Get your license: Private investigative agencies

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

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.

Apply online

Submit your application by mail


Mail your completed forms, required documents, and a check or money order for the license fee and applicable business licensing fees (payable to the Department of Licensing) to:

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.

Get email updates

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest rule changes and licensing updates by email.

Need additional help? Here's how to contact us:

call Phone: 360-705-6741
(TTY: Call 711)
mail Email:
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