Frequently Asked Questions - Private Investigator (PI)
- 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.
The Private Investigator license becomes delinquent 30 days after expiration.
If after three years you fail to renew a delinquent license, you must submit a new application and begin the application process again.
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.
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.
Approximately four to six weeks.
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 license.
Yes. A Private Investigator may carry a concealed weapon on duty if he/she also has a BSIS exposed firearms permit, and possesses a concealed weapons permit issued by local law enforcement.
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 a firearm.
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 to investigate.
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.
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 employer.
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.
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 citizen's arrests.
No. An unlicensed person may not use any form of identification which gives the impression that he/she may be licensed.
The name, addresses, and license number of the licensee as they appear in the Bureau's records.
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.
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 claimed 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.
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.
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.
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.
No. A Private Investigator may not enter any private building without owner's consent.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. You must report the conviction.
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.