If you want to become a private investigator or to work as a private investigator in the United States, it is mandatory that you apply and obtain a license or else you will be working against the law. Although 5 states namely Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota and Wyoming do not require private investigators to be licensed at the state level but Wyoming and Alaska have licensing requirements at the local level.

Please note that even states like Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota that does not require licensure for private investigators at either the state or local level still have active professional associations that have defined bylaws and codes of ethics.

Membership in these private investigator associations provides a clear set of standards for the practice of private investigation. Interestingly, Oklahoma allow candidates with no experience to become licensed, as long as they can successfully complete CLEET-approved training.

The General Procedure for Applying and Getting a Private Investigator License in The United States of America

Please be informed that almost all the states have a similar process for applying for state licensure as a private investigator, and this is the basic requirements;

  • Achieve minimum licensure requirements
  • Achieve required education/experience for licensure
  • Complete fingerprinting process for background investigation
  • Complete license application and provide necessary documentation
  • Pass state examination
  • Maintain state licensure through continuing education and license renewal
  • Private investigators must hold a current and valid surety bond to practice, which protects customers or clients from financial responsibility resulting from fraud or negligence.
  • Specifically, commercial surety bonds, which are designed for non-contract items, are often needed to obtain a license as a private investigator.

Now let’s go through the states one after the other;

How to Get a Private Investigator License in Each State of USA

  1. Alabama

In Alabama in order to get a private investigator license, you must meet the minimum requirements and then you must enclose the following documents:

  • Proof of a passing score on a Board-approved examination
  • Proof of Citizenship form and attached document (a copy of your Alabama driver’s license, valid U.S. passport, birth certificate, etc.)
  • A current photograph (meeting the specification set forth within the application)
  • A set of 3 classifiable fingerprint cards and a completed ABI Form 46
  • Affidavit of Applicant form
  • An application fee of $125 and a license fee of $300, both made payable to the APIB
  • All applications must be notarized and sent along with the required fees and related documentation, to:

APIB

P.O. Box 241206

Montgomery, AL 36124

2. Alaska

In Alaska, anyone can procure a business license for an annual fee of $50.00 ($25.00 for senior citizens). Business names should be selected carefully to avoid time wasted in re-applying because of duplication.

Becoming a private investigator in Alaska is relatively straightforward, since most locations in the state do not require a special license. Only a business license is required for those working independently, and this is relatively easy to obtain.

The license requirements are as follows:

  • Must be U.S. Citizen
  • Must have Good Moral Character
  • No Felony Convictions
  • Valid Alaska Driver’s License
  • Post $10,000 Surety Bond
  • Criminal Background Check
  • At Least 18 Years Old
  • Detailed Work History
  • Current Alaska business License
  • $100 Fee (two-year license)

Lastly, there is a $100 non-refundable application fee as well as a $400 license fee (good for two years). Mail application to the City of Fairbanks, City Clerk’s Office, 800 Cushman Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701-4615; telephone: 907-459-6715.

3. Arizona

All independent private investigators in Arizona must be licensed – and licenses can only be issued to individuals with at least three years of full-time investigative work experience. In Arizona, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) regulates the licensing of private investigators (PI), also called private detectives. That requirement can be met with work for a private investigation firm or a federal, state or local government or law enforcement agency.

The requirements are;

  • Applications must be accompanied with documentation of employment and $73 ($50 application fee plus $22 for the required fingerprinting). The DPS does a criminal background check before issuing the employee certificate. It is illegal to work for a PI agency without this certificate.
  • Submit Application and get Fingerprinting in Arizona
  • If the applicant’s fingerprints are not already on file, he/she must be fingerprinted. The standard fee is $22.
  • The application form, employer documentation and required fees can be mailed to the above address or hand-carried to the Phoenix DPS office at 2102 Encanto Blvd. Application packages, including fees, should be placed in the brown envelopes provided at the window.

The following fees need to be included in the application package:

  • One-time Application fee $250
  • License fee $400 (renewal $250)

4. Arkansas

In order to qualify for a license in Arkansas, you are expected to meet the basic requirements and the completed application should be submitted to ;

  • The Arkansas State Police Regulatory Services Division at
  • #1 State Police Plaza Drive,
  • Little Rock, AR 72209.

The application must be accompanied with the following documents:

  • Written confirmation of two years’ experience under a licensed PI
  • Passing examination score
  • Proof of legal residency (if not a citizen)
  • Check or Money Order for $450 license fee
  • $38.50 to cover background checks and fingerprint cards

5. California

It is mandatory that any person who wants to work as a private investigator should apply and obtain a license and the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) licenses private investigators in the state. A PI license allows the holder to work independently or manage a private investigative firm. A person can apply for either a private investigator license or a private investigator license with firearm permit.

The process starts with;

  • Acquire Stipulated Experience/Education in California
  • Get Fingerprinted in California
  • Obtain, Complete and Submit California’s Application Packet
  • Take and Pass California Private Investigator Examination

Together with your application packet, the following documents must be included:

  • Application Form
  • Personal Identification Form
  • Certificate in Support of Experience
  • Authorization of Business Name (if applicable)
  • Two Passport-Type Photos (2”X 1-1/2”)
  • Firearms Qualification and Firearms Permit Application (if applicable)
  • Live Scan Receipt
  • Check or Money Order for $50 ($130 if requesting firearms permit)

The complete application pack should be mailed to;

BSIS, P.O. Box 989002,

West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002.

6. Colorado

Please note that a license is not required to work as a private investigator in Colorado, but these professionals can volunteer to be licensed. Having this license adds additional credibility to a PI in Colorado. Licenses can be obtained from the Division of Professions and Occupations of the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies. A fingerprint and background check is required to obtain such a license.

