Private Detective Notes

It is unlawful to act as a private detective for hire or reward without first obtaining a license. (22 P.S. §13)

Application for License

Any person, partnership, association or corporation shall file, in Office of the Clerk of Courts of the county where the principal office of such business is located, a written application, duly signed and verified. (See 22 P.S. §§3 and 14 for all types of businesses and enterprises that fall under this requirement.)

Each person or individual signing such application shall, together with such application, submit to the court two photographs, in duplicate, in passport size, and also fingerprints of his two hands, recorded in such manner as may be specified by the court.
(1) Applicable filing fee.
(2) The blank fingerprint cards shall be provided by the Clerk of Courts and shall be imprinted with the Clerk of Court’s ORI number. These are available through the Pennsylvania State Police.
(3) The Pennsylvania State Police has received authorization to collect a fee of $17.50 for processing fingerprint cards for private detective license applicants and those individuals applying for employment with a private detective/security agency. Therefore, effective July 1, 1992 the required fee must be attached to the fingerprint cards in the form of a check/money order payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and submitted in the envelope provided by the Pennsylvania State Police. Questions concerning this matter may be directed to Pennsylvania State Police (717-783-5592).
Before approving such application, it shall be the duty of the court to compare such fingerprints with fingerprints of criminals now or hereafter filed in the records of the Pennsylvania State Police.
(1) One copy of fingerprints shall be forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Police Records and Identification Division by the Clerk of Courts and on copy retained with the file.
Every applicant shall establish, to the satisfaction of the court and by at least two duly acknowledged certificates that such applicant, if he be a person, or, in the case of a partnership, association, or corporation, at least one member of such partnership, association or corporation, has been regularly employed as a detective, or has been a member of the United States government investigative service, a sheriff, a member of the Pennsylvania State Police, or a member of a city police department of a rank or grade higher that of patrolman, for a period of not less than three years.
The application shall be approved as to each person or individual so signing the same by not less than five reputable citizens of the community in which such applicant resides or transacts business, or in which it is proposed to own, conduct, manage, or maintain the bureau, agency, sub-agency, office or branch office for which the license is desired. The certificate of approval shall be signed by such reputable citizens and duly verified and acknowledged by them before a notary public.

Refund of Fees​
Under special circumstances (as specified in 22 P.S. §17) monies may be refunded to the person entitled thereto upon approval by the court.

License, Certificates, Pocket Cards, Shields or Badges
Upon the issuing of a license as hereinbefore provided, the court shall issue to each person, individual member of a partnership or association, or officer of a corporation making and filing a statement required above, a pocket card of such size and design as such court may prescribe, which card shall contain a photograph of the licensee, the name and business address of the licensee, and the imprint or impress of the seal of the court, and also a metal shield or badge, of such shape and description and bearing such inscription as the court may designate. 

More Information
For more complete information go to or call the Pennsylvania Association of Licensed Investigators at 1-610-388-9457.