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How to Be a Licensed Private Investigator

The issue of private investigator licensing has elicited a certain amount of controversy in the past. Since private investigators in the UK don't have to be licensed, there are many unscrupulous individuals who operate in the industry and the work they do isn't always governed by an ethical code. Because of this, there's a good chance that private investigator licenses will become mandatory in the future.

For now, however, licensing is still optional for private investigators. Despite this, there is still plenty of reason to opt for licensing.


Process Of Obtaining A Private Investigator License

Becoming a licensed private investigator is not too difficult at the moment. As long as you meet the requirements to be licensed, you just need to apply to the Security Industry Authority and once your details are confirmed and you've made the necessary payments, you'll get your license. The Security Industry Authority is the only licensing body for private investigators in the United Kingdom.

To get your SIA license for private investigators, you'll have to follow this process:

  • Set up an account on the SIA website
  • Log into the account and provide the required details
  • Send an application through the website
  • Send the additional information that is need via post office
  • Wait for a decision to be made on the status of your application (additional information may be requested at this point)
  • You'll be notified if your application is successful or unsuccessful. If successful, your license card will arrive in 14 days or less. If unsuccessful, you'll have 21 days to appeal before the decision is final.

What You Need To Get A Private Investigator License

The requirements to become a licensed private investigator in the UK are not too stringent. Therefore, although it's not a must to become licensed, the process is simple enough and the benefits can be significant.

When you apply for an SIA license for Private Investigators, the main things they'll check are:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You have a legal right to work in the UK
  • You have successfully completed an IQ Level 3 Award for Professional Investigators
  • You have passed the tests that verify you're a fit and proper person for the job

Tests to check whether you're 'fit and proper' will assess various things including your mental health and your criminal history if you have any. Apart from meeting these requirements, you'll also need to pay a £220 licensing fee. This covers a 3-year license and will have to be renewed once this period has elapsed.


Importance Of Becoming A Licensed Private Investigator

There is a huge difference between a licensed and an unlicensed private investigator. Unlicensed private investigators can start practicing without undergoing any training or checks while their licensed counterparts will have to receive the necessary training from accredited institutions and thereafter undergo various checks by the Security Industry Authority to ensure that they are right for the job before they receive a license. This means that licensed private investigators operate with a level of professionalism that unlicensed private investigators may not have.

For many clients, this offers them the security of knowing that they're dealing with a person who operates with certain ethical standards in place. This is why, despite the fact that it's not compulsory, licensing is still highly recommended for those who wish to become private investigators. If nothing else, it will ensure that you're ready when private investigator licensing becomes compulsory in the future.



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