In Colorado, private investigator licenses must be renewed on May 31st of each year. If a license is issued within 120 days of the upcoming renewal date (May 31st), the licensee will not be required to be renewed until May 31st the following year.

7. Connecticut

If you are interested in getting a private investigator license in Connecticut, then you should visit the Special Licensing and Firearms Unit of the Connecticut State Police. They are responsible for handling the licensing of private detectives in Connecticut. They regulate the qualifications and eligibility of interested individuals who wish to become private investigators in the state.

But before you can be issued the license, you must;

  • Meet Fundamental Requirements for Private Detectives in Connecticut
  • Fulfill Education and Experience Prerequisites for Private Detectives in Connecticut
  • Submit Connecticut Private Detective License Application and Required Documentation

Please note that there are stringent requirements to become a private investigator in Connecticut. Applicants are required to be at least 25 years old and have five years of full time experience in one of the following:

  • Being a registered private investigator
  • Operating a detective agency
  • Being an investigator with a law enforcement agency
  • Being a detective with a law enforcement agency
  • Any other related investigative experience
  • A performance surety bond for $10,000
  • A general liability insurance policy for $300,000

Please be informed that licenses are obtained from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection for the state of Connecticut.

8. Delaware

You would need a license to be able to work as a private investigator in Delaware because private investigators in Delaware must be licensed through the Delaware State Police Professional Licensing section. In order to obtain a private investigator’s license an applicant must;

  • Meet General Criteria for Licensure as a Private Investigator in Delaware
  • Satisfy Training and Experiential Qualifications for Licensed Private Investigators in Delaware
  • Submit Licensing Application(s) and Supporting Documentation to the Delaware State Police

Please note that despite the fact that a license from the Delaware State Police is required to become a PI in the state, there is no specific training requirement.  There are a number of types of arrests that can disqualify a potential candidate and law enforcement agents are not permitted to become private investigators in Delaware.

9. District of Columbia

Please note that under the Municipal Regulations of the District of Columbia, a license is needed in order to work as a private investigator or, as called in the regulations, a “private detective.”

In order to qualify for a private investigator license in DC you must;

  • Meet Preliminary Requirements for Licensure as a Private Detective in Washington, DC
  • Satisfy Educational Preferences and Training Requirements for Licensed Private Detectives in Washington, DC
  • Submit Washington, DC Licensing Application(s) and Supporting Documentation to the Metropolitan Police Department
  • Notarized affidavit form (will be issued to you by SOMB) that lists your past employment, residences and arrest history
  • Copies of the final court disposition for any charges on your arrest record
  • License fee of $206 payable via cashier’s check, certified check or money order to the D.C. treasurer
  • Two recent color photos, passport-sized
  • Copy of your birth certificate from the Vital Statistics Office of your birth state
  • Copies of any documents indicating name changes (such as marriage certificates, divorce decrees and adoption papers)
  • Copy of your separation from the military, if applicable

Please be informed that once you are at the SOMB, they will schedule your fingerprinting for the Metropolitan Police Department and FBI criminal background checks that will be performed. The background check will take up to two weeks to complete. If you pass, you will be issued a license and identification card as a Private Detective in the District of Columbia.

10. Florida

In Florida, all private investigators are required to carry a Class C license and in order to qualify for this license, you, must;

  • Meet Basic Qualifications for Licensure as a Private Investigator in Florida
  • Complete Training and Experience Required of Private Investigators in Florida
  • Pass the Florida Private Investigator Licensing Examination
  • Apply for Class C Licensure as a Private Investigator in Florida
  • Complete the Application for Class C Private Investigator License.
  • Attach a color passport-sized recent photo of yourself.
  • Include a completed, signed and notarized Affidavit of Experience (Form FDACS-16023)
  • Include the certificate of completion confirming your passing score on the exam
  • Include proof of completion of the training and/or educational requirements, such as a diploma, degree and/or transcript
  • Include a set of fingerprints on the fingerprint card. Instructions for this process are provided within the application package.
  • Include a check or money order payable to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for $167 (includes $50 application fee, $75 license fee, and $42 fingerprint processing fee)

You are expected to mail the above information to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing, P.O. Box 9100, Tallahassee, FL 32315-9100.

11. Georgia

In Georgia, there are two ways of working as a private investigator in Georgia: working for yourself or working for someone else. Working for yourself is more complicated and requires a license and years of previous experience either in law enforcement or private investigations, or a university degree, plus bigger financial burdens including:

  • $125 exam fee
  • $400 application fee
  • Having one of the following:
  • $25,000 bond
  • $1 million liability insurance policy
  • Net worth of $50,000 or more

Please note that the steps involved in becoming a private investigator in Georgia vary depending on whether applicants wish to be hired by a private detective company or whether they wish to start their own company.

12. Hawaii

In Hawaii, in order to become a private investigator, you would need a license from the Board of Private Detectives and Guards. This Board is part of the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs for the state of Hawaii.

Please note that there are strict requirements to obtain a license in Hawaii.  Four years of full-time work as an investigator is required, along with a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must submit their fingerprints to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center and undergo a criminal background check.  In addition, they must pass a written exam with a score of at least 75%.

The following fee is applicable;

  • Business entity application fee: $100
  • Sole-proprietor application fee: $50
  • $5,000 bond for agencies and sole-proprietors
  • Entity licensing fee: $260 or a prorated $105. Renewal fee: $310
  • Sole-proprietor license fee: $210 or a prorated $80. Renewal fee: $260

Statistics shows that the number of licenses that had been issued as of 2012 was greater than the number of people working as private investigators in Hawaii.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 91 licenses were active at that time.

