How to Become a Private Investigator in Canada in 3 Steps

Learn more about the requirements and steps to become a private investigator in Canada.

If you want to become a private investigator in Canada, you have come to the right place! Basically, you’ll need to complete the required training, obtain a license, and gain experience.

In short, in order to work as a private investigator in Canada, you must first obtain a PI license in each Canadian province. It’s not as difficult as you may think. Once you have obtained a full Private Investigator license in one province, you can use that license to obtain further provincial Private Investigator licenses and avoid the requirements of each province.

In addition to licensing requirements, there’s that Act establishes the rules and regulations for private investigators, as well as a Code of Conduct. As of January 2017, Ontario province had over 2,200 licensed private investigators.

Thus, to become a licensed private investigator, it is important to receive the appropriate training. Please read on to find out the steps you should take in your province, as well as the job prospects, salaries, duties and much more!

Who is a Private Investigator?

A Private Investigator (PI), also known as a private detective, or inquiry agent is a person who can be engaged by individuals, groups, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to perform investigative law services. In both civil and criminal cases, private investigators are frequently hired by attorneys.

Similarly, many private investigators/detectives with unique academic and practical experience, sometimes, work with defence attorneys on death sentences and other criminal defence matters. While, other Insurance investigators, for example, look into dubious claims.

In some cases, Private Investigator can do due diligence for an investor considering investing with a high-risk investment group, fund manager, or other high-risk business or investment ventures. This may assist the potential investor in avoiding becoming a victim of a Ponzi scheme or fraud.

Who can become a private investigator in Canada?

To be eligible to become a private investigator in Canada, you must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be eligible to work in Canada
  • Have a clean criminal record

What does a Private Investigator do in Canada?

As a private investigator you investigate things like:

  • accidents and personal injury
  • damaged or stolen property
  • backgrounds and whereabouts of people
  • investigate organizations
  • collect information
  • interview people
  • conduct surveillance
  • obtain statements
  • research reports or records

Duties and Responsibilities of a Private Investigator

Following appropriate training, a good all-around Private investigator is expected to undertake a number of duties, which may include:

  • organizing and conducting criminal and civil investigations, including interviewing witnesses and/or victims.
  • location of assets, information and persons.
  • evidence gathering in support of legal and other processes.

Steps to Become a Private Investigator in Canada

To become a licensed private investigator, a person must complete three steps after meeting the eligibility requirements stated above in this article:

1. Basic training course

First and foremost, get some basic training to become a PI. Basic training courses must be at least 50 hours long and adhere to MCSCS requirements. A variety of organizations, including universities, colleges, and certified private investigation firms, offer basic training courses.

It’s also important to confirm or be sure that the institution is MCSCS-approved so that you can apply for your license once the course is completed.

The basic training course is available in a classroom setting as well as online. A list of approved course providers can be found on the MCSCS website.

Subsequently, the applicant will receive a certificate of completion after successfully completing the basic training course. The certificate includes a completion number that must be entered into ServiceOntario in order to arrange the licensing exam.

2. Licensing examination

Basically, applicants are assessed and verified through the Licence exam to ensure that they comprehend the materials covered in the basic training course.

The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. Exam results are normally available within two days of taking the exam. Exam results are usually accessible two days after the exam is taken. In addition, the exam is conducted through the MCSCS testing provider, Serco, which is held at DriveTest locations across Ontario. For more information and a list of testing locations, go to

3. Apply for a private investigator licence

You can apply for your private investigator license after completing the basic training course and passing the exam. ServiceOntario, either by mail or online, accepts applications.

ServiceOntario is obligated to acquire personal information about you in order to process your application and add the necessary details to your private investigator’s license. Your name, address, and testing completion number are all included.

You must additionally provide the following items in addition to the completed application form:

  • a passport-quality photo.
  • photo photocopy of two (2) valid identity documents.
  • a completed Guarantor Information Form (front and back).
  • application fee.

Your application could take up to ten days to be approved. In many circumstances, you’ll be able to get your license in digital form, which will be given to you as soon as your application is granted. Your print edition may take up to 8 weeks to arrive in the mail.

