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Private Investigator Licensing

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How to obtain a license to be a private investigator in Australia?

Licenses for private investigators are generally issued and administered by police services in conjunction with courts in most states, however, in some states or territories of Australia this is managed by other government agencies.

Shown below is information regarding relevant licensing authorities. Check with them as to eligibility and procedure. In most instances the issue of a license is directly dependent to undertaking specific courses run by TAFE or private training organisations (RTOs). The rules are quite different from state to state in Australia.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT does not yet require private investigators to be licensed, however, plans are underway toward licensing. However, in reality, insurance companies and other organisations prefer to deal with licensed private investigators and therefore it is recommended to obtain a license under NSW legislation.

New South Wales

Private investigators in NSW operate under the new Commercial Agents and Private Inquiry Agents Act 2004 (CAPI)

If you are contemplating applying for a licence, take the time to consider the licensing requirement which are very comprehensive.

What about a criminal record? Lots of people are asking whether one can become a PI despite a criminal record. The NSW Police website states in this regard:

What offences disqualify you from holding a licence?

The following offences are grounds for mandatory refusal of an application for a CAPI licence (including a Master licence) if the applicant (or close associate in the case of a Master Licence) was convicted within the last ten years or found guilty (with no conviction recorded) within the last 5 years of:

  • Offences involving violence, fraud, dishonesty or theft, being an offence punishable by imprisonment
  • Offences involving the unlawful possession or use of a firearm or other weapon
  • Offences involving the unlawful possession or use of a drug
  • Offences under Part 2 of the Listening Devices Act 1984, or under corresponding provisions of the law of the Commonwealth or of another State or Territory Offences under the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 of the Commonwealth
  • In the case of a Master licence holder, an application may also be refused if the licence holder, close associates or company named on the application has been found guilty of any of the above offences.

The NSW Police CAPI section on their website has a great FAQ which will probably answer most your questions.

Northern Territory

Private investigators obtain licences from the local courts under the Commercial and Private Agents Licensing Act 1979. The applicant must be at least 18 years old, not a bankrupt and there are provisions for other persons to object to an application. Administration of licences is carried out by the Northern Territory Department of Justice.

Currently it there is no requirement in the NT to undertake a training course to be eligible for a licence.

For more info contact:

Consumer and Business


GPO Box 1722 Darwin, NT, 0801

Telephone: (08) 8935 7777


Private investigators in Queensland operate under Security Providers Act (1993) and licences are administered by the Office of Fair Trading (QLD). It defines eligibility criteria:

1. Minimum 18 years of age

2. Successful completion of a training course approved by the OFT

3. Must be an appropriate person to hold the licence;

You should contact the Office of Fair Trading in Queensland for precise information.

Licensing information and licence applications are handled by the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney General.

South Australia

Private investigators in South Australia hold a Private Agents licenses administered by the Office of Consumer & Business Affairs, under the Security and Investigation Agents Act (1995).

The OBCA is unique in providing ample information about licensing eligibility at their website or contact Business & Occupational Services, Office of Consumer and Business Affairs, Level 3 Chesser House, 91-97 Grenfell Street, Adelaide.


Private investigators operate under the Commercial and Inquiry Agents Act 1974 and applicants for a licence must submit to bankruptcy and police searches, advertise their application in the paper and go before the Tasmanian Magistrates Court. New legislation is pending whereby the Consumer Affairs Office will oversee the licensing and training course requirements which are expected to be introduced.

Detailed information including application forms are available at Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading website.


Private investigators in Victoria are known as Private Investigators and are licensed through the Licensing Services Division (LSD) which is administered by Victoria Police under the The Private Security Act 2004.

Licensing requirements:

  • Investigator applicants must complete the appropriate training for the activity of investigator
  • Probity requirements (criminal history check) must be fulfilled. Certain offences prohibit persons from obtaining a licence
  • Conditions may be placed on licences. Conditions may relate to training, supervision or case-by-case circumstances
  • Arrangements have been made to assist with the transition for current licence holders to meet new licensing and training requirements

Licensing Services Division

Level 4, Yarra Tower (Building D)

Victoria Police Centre

637 Flinders Street Melbourne 3005

Postal: GPO Box 2807 Melbourne, VIC, 3001

Phone: 1300 651 645 Fax: (03) 9247 6485

Western Australia

Private investigators in Western Australia are licensed by the Western Australian Police Service under the Security and Related Activities (Control) Act (1996).

Two types of licences are available:

  • Inquiry Agent - A person who can engage investigators to carry out the investigations, but may not carry out the work themselves unless they are also a licensed investigator;
  • Investigator - A person who is engaged by an Inquiry Agent to carry out investigations.
  • A little like the relationship between solicitors and barristers. You should find out precise information from the Commercial Agents Squad, 297 Hay St, East Perth WA 6004.

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