13. Idaho

Idaho is currently one of the six states in the country that do not require a specific license for private investigators. However, this does not mean there are private detectives operating carelessly throughout the Gem State; on the contrary, private investigators often interpret the lack of state regulation as a cue for greater personal accountability.

As a matter of fact, obtaining a business license is a relatively straightforward process that you can complete it online. The State of Idaho offers information on government regulations that apply to your business as well as what type of business entity you should establish. There are associated fees that depend on what type of business you create and how many, if any, employees you will have.

Please note that despite the fact that it is not compulsory to get a license to work as private investigator, clients and companies who hire you as a private investigator may also be interested in the following:

  • Results of any state and federal background checks
  • References who can attest to your moral character
  • Employment and military history, if any

14. Illinois

In Illinois, licensing is required for private investigators to work in the state.  Applicants must pass an exam before they can apply to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for a license. At this time, they must have proof of having at least $1 million in liability insurance. Licenses are valid for six years in Illinois.

If you meet the basic requirements as states above, you should submit a Complete Application for Licensure in Illinois Along with your complete application, you will also need to submit the following to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation:

  • Criminal background check
  • Proof of a $1 million liability insurance policy
  • $291 examination fee
  • Fingerprints and authorization for a background check with the Illinois State Police
  • If you are choosing to carry a firearm you will need to submit either your firearm training certification or a waiver of firearm training if you have already completed comparable training

Once you are eligible to be licensed you will be notified of the licensure fee

15. Indiana

In Indiana, individual employees of a private investigation firm do not need a license, but Indiana has stringent requirements for those in charge of detective agencies. Applicants to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency must have criminal background checks completed by each county, city, and state that they have lived in within the past seven years. It is important that the background checks be completed at each local jurisdiction.

To obtain a license for private investigator jobs in Indiana you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have at least two years (4,000 hours) of work experience in the investigations or security field; or meet the approved education equivalent
  • Possess professional liability insurance of at least $100,000 that lists the State of Indiana as an additional insured
  • Have no convictions for felonies or crimes that would have a direct bearing on your ability to act as a PI
  • Not currently be on probation or parole
  • In place of the requirement for two years of work experience in the investigations or security field, you may substitute the approved education equivalent of a four-year degree in criminal justice.

In addition, applicants must have proof that they have at least $100,000 of limited liability insurance. Four thousand hours of experience as an investigator is also required to obtain a license in Indiana. A private investigator’s license in this state does not grant the right to carry a firearm.

16. Iowa

Please note that a license from the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Administrative Services is required to become a private investigator in the state. Applicants must submit two sets of fingerprints for a background check.  Those applying as individuals must provide proof of insurance in the form of a $5,000 surety bond.

Under the Department of Public Safety, the Private Investigator Licensing Services Bureau headquartered in Des Moines is the agency responsible for issuing private investigator licenses in the state.

When completing a license for private investigator jobs in Iowa, make sure to include the following along with your complete application:

  • Two fingerprint cards
  • $140 total fee for fingerprinting, licensing, and ID card
  • Proof of a surety bond of at least $5,000
  • Proof of liability insurance covering accidents, wrongdoings, and subsequent consequences

17. Kansas

Individuals who want to become a private investigator in Kansas have to be licensed by the Kansas Attorney General. This is done through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and pass an examination to be eligible to get a PI’s license. They must also have proof of one of the following:

  • $100,000 corporate surety bond
  • General liability insurance providing coverage for bodily injury or property damage that provides $100,000 of coverage
  • $100,000 deposit with the State Treasurer
  • Two sets of fingerprint cards are also required, so that a background check can be conducted.

If you choose to carry a firearm while working you will need to complete the following private investigator training requirements:

  • Complete a 16-hour training course covering the lawful use of force and firearm handling for which you will receive a notice of completion. You may substitute for this by showing proof of completion of a full-time law enforcement training course
  • Pay a $50 permit fee

When making your application to the Attorney General in Topeka be sure to include the following:

  • Complete application
  • Complete Private Detective Licensing Act Exam
  • Fingerprint cards and permission for a background investigation
  • Proof of surety bond, insurance coverage, or cash deposit
  • Proof of education
  • DD 214 for military service personnel
  • Five personal references from U.S. citizens who have known you at least five years
  • Application fee: $250 if you will work for an agency or work independently or $100 if you are the owner, partner, or associate of a PI agency

18. Kentucky

A license from the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Private Investigators is required to become a private investigator in this commonwealth. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and meet requirements for having good character and not having had a felony conviction in the past ten years.

The first step you need to take towards your goal of becoming licensed is to ensure you meet the following qualifications:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Be of good moral character
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident alien
  • If you have any felony convictions, 10 years must have passed since the completion of your sentence
  • No convictions for crimes involving dishonesty or moral turpitude within the past five years
  • If you are a military veteran, you must not have been dishonorably discharged
  • Be of sound mental capacity
  • No misdemeanor or higher convictions within the past three years for crimes involving controlled substances
  • May not have been enrolled in a facility or program for substance abuse in the past three years
  • May not chronically or habitually use alcohol or drugs

When submitting an application for licensure you can begin by applying for an individual license. All private detectives operating in the state must at minimum be licensed individually.

Your Individual Application for Licensure should include:

  • $100 application fee
  • $300 license fee
  • $20 licensing request fee
  • Proof of affiliation from your employing PI agency, if any
  • Proof of a $250,000 for combined single-limit liability insurance – if you are solely employed by an attorney this is not necessary
  • Criminal history background checks with three fingerprint cards for a $36.50 fee
  • Signed release for medical and psychological records

Please note that as part of the individual licensing process you will need to take the Private Investigator Exam.

