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How Much Should a New Licensed Private Investigator Charge Hourly?

Licensing creates a big difference in the practice of a private investigator. Not only is the investigator expected to carry themselves in a more professional fashion, they're also expected to charge a rate that is in line with their status as professionals. This fee can be higher than what an unlicensed investigator will charge.

It may seem unnecessary to charge higher fees just because one has an investigator's license. However, this should be expected because carrying out your business as a professional can be more expensive.

For starters, as a professional, you'll not be expected to cut any corners. The quality of your work, equipment and reports will also be expected to be higher. Unless some of these costs can be offset, your business may not survive.

The Cost Of Your Private Investigator License

Private investigator licenses are issued by the SIA who have a standard cost for all their license which is £220. For this fee, you get a three-year license. Once this duration expires you'll have to reapply for a new license at the same cost. Be advised that the renewal will cost the same amount.

Licensing Laws For Private Investigators In The Uk

The UK law that has the provision for licensing of private investigators within the region is the Private Securities Act of 2001. This law was passed to establish the SIA which was meant to provide government oversight for the private security industry.

The same law created the provision that allowed licensing of private investigators to be possible. However, the law didn't make the licensing of investigators mandatory. As a result, licensing is still optional for private detectives.

Cost Of Services From Licensed Private Investigators

Although it's expected that a licensed private investigator will cost more, as a private investigator, you shouldn't use this as an opportunity to charge the highest possible figure for your services. If anything, you should use this opportunity to ensure your pricing structure is fair and professional. This means that as a licensed professional, the cost of your services should offer a fair reflection of the real costs of carrying out an investigation along with a fair profit margin.

On average, the cost of private investigator services from licensed investigators range as follows:

  • Missing person tracing: A flat fee of £150 - £350
  • Surveillance: Charged hourly at £45 to £75 per hour
  • Background check: £45 to £75 per hour
  • Process serving: Flat fee of £85 - £150
  • GPS Tracking: Flat fee of £200 - £800 depending on nature of tracking i.e. live or historical

There are additional costs that are expected to come with offering these services such as mileage, accommodation and minor disbursements. As a licensed professional, you should ensure that you're upfront about these costs and you should also keep them reasonably low to avoid blindsiding the client. At the end of the day, a client will be more likely to recommend you to others in the future if they believe they were offered good services and charged fairly. For a licensed private investigator, such recommendations can be a vital source of income.

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