Private Investigator Licensing Requirements in Washington State

When it comes to licensing in Washington state to become a private investigator Washington does their due diligence in making sure someone either knows the laws or has experience to be doing the job.

Unarmed Private Investigator

To become a unarmed private investigator in the state of Washington you must apply to and receive an employment offer from a private investigation agency.

The General Requirements to become licensed are the following:

  • All individual unarmed private investigators must be:
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be a United States citizen or resident alien.
  • You must have no criminal convictions that directly relate to your capacity to perform the duties of a private investigator and/or hinders public safety.
  • You must complete the pre-assignment training requirements.

How to Apply

You must submit:

A completed Private Investigator License Application.

The non-refundable application fee (check or money order payable to the Department of Licensing).  As of 2015 this fee was $200.00.

1 completed fingerprint card.  Electronic finger printing is recommended as there is less of a chance that the prints will be rejected from the state.

Please note that you will be required to take a 4 hour pre-assignment training course by a licensed instructor.   Linda Montgomery with Linda Montgomery Investigations provides training classes for those wishing to be licensed in the state of Washington.   For more information visit her website at Linda Montgomery Investigations .

Private Investigation Agency License Requirements in Washington

If you decide that you want to start your own business the fee for an unarmed pricinpal license is $600.  If you decided you want to have an armed principal agency license it will run you $700. It won’t cost that much every year so don’t worry.  A license renewal each year thereafter is $350.

The requirement to be an agency owner in Washington are the following:

  • At least 18 years old if applying for an unarmed agency license
  • At least 21 years old if applying for an armed license
  • A United States citizen or resident alien.
  • You can not have the following:
  • Any criminal convictions that would relate to your ability to perform the duties of a private investigator or that would hinder the public’s safety.  Additional information here.

Applying for a Private Investigation Agency License

  • Fill out the business license application
  • Pay the application fee
  • Provide 1 completed fingerprint card
  • Proof of 3 years investigative experience. (before applying for the license)  You may want to call them to determine what they consider investigative experience.  If you don’t provide any experience then they will schedule you for an examination after recieving the paid application.
  • A certificate of liability insurance with minimum coverage of $25,000 bodily injury and $25,000 property damage, or a $10,000 Private Investigative Surety Bond.

(I recommend a minimum of $1,000,000 in errors and omissions insurance for this state or any state).

If a corporation they will need a copy of the companies articles of incorporation and and list of officers/departments and addresses for each.

The Agency Test

I never had to take this test as I began working in the state of Washington under another companies license before getting my own agency license.

The Washington state department of licensing has provided a link to the resources that will need  to be studied and the percentage of questions asked in the test.

The Washington state exam study resources can be found by clicking here.


Washington State Department of Licensing