19. Louisiana

The state of Louisiana requires a license from the state’s Board of Private Investigator Examiners to become a private investigator. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have not been convicted of felonies or crimes of moral turpitude.

Please note that applicants for all types of licenses must submit the following materials with their applications:

  • Two fingerprint cards
  • Criminal identification information
  • Any required sponsor agency forms

20. Maine

Private investigators are licensed and strictly regulated by the Maine State Police. Those who wish to call themselves professional investigators in Maine must meet specific experience and training requirements.

When you have met the above qualifications, you are ready to submit the Maine Application for Professional Investigator License. Along with the completed application, you must submit:

  • Check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of Maine for $71 (includes application fee of $50 plus State Bureau of Identification record check fee of $21). (A final fee of $450 is due when you pass the Maine Professional Investigators Exam prior to issuance of your license)
  • A copy of your high school diploma or GED
  • A copy of your birth certificate/resident alien card
  • Copy of your military discharge, if applicable
  • Copy of any certificates you hold from law enforcement academy training and transcripts, if applicable
  • Copy of college diploma and transcripts, if applicable
  • Copy of documentation of your work history, including jobs, duties, and dates, signed by employer(s)
  • Pass the Maine Professional Investigators Examination
  • Three certifications from persons who have known you for at least three years. These must be signed by persons who live in your community, live in the community in which you work, or live in the community in which you plan to work
  • Signed Form P-3, giving authority to all law enforcement agencies, courts, military forces, government agencies, hospitals and mental institutions to release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police for evaluating your application
  • Signed Authorization to Release form giving your authority to the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and the Riverview Psychiatric Center to release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police for evaluation of your application (must be signed and included with all applications, even if you were never a patient at either facility)
  • Signed Form 577, Client Authorization to release information to the Chief of the Maine State Police from the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and the Riverview Psychiatric Center (must be signed and included with all applications, even if you were never a patient at either facility)

If completed, you can mail all of the above to Department of Public Safety, Maine State Police, Special Investigations Unit, 164 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0164. Please note that you expected to obtain Commercial General Liability Insurance for Maine Professional Investigators and the minimum required amounts of coverage are as follows:

  • Property damage: $10,000
  • Each occurrence limit: $100,000
  • General aggregate limit: $200,000

21. Maryland

The state of Maryland requires that all private detectives become registered before they may legally practice in Maryland. Private investigators who wish to open their own agencies must also become licensed. Qualifications vary depending upon your status (i.e., if you work for a private detective agency or run your own private detective agency) and generally include training and experience.

Please note that in order to become a registered private detective in Maryland, you must:

  • Submit the Multiple Licensing Application, having pages 7 and 13 notarized
  • Submit one set of completed fingerprint cards (one purple CJIS fingerprint card and one blue and white FBI fingerprint card)
  • Submit two recent (taken in the last month) passport-type photos of yourself with a white background
  • Submit private detective registration fee of $15 via check or money order payable to Maryland State Police
  • Submit background check fee of $37.25 via check or money order payable to Maryland State Police

If requesting a handgun permit along with your private investigator registration, you must also submit:

  • Two additional recent (taken in the last month) passport-type photographs of yourself with a white background
  • $75 application fee via separate check/money order payable to Maryland State Police
  • Certificate of qualification with a handgun from a Maryland State Police Certified Handgun instructor on a Maryland State Police form
  • Copy of form letter (obtained by your private detective employer) supporting good and substantial reasons why you need a handgun permit, ownership of a weapon, and location of the handgun

Mail all of the above to Maryland State Police, Licensing Division, 1111 Reisterstown Rd, Pikesville, MD 21208. It may take up to 90 days for the background check to be completed and for your application to be approved. Once approved, you will receive a private detective identification card.

This is valid for employment only with the private detective agency listed on your application. If you change employers, you must surrender your card to the Maryland State Police and register to work for another agency.

22. Massachusetts

A license from the Department of Public Safety is required to become a private investigator in Massachusetts. Applicants must have recommendation letters from three reputable citizens of the state and cannot have been convicted of a felony.  Three years of experience is required.

If you meet the basic requirements and you are ready to apply for licensure as a private detective in Massachusetts, you must:

  • Submit the completed Application for a License as a Private Detective
  • Submit the Certificate Page, completed by three reputable Massachusetts citizens who either live in your community, live in the community in which you do business, live in the community in which you plan to work, and have been personally acquainted with you for at least three years
  • Submit the completed Investigative Employment Experience form, listing your experience as an investigator for at least the past three years
  • Submit the completed and notarized Authorization for Release of Information form
  • Submit the completed and notarized Bond Form
  • Submit the $5000 Surety Bond (ask your insurance provider to recommend a bonding company if they do not handle surety bond completion)
  • Submit a check or money order for the licensure fee of $550 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Submit a Certificate of Business from the town hall in the town in which you plan to open your detective agency, or Corporate Structure/Articles of Incorporation from the Secretary of State’s Office

Mail the above items to the Department of State Police Certification Unit, 485 Maple St, Danvers, MA 01923. Your application package will be assigned to a State Police investigator, who will conduct a thorough background investigation of the information provided. Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will contact you for a personal interview. The entire licensing process takes from two to six weeks.

23. Michigan

The state of Michigan requires a license to work as a private detective. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs issues these licenses.  Applicants must be at least 25 years old.

