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Do Private Investigators Need a License?

The licensing of private investigators varies depending on the jurisdiction you're operating in. In the UK, licensing of private investigators is yet to become compulsory. However, it's still possible to get a license before practising private investigation. Many people actually opt to do this since it offers a number of advantages such as making your practice look more professional.

In any profession, licensing standards say a great deal about the operating standards. It's therefore important to know how the licensing requirements in the UK compare to the requirements for private investigator licensing in other parts of the world.


Private Investigator Licensing Requirements In The Uk

Licensing isn't a must for a private investigator in the UK. However, it's still important to familiarize yourself with the requirements just in case the laws change or in case you're considering becoming a licensed private investigator in the future.

What you need to get a private investigator license in the UK are:

  • Proof of completion of a test of competency such as an IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators
  • Passing the Fit and Proper person tests
  • Being 18 years or older
  • Having a legal right to work in the UK
  • The £220 needed to pay for the 3-year license

All licenses relating to the security industry in the UK are processed by the Security Industry Association or SIA. If your license application is turned down, you can appeal the decision.


Private Investigator Licensing Requirements In Other Parts Of The World

Licensing requirements around the world for private investigators range from stringent to nonexistent.

The US is a good example with some states only requiring a business license for you to run a private investigation practice while others e.g. California have very high requirements such as:

  • Three years of experience at the very least with 2000 billed hours (or a relevant degree + experience)
  • Passing a background check for criminal history
  • Passing a two-hour multiple-choice exam etc.

The licensing requirements may also be different for private investigators who want to operate their own agency rather than work as licensed private investigators in an already existing agency.

Licensing requirements in Australia are quite similar to what you find in the UK. The main difference is that licensing isn't optional for those who wish to work as private investigators.