Become a Licensed Private Investigator in California

Requirements for Licensure

A private investigator is an individual who amongst other duties (1) investigates crimes, california-bureau-of-security-and-investigative-services(2) investigates the identity, business, occupation, character, etc., of a person, (3) investigates the location of lost or stolen property, (4) investigates the cause of fires, losses, accidents, damage or injury, or (5) secures evidence for use in court. Private investigators may protect persons only if such services are incidental to an investigation; they may not protect property. An individual, partnership, or corporation licensed as a private investigator may employ a qualified manager to manage the business on a day-to-day basis. To be eligible to apply for licensure as a private investigator/qualified manager, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18 or older.
  • Undergo a criminal history background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  • Have at least three years (2,000 hours each year, totaling 6,000 hours) of compensated experience in investigative work;


  • have a law degree or completed a four-year course in police science plus two years (4,000 hours) of experience;


  • have an associate’s degree in police science, criminal law, or justice and 2 ½ years (5,000 hours) of experience.

Note: Experience must be certified by your employer and have been received while you were employed as a sworn law enforcement officer, military police officer, insurance adjuster, employee of a licensed PI or licensed repossessor, arson investigator for a public fire suppression agency, or an investigator for the public defender’s office. (Work as a process server, public records researcher, custodial attendant for a law enforcement agency, bailiff, agent who collects debts in writing or by telephone after the debtor has been located, or person who repossesses property after it has been located is not considered qualifying experience.)

  • Pass a two-hour multiple-choice examination covering laws and regulations, terminology, civil and criminal liability, evidence handling, undercover investigations and surveillance. A copy of the Private Investigator Act will be sent to you; and,
  • Upon notification that you have passed the examination, you must submit a licensing fee to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, P.O. Box 989002, West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002.

To apply for a Private Investigator license, submit:

How to submit your application:

  • Online through BreEZe: The Bureau recommends submitting and paying for your application online as it bypasses the Cashiering Office, which can reduce the processing time by up to two weeks.
  • By mail: submit all required documents and payment to:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
P.O. Box 989002
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

Firearm Permit

When working as a private investigator/qualified manager, you may not carry a gun on duty without a valid firearm permit issued by the Bureau or a screen print of the Bureau’s approval obtained from the Bureau’s web site. Also, a firearm permit issued by the Bureau does not authorize you to carry a concealed weapon. You may notcarry a concealed weapon on duty without a Concealed Weapons Permit (CCW) issued by local authorities, nor carry a caliber handgun not listed on your firearm permit.

To apply for a firearm permit, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or have permanent legal alien status.
  • Pass a course in the Power to Arrest. The eight-hour training covers responsibilities and ethics in citizen arrest, relationship with police, limitations on Power to Arrest, restrictions on searches and seizures, criminal and civil liabilities, terrorism, code of ethics and personal and employer liability and other relevant topics.
  • A course in the carrying and use of firearms. The 14-hour (8 hours classroom, 6 hours range) training course covers moral and legal aspects, firearms nomenclature, weapons handling and shooting fundamentals, emergency procedures and range training. The course must be given by a Bureau-certified firearms training instructor at a Bureau-certified training facility. Written and range exams are administered at the end of the course. Costs of training are determined by the training facility.
  • Submit a firearm permit application, the application fee, and a Private Investigator License w/Firearm Permit Live Scan form signed by the Live Scan Operator. A $38 Firearm Eligibility application, $32 DOJ fingerprint processing fee and $17 FBI fingerprint processing fee must be paid for each applicant at the Live Scan site.

How to submit your application:

  • By mail: submit all required documents and payment to:

    Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
    P.O. Box 989002
    West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

  • Click here to see the Bureau’s fees

Note: A firearms qualification card expires two years from the date of issuance. An applicant must requalify four times during the life of the permit: twice during the first year after the date of issuance, and twice during the second year. Requalifications must be at least four months apart.

Insurance Requirements

Private Investigators that are 1) not organized as an LLC and 2) who carry a firearm and 3) provide armed bodyguard services incidental to an investigation for which the Private Investigator has been previously hired to perform are required to carry commercial general liability policy of insurance issued by an insurance company authorized to transact business in California that provides minimum limits of insurance of one million dollars ($1,000,000) for any one loss or occurrence due to bodily injury, including death, or property damage, or both.

Private Investigators organized as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) must maintain a policy or policies of insurance against liability claims for acts, errors, or omissions arising out of the private investigator services it provides. For an LLC with five or fewer managing members, the aggregate liability limit shall not be less than one million dollars ($1,000,000). For an LLC with more than five managing members, an additional one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) of insurance must be obtained for each person named as a managing member not to exceed five million dollars ($5,000,000) in any one designated period.

For additional information, on reporting requirements for PIs organized as an LLC, including submission instructions, visit the Private Investigators Organized as Limited Liability Company webpage.

Source: Bureau of Security of Investigative Services

Private Investigators

Finding evidence to protect you, your family and your business.

If you feel you need a private investigator, then you have a serious personal or business issue that requires expert assistance. Private investigators find evicence and information that may protect you, your family or your business.

A professional private investigator is licensed, has extensive experience, abides the law, advises you on your situation (without any interest for themselves), and explains what they can and cannot do to help you. And they should always give you a free consultation.


When choosing a private investigator, ask the right questions.

Whether or not you choose Jermaine A. Hopkins ask the right questions so you can hire a private investigator worth his or her salt.

Questions to ask potential private investigators:

Is the private investigator licensed?

California is one of the more demanding states with regard to the requirements for private investigators. Currently California requires the following to become a private investigator: A criminal history background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ), 6,000 hours of field work and the passing of a California administered test.

Jermaine A. Hopkins operates under Bureau of Security and Investigative Services license no. PI188325.

Does the private investigator have a background in law enforcement?

A good private investigator in California will have a background in some sort of law enforcement and have many years of professional private investigation experience. Find out.

Jermaine possesses over eighteen years of investigative experience, including fourteen years of law enforcement experience.

Can the private investigator testify in a court of law?

In the litigious state of California, a good private investigator will know the system and how to work within it.

Investigations should not only yield court-admissible evidence but your investigator should also be able and ready to testify in support of this evidence. Many private investigators do not have this experience or background.

Jermaine A. Hopkins locates and collects court-admissible evidence and has been qualified as an expert in a court of law.

Does the private investigator clearly define the fees involved?

When you contact a private investigator, explain the service you would like performed and ask how much it will cost.

A professional private investigator will provide an accurate estimate and will not exceed the quote without your approval. Your first conversation with any reputable private investigator should always be at no charge.

Jermaine A. Hopkins will always provide you with an estimate upon our first conversation.  All consultations remain free and confidential.

Get a free consultation.

Do you have a good gut-feeling about the private investigator?

Private investigators know that very often your intuition is correct. When you speak for the first time, ask yourself if you feel a good about it. What is your immediate gut reaction?

Make sure the private investigator thoroughly understands your situation and that you feel comfortable. You should feel he/she is looking out for your best interests. Your needs should always come before money.

We help you with the next steps.

After you find out the truth, no matter what the outcome is – we can help you with the next steps.

Friendly. Approachable.

The idea of calling a private investigator can be intimidating. You will find us friendly and down-to-earth.

Referrals to trusted experts.

We’ve built a solid network of trusted attorneys and other professionals – in Northern California and nationwide.