If you know that you have successfully met the minimum requirements for licensure either through education or experience, you can apply using the Application for Professional Investigator License Holder. Along with a completed application, you must submit the following:

  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Completed Employment Verification forms or an official transcript if you are qualifying through a degree (included in application packet)
  • A Professional Investigator Surety Bond or Insurance Amendatory Endorsement form that covers all 3 years of the license period
  • A copy of your Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization (Available through the Bureau of Commercial Services at 517-241-6470)
  • A copy of your Certificate of Co-Partnership from the county clerk where your business is located
  • An Assumed Name Certificate or DBA if you are using a name that is different from your name or your corporation or organization name (Available from the Bureau of Commercial Services, Corporate Division, at 517-241-6470)
  • Five (5) notarized Personal Reference forms from individuals who can attest to knowing you for at least 5 years (included in application packet)
  • According to the Professional Investigator Licensure Act, all private investigators in Michigan must be fingerprinted upon being hired by an agency.

If you are currently a law enforcement officer, you may not be licensed in the State of Michigan as a private detective unless you produce one of the following to the Department:

  • Written permission to act as a private investigator from your employer
  • A copy of your jurisdiction’s published policies and procedures that includes verbiage of officers being allowed to seek off-duty employment as a private investigator
  • A copy of the collective bargaining agreement from your jurisdiction

The licensing fees for private investigators in Michigan are as follows (make check payable to the State of Michigan):

  • Individual License $750
  • Partnership License $750
  • Corporation License $750
  • Limited Liability Company License $750

The completed application and related documentation should be sent to:

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Licensing Division

Professional Investigator

Post Office Box 30018

Lansing, Michigan 48909

24. Minnesota

A license from the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agency Services is required to become a private detective in Minnesota. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Private detectives must provide liability insurance in the form of a $10,000 surety bond.

If you know that you have successfully met the experience requirements for licensure in Minnesota as a private investigator, you can request an application package from the Board by submitting a non-refundable fee of $25 (made payable to the Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services), along with a written request that specifies you are interested in receiving an application for a private detective and the level at which you want to apply*, to:

State of Minnesota

Board of Private Detective and Protective Agent Services

1430 Maryland Avenue East

St. Paul, Minnesota, 55106

You must also submit the following documents with your application (all forms are included in your application packet):

  • A completed informed consent criminal history form
  • A recent photograph
  • A full set of fingerprints
  • Five (5) references from people not related to you who have known you for at least 5 years
  • If you are applying as a qualified representative, you must include documentation of work experience

25. Mississippi

Mississippi, to date, has no licensing or regulation requirements for private investigators. However, private investigators and private investigative agencies operating in Mississippi still have a number of options to pursue when looking to set up shop in the state. But it is recommended that PIs in the state obtain a business license.

To work as a private investigator in Mississippi, you are required to;

  • Complete an Education Program in Mississippi
  • Seek Experience in Criminal Justice
  • Attain Professional Recognition in Mississippi
  • Obtain a Permit to Carry a Concealed Weapon in Mississippi

26. Missouri

You would need a private investigator license to be able to legally work in Missouri and The Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners, through the Missouri Division of Professional Regulation, regulates and licenses professional investigators. The Division of Professional Regulation supports 40 licensing boards in the state, which in turn license more than 430,000 people.

In order to qualify for this license, you must;

  • Meet Minimum Requirements in Missouri
  • Apply for a Private Investigator License in Missouri
  • $500 application fee (check or money order made payable to the Board of Private Investigator and Private Fire Investigator Examiners
  • Two passport-style photographs
  • Proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance of no less than $250,000
  • A complete set of fingerprints – You must submit a set of fingerprints to the Board.

Once your application and related documentation are received, you can expect a follow-up email informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Board.

27. Montana

In order to become a private investigator or private detective in Montana, the state requires a license from the Montana Board of Private Security Patrol Officers and Investigators. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. They will have to submit proof that they have 5,400 hours (three years) of investigative experience and that they have liability insurance.

If you know that you meet all of the necessary requirements for licensure, you must apply for a private investigator license by completing the Application for Private Investigator and submit the following documents:

  • $250 application fee* (or $150 application fee* for a private investigator trainee)
  • $20 examination fee*
  • Proof of commercial general liability insurance (which includes personal injury and errors and omission coverage) of at least $500,000
  • A passport-style photograph
  • Copy of driver’s license or birth certificate for proof of age
  • Copy of birth certificate or U.S. passport or immigration card for proof of citizenship or permanent legal residency
  • Copy of diploma or GED certificate
  • At least three references not related by blood or marriage
  • Copy of DD-214 (if you served in the military)
  • Proof of education/experience
  • Copy of current firearms certificate (if applicable)
  • *Check or money order made payable to the Montana Board of Private Security
  • Sit for Montana’s Examination for Private Investigators

Please note that the Board will mail you fingerprint cards, a self-addressed envelope, and instructions for obtaining your fingerprints. You can obtain your fingerprints from most local enforcement agencies. Once you have your fingerprints completed, you must send the completed card and a check and money order for $27.25 (made payable to the Montana Department of Justice) to:

Montana Criminal Records

303 North Roberts

Post Office Box 201403

Helena, Montana 59620

28. Nebraska

In Nebraska, a license from the state is required to become a private investigator in the state. The fees are slightly different, depending on whether the application is to be a private detective or a plain-clothes investigator.

If you are interested in getting a license and you meet the minimum qualification for licensure and can provide documentation of the completion of your experience and education qualifications, you can apply for a license by completing the Application for Plain Clothes or Private Detective License or an Application for Private Detective Agency.

