Frequently asked questions: Private investigators

Licenses and exams

Where do I mail private investigator applications and forms?
  • Send all applications, forms, or documents that require payment to:
    Public Protection Services Section
    Department of Licensing
    PO Box 35001
    Seattle, WA 98124-3401
    We encourage companies to collect forms with payments and mail them together rather than mailing each form separately.
  • Send correspondence without payments to:
    Public Protection Services Section
    Department of Licensing
    PO Box 9649
    Olympia, WA 98507-9649

Please discard all old application and forms, and see Forms to get updated versions. If you have questions, please contact us.

How long will it take to receive my license?
It can take up to 20 days from the time we receive your completed application, fees, and fingerprint card. The process may take longer if you’re applying for an agency principal license or if Washington State Patrol rejects your fingerprints.
Where will I take the exam?
Exams are scheduled at driver’s licensing offices around the state. The exam will be mailed to the licensing office you chose on your application. After you take the exam, it will be returned to our office to be scored.
When will I get the results?
We’ll mail you a letter with your exam score approximately 10 days after you take your exam.
How often can I take the exam?
You must wait at least 7 working days between exams. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the exam.
How do I get re-scheduled if I don’t pass?
We’ll mail you a re-exam application with your results letter if you don’t pass. Complete and return the application with the fee to be re-scheduled. It costs $25 each time you re-exam.

Private investigator agencies

If I’m just working for myself and don’t want to hire employees, do I still have to get an agency license?
Yes. Anyone who works as a private investigator must be licensed either as a private investigator agency principal, or as a private investigator licensed under an agency.
How do my employees get licensed?
Once your agency is licensed, you can submit applications for your employees. They’re required to complete 4 hours of pre-assignment training from a licensed certified trainer. The certified trainer signs the certification box on the front of the unarmed private investigator application after the training is complete.
Can I have a certified trainer from another agency give my employees the training?
Yes, if they’re currently employed and hold a valid private investigator certified trainer’s license.

Certified trainers

How do I become a certified trainer?
Once you’re licensed and have at least 3 years of compensated investigative experience, submit a certified trainer exam application with the $25 exam fee. A passing score of 90% will qualify you to become a certified trainer.
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