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How to get a Private Investigator License in New York

Under Article 7 of the New York General Business Law, private investigators in the state must get licensed in order to offer their services in the state. Getting a New York private investigator license includes fulfilling several pre-licensing criteria, passing an exam, submitting a surety bond, and an application.

Read on for a full overview of the licensing process for private investigators in NY!

New York State Private Investigator License Requirements

To be eligible to apply for an investigator license from the New York State Division of Licensing Services, individuals must conform with several licensing requirements. At the minimum, an applicant must:

  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Be the principal in the business entity which will be licensed
  • Have passed an investigator examination no more than two years before applying for a license

Private investigator exams are held once or twice a month. The exam is a multiple choice test and applicants are given 2½ hours to complete the test. Areas covered by the test include: license, penal and criminal procedure law, investigative techniques and several other areas.

See the Examination Information and Schedule section at the Division's private investigator webpage for detailed information about the locations and dates of future exams.

On top of the above minimum requirements, applicants must also conform with experience requirements. Applicants must meet ONE of following requirements:

  • Have at least 3 years of full-time investigative experience as an employee of a licensed investigator or at a government investigative agency or police agency OR"equivalent experience" such as:
    • 3 years of full-time experience conducting investigations as a primary duty
    • 3 years of full-time experience as a supervisor of at least three people conducting investigations
    • 20 years of service as a police officer or fire marshall

Fingerprinting and Application

If you comply with all of the necessary requirements, you can proceed with getting your fingerprints taken, and completing your application form.

First, you must submit electronic fingerprints at an IdentoGO location near you. You will receive two receipts as proof of completing this requirement and must include one of them in your application. Note that these receipts are valid for 5 months! Make sure to submit your application within that period so as to avoid having to get your fingerprints taken again.

You can then proceed with completing and submitting your New York private investigator license application. You must attach the following forms and documents to your application prior to submitting it to the Division:

  • A DMV consent form
  • A $10,000 private investigator surety bond
  • One electronic fingerprinting receipt from IdentoGO
  • Proof of passing an investigator examination
  • Proof of qualifying experience from one individual in every business you have worked in

You must also pay the relevant licensing fees to the NYS Department of State when submitting your application in the form of a money order, company check or cashiers' check. Licensing fees for NY private investigators are $400 for an individual license and $500 for a corporate or business license. Branch office fees are $400 and $500 respectively.

Once you have completed all of the above requirements, you can submit your license to the Department and will be notified when your application is processed and reviewed. Licenses for private investigators in NY are issued for a term of two years.

Surety Bond Requirement

If you have never gotten bonded, you may be wondering about the $10,000 bond requirement. The bond amount for NY private investigators is $10,000 but this is different from the cost of getting bonded. To get bonded, you must pay a premium to the surety which issues your bond. The premium is determined by the surety mostly on the basis of your personal credit score and will be a fraction of the full amount of your bond.

Comments on Getting an NY Private Investigator License

Do you have any thoughts questions about the application process? Let us know in the comments! 


Todd Bryant

Todd Bryant is the president and founder of Bryant Surety Bonds. He is a surety bond expert with years of experience in helping business owners get bonded and start their business.


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