Along with your completed application, you must provide the following documents to the Division of Licensing:

  • Licensing Fee
  • Private Detective Agency: $100 + $38 (license plus background check)
  • Private Detective: $50 + $38
  • Plain Clothes Investigator: $25 + $38
  • Two fingerprint cards (for a national criminal history record check through the FBI), which can be completed at any local law enforcement office
  • A signed and authorized Release of Information form
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Documentation showing proof of experience/education (not required for plain clothes investigators)
  • Proof of $10,000 surety bond (not required for plain clothes investigators)
  • Take the Nebraska Examination for Private Investigator License

Mail the completed application and related documentation/fee to:

Division of Licensing

P.O. Box 94608

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

29. Nevada

The state of Nevada requires a license from the state’s Private Investigator’s Licensing Board to work as a private investigator or private detective.  Applicants must be at least 21 years old and undergo rigorous background checks

In order to get a private investigator license in Nevada,

  • All candidates for private investigator licenses in Nevada must possess at least 5 years of investigative experience (2,000 hours each year for a total of 10,000 hours).
  • A non-refundable application processing fee of $20
  • A $100 examination fee
  • A $750 background investigation deposit (and $250 for each additional category of license for which the application is made)

Note: If you are a resident of Nevada, the entire cost of the investigation may total no more than $1,500 (each additional category may be up to $500), while a corporate applicant or an application who is not a resident of Nevada is liable for the entire cost of the investigation.

  • A passport-style photograph
  • A completed child support information form (if applicable)
  • A copy of your birth certificate, naturalization papers and/or passport
  • Certificate of Good Standing and a Certificate of Incorporation from the state you are incorporated in (for corporation licenses only)
  • Three (3) fingerprint cards, along with a fingerprint processing fee of $37.50 (made payable to Nevada DPS)
  • At least 3 Notarized Certificates of Support of Experience and Qualifications forms
  • At least 3 Notarized Certificates in Support of Personal References forms
  • Diplomas and transcripts showing proof of education (if applicable)
  • Three (3) years of tax returns, including all W2s, K1s and/or 1099s
  • Pass the Nevada Examination for Private Investigators

30. New Hampshire

A license from the State Police of New Hampshire is required to become a private investigator or private detective in the state. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and undergo a criminal background check. Liability insurance in the form of a $50,000 surety bond is also required.

To apply for a private investigator license, you must complete the appropriate Application for Licensure:

  • Employee Application for Private Investigator
  • Individual Application or Private Investigator
  • Agency Application for Private Investigator
  • Firearms Proficiency Certification for Private Investigator
  • Bond for Private Investigator

You are expected to provide the following to the Department of Safety:

  • A two-year, $50,000 surety bond on an approved form
  • $150 application fee (or $500 application fee for a private investigator agency license)
  • $25 criminal record check fee
  • $10 background investigation fee
  • $26.50 fingerprinting fee (for armed status applicants only)

To schedule your fingerprints, you must make an appointment by calling 603-223-3873. You must make the appointment prior to dropping off your application for licensure.

All forms must be printed out, completed and delivered in person (DO NOT mail forms) to:

Department of Safety

Room 106 (Permits and Licensing)

33 Hazen Drive

Concord, New Hampshire

31. New Jersey

Private investigators in New Jersey are regulated as private detectives, and a license from the New Jersey State Police is required to operate in the state. An applicant to be a private detective or private investigator must be at least 25 years old and have five years of experience as an investigator or police officer.  Liability insurance in the form of a $3000 surety bond is also required.

When applying for private investigator license in New Jersey, you must also include the following documents with your completed application:

  • An application fee of $250 (firm, association or corporation is $300), made payable to the State of New Jersey
  • A passport-sized photograph
  • At least 5 references from reputable citizens over the age of 21 who can attest to your competency to serve as a licensed private investigator
  • A notarized and signed Authorization for Release of Information form (included with the application)
  • A Detective Agency License Surety Bond form
  • Individual surety bond must be at least $3,000
  • Firm, association or corporation surety bond must be at least $5,000

You are expected to mail the completed application and related documents to:

New Jersey State Police

Private Detective Unit

P.O. Box 7068

West Trenton, NJ 08628

32. New Mexico

The state of New Mexico requires a license by the New Mexico Private Investigations Board to work as a private investigator in the state. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and have completed mandatory firearms training.  They must provide proof of having a $10,000 surety bond as insurance.

The Board also requires that applicants have 6,000 hours of investigative experience obtained within the past five years. A criminal background check is also required. In order to get a private investigator license in New Mexico, you must provide the following documentation with your completed application:

  • A non-refundable application fee of $200 (includes $100 license fee and $100 examination fee)
  • Proof of experience
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Proof of age (birth certificate, driver’s license or state-issued ID)
  • Proof of mandatory firearms training (if applicable)
  • A copy of your surety bond of no less than $10,000.
  • Proof of an owner or licensed private investigations manager who will certify that they will manage the daily operations of the private investigation company
  • If you are the owner or CEO of a private investigation company that provides personal protection or bodyguard services, you must provide proof of an active general liability insurance policy of at least $1 million. (for private investigations companies)
  • Proof of employment with a private investigation company for whom you will provide investigation services and the individual who will provide direct supervision to you (for private investigations employees)

Please note that all candidates for private investigator licenses must provide 2 full sets of fingerprints to qualify for licensure.

When completed, you can send the application and required documentation to:

New Mexico Private Investigations Board

P.O. Box 25101

Santa Fe, NM 87504

34. New York

New York state requires that private investigators obtain a license from the Department of State Division of Licensing Services before they work in the state. Requirements include being at least 25 years old and undergoing a background check.

Please note that applicants must have one of the following amount types of experience before they can apply:

  • Three years as a law enforcement officer
  • Three years working for a licensed private investigator
  • Twenty years as an employee of a police or fire department
  • Pass a written exam to become a private investigator in New York state.

