Learn how to get a license to operate a private investigation agency.
Who needs a license?
Any business that:
- Provides investigation, escort, or bodyguard services
- Performs property loss prevention activities
How to apply
Follow the steps below to get your private investigative agency license.
1. Meet the requirements
- All agency owners, partners, or qualifying agents must be:
- At least 18 years old, if applying for unarmed license
- At least 21 years old, if applying for armed license
- A United States citizen or resident alien
- The agency principal must have:
- No convictions that directly relate to your capacity to perform the duties of a private investigator and/or hinders public safety. Read more conviction information.
- The business must have a physical location in Washington
2. Submit fingerprints
Submit your fingerprints for state and national background checks.
- Inside Washington: Schedule an appointment through Identogo, our electronic fingerprinting vendor. You'll pay a fee for the fingerprinting service and background checks required for your license type.
- Outside Washington: Contact your local law enforcement agency to complete the fingerprint submission process. For more details, see Fingerprinting and background checks.
3. Gather required documents
- Written certification of 3 years of investigative experience per the Private investigator agency license—Requirements, restrictions—Assignment or transfer (RCW 18.165.050) performed prior to applying for the license or passed exam
- Proof of financial guarantee:
- Certificate of liability insurance with minimum coverage of $25,000 bodily injury and $25,000 property damage or
- $10,000 Private Investigative Agency Surety Bond
- Payment for the private investigative agency license fee and applicable business licensing fees
4. Submit your application
You can apply online or by mail.
We issue this license, but it's processed by the Department of Revenue and is printed on the business license they provide. It's considered an endorsement to your business license.
Submit your application online
You'll receive your license faster by applying and paying online.
Submit your application by mail
- Business License Application
- Business License Application Supplemental for private investigative agency/Principal License
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
For veterans, military personnel, and partners
Your military experience or training might help you meet licensing requirements. You may also be able to get a temporary license if you're moving here with a current license from another state. Learn more about using your military training to meet professional license requirements.
If you're a U.S. veteran, you may be eligible for partial reimbursement of your fees. Learn more about getting reimbursed for fees.
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