security

Initial Application

Fee:

$250 application fee + $20 exam fee + $50 armed endorsement (optional)

Form:

Application for Private Investigator

License Renewal

Fee:

$175

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by March 1.

Nebraska

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Nebraska Secretary of State - Licensing Division

Initial Application

Fee:

$50 license fee + $38 background check fee.

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Due:

June 30 of even-numbered years.

Nevada

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Nevada Private Investigator's Licensing Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$20 application fee + $100 exam fee + $100 abeyance fee + $500 license fee (pro-rated)

License Renewal

Fee:

$500 license fee + $100 abeyance fee.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by July 1.

New Hampshire

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Hampshire Division of State Police - Permits and Licensing Unit

Initial Application

Fee:

$150 application fee (per license classification) + $25 criminal record check fee + $10 background check fee

Form:

Individual Application for Private Investigator

License Renewal

Fee:

$150 application fee (per license classification) + $25 criminal record check fee + $10 background check fee

Form:

Individual and Employee Renewal Application for Private Investigator

Due:

Biennially

New Jersey

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Jersey State Police - Private Detective Unit

License Renewal

New Mexico

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Mexico Private Investigations Advisory Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$300

Form:

Private Investigator Renewal

Due:

Biennially

New York

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New York Department of State - Division of Licensing Services

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$400

Due:

Biennially

North Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

North Carolina Private Protective Services Board

Initial Application

Fee:

$150 + $38 fingerprint fee + $500 license fee.

Form:

Application for License or Associate License

License Renewal

Fee:

$500

Due:

Biennially

North Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$130

Form:

License and Registration Renewal

Due:

Annually by September 1

Ohio

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Ohio Private Investigator Security Guard Services

Initial Application

Fee:

$40

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Annually by the date issued.

Oklahoma

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training

Initial Application

Fee:

$91 for an unarmed private investigator license, $141 for an armed private investigator license, $141 for a combined unarmed guard and investigator license, and $191 for a combined armed guard and investigator license.

Form:

Individual License Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50 for an unarmed private investigator license, $100 for an armed private investigator license, and $150 for a combined guard and investigator license.

Form:

Renewal Application (SG/PI)

Due:

Triennially from the date issued.

Oregon

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training - Private Security and Private Investigators Program

Initial Application

Fee:

$29 application fee + $40 fingerprint fee + $550 license fee following approval.

Form:

Form PI-1: New Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$550

Form:

Form PI-21: Renewal Application

Due:

Biennially by the date issued.

Pennsylvania

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Pennsylvania does not issue private investigator licenses at the state level. Private investigators should apply for a county level license through the clerk of courts.

Rhode Island

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Rhode Island does not issue private investigator licenses at the state level, however, cities and towns may require licensure.

South Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

Initial Application

License Renewal

South Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

South Dakota does not issue individual licenses for private investigators. Registrations or permits may be required at the local level.

Tennessee

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance - Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$150 application fee + $38 fingerprint fee + $100 license fee following approval.

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Texas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Texas Department of Public Safety

Initial Application

Fee:

$57 for owners, officers, or partners of a firm and $37 for other investigators.

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$57 for owners, officers, or partners of a firm and $37 for other investigators.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the date issued.

Utah

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Utah Department of Public Safety - Bureau of Criminal Identification

Initial Application

License Renewal

Vermont

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Vermont Office of Professional Regulation - Board of Private Investigative and Security Services

Initial Application

Fee:

$150 for an unarmed investigator license, $200 for an armed investigator license.

Filing Method:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$120 for unarmed licensees, $180 for armed licensees.

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services

Initial Application

Fee:

$39 application fee + $50 fingerprint fee.

Form:

Initial Registration Application

License Renewal

Washington

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Washington Department of Licensing - Business and Professions Division

Initial Application

Fee:

$200 for unarmed private investigators, $300 for armed private investigators.

Form:

Private Investigator License Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$175

Form:

Private Investigator License Renewal

Due:

Annually

West Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

West Virginia Secretary of State - Business and Licensing Division

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 for West Virginia residents, $500 for out-of-state applicants.

Form:

Initial Application for License as a Private Investigator

License Renewal

Fee:

$100 for West Virginia residents, $500 for out-of-state applicants.

Form:

Renewal Application for License as a Private Investigator

Due:

Annually by the date issued.

Wisconsin

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

Initial Application

Fee:

$75 credential fee + $127 exam fee.

Form:

Application for Private Detective License

License Renewal

Fee:

$115

Filing Method:

Online

Due:

August 31 of odd-numbered years.

Wyoming

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Wyoming does not issue individual licenses for private investigators. Registrations or permits may be required at the local level.

Firearm Qualification - An additional qualification attached to license applications for armed private investigators.

Private Investigator Apprentice - Apprentices are issued limited licenses and can only operate under the direction of a licensed investigator.

Qualified Representative - A licensed private investigator who is responsible for the operation and management of an investigative agency.

Reciprocity - When a private investigator is allowed to do business in a different state under the license issued by their home state.

National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI)
Industry association that sponsors education and certification efforts for members.

National Council of Investigation and Security Services (NCISS)
Private investigation and security advocacy group.

United States Association of Professional Investigators (USAPI)
Industry association focused on education and certification.

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