Also, your application must include the following documents:

  • A signed DMV Consent form
  • Bond form
  • Receipt from electronic fingerprinting by an approved vendor
  • Application fee (made payable to the NYS Department of State) of $400 (or $500 for a business or corporate business license and $500 for each branch office)
  • Proof of qualifying experience (a sworn statement from each employer)
  • Sworn statements from at least 3 people who have direct knowledge of your claimed experience
  • Proof of earnings for the last 3 years of full-time experience

35. North Carolina

To become a private investigator in North Carolina, a license from the state’s Department of Justice is required. Applicants must be at least 18 years old or 21 if they want to carry a firearm in the line of work. They must have a criminal background check from every county they have lived in over the past five years.

The application and other required forms are available from the departmental website. You will need to submit your:

  • Application (for armed or unarmed registration)
  • Fingerprint authorization card
  • Photograph of head and shoulders taken within the past six months

Email to [email protected]

  • Full name with your last name first
  • First four digits of your social security number
  • Credit check from Equifax run within the past 30 days
  • Checks or money orders made out to the Private Protective Services Board
  • $150 non-refundable application fee
  • $38 for your fingerprint check
  • Proof of education (high school or college diploma or GED)
  • DD214 if a veteran or discharged
  • Release of record form that has been signed and notarized
  • Signed information form for the SBI Release of Records
  • Personal reference questionnaire filled out by each of your references

36. North Dakota

A license from the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board (NDPISB) is required to become a private investigator in the state.  Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. Before they can apply for their license, aspiring PIs must pass a written examination.

Please note that once you have received your training and passed your exam, you can apply to receive your North Dakota private investigator license. You will have to pay a $130 fee for your license. When you apply for the first time, you will also have to pay a one-time fee of $100.

You will have to submit a number of forms that you can download from the state’s website. These include the following:

  • Application
  • Personal authorization for a criminal background check
  • Certification of training
  • Employment history for the past ten years

Please be informed that the NDPISB requires a substantial amount of experience from those applying for a PI license. They must have been employed performing investigative services for 2000 hours. This must have been as a registered employee of a detective agency.

37. Ohio

A license from the Ohio Department of Public Safety is required to become a private investigator in Ohio, along with passing a written exam. A background check and proof of insurance are required to apply for a license.

Applicants must have the following amount of liability insurance:

  • $100,000 per investigator
  • $100,000 for property damage
  • $300,000 for each occurrence of bodily injury

When submitting your application, you will also have to provide the following:

  • Photograph (recent full-face)
  • Character references (from at least 5 reputable citizens)
  • Examination fee of $25
  • License fee of up to $375 (refundable if you don’t get a license)
  • Fingerprints for a criminal background check—submitted directly to the Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation
  • Proof of liability insurance of at least
  • $100,000 for each investigator
  • $300,000 for each occurrence of bodily injury
  • $100,000 for property damage

38. Oregon

To become a private detective or private investigator in Oregon, a license from the state’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) is required. Veterans who actively served in the military do not have to pay a licensing fee.

Please be informed that applicants will have to fulfill a number of requirements and take a written exam to obtain this license. They must achieve a score of 86% to pass this test.

When applying for your license, you will need the following items:

  • Fees made out to DPSST (no personal checks or cash)
  • Background check and exam fee: $79
  • License fee: $550
  • Those who have returned from active military status are exempt
  • Application (PS-1)
  • Letters of reference (3 professional)
  • Fingerprint cards
  • Sealed with affidavit (PS-4) in a tamperproof bag
  • Photographs (2 electronic taken within last six months)
  • Submit to [email protected]
  • $5,000 corporate surety bond or
  • $5,000 errors and omissions insurance, showing individual licensee
  • Resume (clearly showing education, qualifications, and work experience)
  • Professional Code of Ethics for PIs (PI-27)
  • A criminal background check is also required, and applicants must have $5000 liability insurance either as a surety bond or errors and omissions insurance. The DPSST also requires three professional letters of reference.

You can expect the process to take 4 to 8 weeks.

Please be informed that only those who are at least 18 years old can apply for a license. They must have at least 1500 hours of experience as an investigator.  This time can be reduced by up to a third with college credit hours.

Licenses are good for two years, and private investigators must obtain 32 hours of continuing education to be able to renew it.

39. Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you are required to obtain a license to become a private investigator in the state. Even though the state provides the regulations for getting a license, you will need to get your license from the county you plan to work in.

When you have met the requirements to become a private investigator, you should contact your Clerk of Courts to find out exactly how to submit your application and the amount of your county’s filing fee.

The state requires that you submit the following with your application:

  • Fingerprint cards
  • The signatures of five character references who have known you for at least 5 years
  • Passport size photographs (2)
  • Surety bond for $10,000
  • License fee of $200 for an individual

Please be informed that you will have to contact your local city or county to find out the particulars of submitting an application in your jurisdiction.

The state of Rhode Island requires that you provide the following along with your application:

  • $150 license fee
  • A surety bond for $5,000

The state of Rhode Island requires a substantial amount of experience or training to be able to apply to be a private investigator. One of the following is required:

  • Being a law enforcement officer or investigator for 5 years
  • Having a criminal justice degree
  • Being employed as an investigator for a private detective for 5 years
  • Having equivalent training or experience
  • Once a license has been obtained, it is good for one year.

40. South Carolina

In South Carolina, you are required to obtain a license before you can work as a private investigator in the state and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is the agency that licenses private investigators.

If you want to apply for a private investigator license in South Carolina, you will need to provide the following items:

  • Application (signed and notarized)
  • License fee: $350 money order, cashier’s check, or company check made out to SLED
  • Fingerprint cards (2 complete sets)
  • Photograph (color taken within the past 3 months)
  • Surety bond for $10,000
  • Statement from your county’s Clerk of Court’s office that you do not have any outstanding civil judgments

41. South Dakota

In South Dakota, the process of getting a private investigator license state include;

  • Obtain the Necessary Education and Training in South Dakota
  • Set up Your Business in South Dakota
  • Obtain a South Dakota Sales Tax License

42. Tennessee

A license is required to become a private investigator or private detective in Tennessee. Applicants must be at least 21 years old to obtain their license from the Department of Commerce and Insurance. They must either be affiliated with a licensed private investigator firm in the state or be prepared to license their own company.