Likewise, you must keep your driver’s license on you at all times while on duty and show it to anyone who requests it.

Why is it necessary for private investigators to be licensed?

Obtaining a license necessitates a thorough understanding of the legal aspects of the job and ensures that private investigators are committed to following the law.

Additionally, studying the industry’s laws and regulations, which are essential for licensure, will help private investigators avoid breaking the law and being charged with an offence while performing their duties.

How much does it cost to become a private investigator?

To become a private investigator and receive a private investigator license, you must pay the following fees:

  • The cost of a basic training course ranges from $250 to $500. The cost of the course varies based on the instructor and the company that provides it.
  • Exam fee $75.15 (includes HST).
  • The fee for the license is $80.00.

Is it necessary for me to renew my private investigator’s license?

A private investigator’s license in Ontario must be renewed every two years. It will be valid for two birthdays after the date of issue. To continue working as a private investigator lawfully, it must be renewed at least 30 days before it expires.

You must submit an application through ServiceOntario to renew or restore a license that has expired. It’s the same program that’s used to get a new driver’s license.

It’s worth noting that in Ontario, the testing required for acquiring a private investigator license went into force in 2010. Therefore, if your license expired prior to 2010, and you have not yet taken a private investigator exam, you will be forced to take one before applying to renew your license.

Licensing for Private Investigation Agencies in Canada

In comparison to applicants requesting an individual license, a business providing private investigative services has different licensing criteria. Agencies are referred to as “licensed business entities” under the Act.

Depending on the legal type of the organization (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation), businesses asking for a private investigation license must produce additional papers. This could involve the following:

  • a signed partnership agreement (if applicable)
  • consenting to a background check for the sole proprietor or each officer, director, and partner of the agency for new agency applications,
  • a valid certificate of general liability insurance must be submitted within 30 days of application approval (in principle).
  • a master license for business (if applicable)

If an agency’s application is approved, a Compliance Inspector will contact it within 30 days to schedule an inspection to ensure that it properly understands its responsibilities under the Act.

Furthermore, for an agency license, the application procedure and fees will be different. However, agency licenses must be renewed every two years, just like individual licenses. Visit the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for further information (MCSCS).

Employer Registration Process with the MCSCS

An agency must register as an employer with the MCSCS online at ServiceOntario after getting its license.

Also, each employee working for the agency as a private investigator must have their identities, individual license numbers, and license types registered. Registrations are only good for one year and must be renewed through ServiceOntario on an annual basis.

Certainly, this information is added to the MCSCS online Private Security and Investigative Services Licence Registry, which allows individuals to look up information about a person’s or agency’s license status.

How to Become a Model in Canada

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some frequently asked questions about becoming a private investigator in Canada:

Can I continue to work if my private investigator license expires?

If you work as a private investigator while your license is expired, you could be prosecuted with a breach of the Act and face a fine of up to $25,000, a year in prison, or both if convicted.

How much does it cost to become a private investigator in Ontario?

It usually costs $279.00. You will be able to take the Ontario Private Investigator Exam after successfully completing the course and meeting the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ standards. We’ll get you registered with the Ministry and give you the license number you’ll need to schedule your test.

What is a private investigator authorized to do in Ontario?

Private investigators have the legal authority to conduct video and audio surveillance in any public place, at any time of day or night, and to collect photographic or video evidence of the person of interest without their consent.

Do I still need an Ontario private investigator license if I have a license from another province?

Absolutely Yes! Even if you have a valid private investigator license from another province or territory in Canada, you must obtain an Ontario license in order to lawfully practice in Ontario.

If you received your license after successfully completing training and/or testing, you may be exempt from doing the basic training course and passing the exam in Ontario. Contact ServiceOntario’s Occupational Licensing Services Office to see if you are exempt from these requirements.


Conclusively, if you are looking at working as a Private investigator in Canada, you will need to be trained and duly licensed. In reality, acquiring a license necessitates a full awareness of the legal implications of the employment, as well as a commitment to upholding the law while on the job. We hope you’ve found this tutorial to be useful.