If you are interested in applying and getting a private investigator license in Tennessee, then you must submit;

  • Application: $150
  • Fingerprint processing: $60
  • License: $100
  • Fingerprint cards (3 sets) or a photocopy of your electronic submission receipt
  • Photographs (2 color passport style)
  • Letter of endorsement/affiliation from a Private Investigation Company

43. Texas

To become a private investigator in Texas, a license is required from the Texas Private Security Bureau. Applicants must be able to qualify as the manager or owner of a PI firm. If they do not meet these requirements, they must first train with a PI agency.

When applying for private investigator license in Texas, you will need to submit:

  • $33 application fee
  • $25 FBI classification fee and two completed fingerprint cards or a receipt from electronic fingerprinting
  • If sent by mail, payment must be made by check or money order payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • You must also pass the Qualified Manager Exam within 90 days of submitting your application. This exam is administered in Austin about three to five times each month. It is a two-hour, multiple-choice and true-false exam made up of 140 questions. You must get at least 105 questions correct to pass the exam.
  • As company owner, you will also be required to show proof of adequate liability insurance using the Certificate of Liability Insurance Form.

If you are applying by mail, send all of the above to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security MSC 0242, P.O. Bo 15999, Austin, TX 78761-5999

44. Utah

You need a license to work as a private investigator to work in Utah and the Utah Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau licenses qualified individuals as private investigators in the state.

When submitting an Application and Supporting Documentation for Licensure as a Private Investigator in Utah, you must submit with the following:

  • $100 for a private investigator registrant or apprentice license via credit card or check or money order payable to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification
  • $16.50 FBI fingerprinting/criminal background check fee via credit card or check or money order payable to the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification
  • A recent passport-sized color photo of yourself taken in the last 90 days
  • A photocopy of your driver’s license/state identification card
  • One completed fingerprint card (pick one up at the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification, or have your local police department or sheriff’s office assist you)
  • A copy of the required surety bond for $10,000 (this is required for both private investigator registrants and apprentice applications)

When completed, mail or bring the above information to Bureau of Criminal Identification, 3888 West 5400 South, Taylorsville, UT 84129. It may take the Bureau 90 days to process your application, which includes conducting a thorough background investigation and review by the Private Investigator Hearing and Licensure Board.

45. Vermont

A license from the Board of Private Investigative & Security Services is required to become a private investigator in Vermont. Applicants will have to pass an exam before they can apply for their license.

Once you have passed the exam, then you can submit the Private Investigator and/or Security Guard Qualifying Agent Application and;

  • Attach a fee of $150 for unarmed status or $200 for armed status via check payable to Vermont Secretary of State
  • Attach a passport-sized photo of yourself to the application
  • Request that character references and verifications of your experience be submitted directly by the reference to the Board (form included in application packet)
  • Complete fingerprinting requirements
  • Attach certification of completion of firearms training, if requesting armed status

When completed, you can mail the above to Vermont Secretary of State, Office or Professional Regulation, 89 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620-3402.

46. Virginia

You would need a license to work as a private investigator ins Virginia and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services oversees the private investigator verification and application process.

If you are interested in securing a license from Virginia, be informed that;

  • Applicants must submit an initial registration application form along with the nonrefundable application fee and a completed fingerprint card.
  • The fingerprint processing application also must be submitted along with the applicable processing fee.
  • Virginia requires all private investigator firms to carry a surety bond in the minimum of amount of $100,000. This requirement only applies to those wishing to establish a company, not to individual private investigators. $300,000 in liability insurance is also required of private investigator firms.

47. Washington

Washington state requires a license from its Department of Licensing to become a private investigator or private detective in the state. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. They must have a job offer or already be employed by a licensed private investigator company in order to be able to apply for this license.

An examination is also required to be able to become a PI in Washington state. Please be informed that in order to become licensed as a private investigator in the state of Washington you must meet basic license eligibility requirements and secure a position with a Washington State licensed PI agency.

48. West Virginia

In West Virginia, the West Virginia Licensing Division handles the licensing and regulation of private investigators operating in the state. Please note that in order to become a private investigator in West Virginia, you must meet the requirements of basic eligibility, obtain and provide character references, decide if you will become an employer or not, get fingerprinted and photographed, provide verification of experience, and obtain a surety bond and pay a fee.

It should be noted that a two or four-year degree in a law enforcement or criminal justice related field will significantly increase your odds of being approved for licensure as a private investigator in West Virginia. The processing fee to apply for the license is $50, is non-refundable.

Additional fees are $150 for West Virginia residents and $550 for non-West Virginia residents for the actual licensing once your application is approved. Once the application is approved you must register a business in West Virginia as either a sole proprietor or corporation if you’ll be establishing your own agency.

49. Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin requires a license from the state’s License, Permit and Registration Services. Before individuals can apply for this license, they need to submit their fingerprints for a criminal background check.

In addition to your completed application and fingerprint documentation, you will be required to submit a release for Federal Bureau of Investigation information, a color photograph of your face, and a conviction/pending charges form.

50. Wyoming

Interestingly, Wyoming is one of the few states that does not require a license to start work as a private investigator or private detective.

Please be informed that you are required to obtain license at a local level if you want to work as a private investigator in Wyoming hence you can visit the nearest local authority for enquiries in how to go about it.

Ajaero Tony Martins