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Become a Private Detective through Training and Certification in Virginia

In order to obtain a private detective license in Virginia you must the following requirements:

Learn the Basic Virginia Private Investigator License Eligibility Requirements
Get Fingerprinted and Complete the Initial Training Requirements in Virginia
Virginia Firearms Endorsement
Insurance, Bonding, and Additional Forms in Virginia
Continuing Education in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services oversees the private investigator verification and application process.

In the state of Virginia, a private investigator is defined as any of the following:

  • A person who performs the duties of a private investigator or advertises themselves as such
  • A person who investigates or agrees to investigate, on a contractual or employment basis, crimes or civil transgressions or the location of stolen property
  • A person who investigates the cause of accidents, fires, or other incidents (Materials collected during the course of a private investigation can be used as evidence in a hearing before a court, board, or any other kind of investigative or judicial committee.)
  • A person who provides personal protection services to another person or group, including protection from bodily harm and death

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Learn how to perform background investigations, operate surveillance equipment, and many other PI secrets through Penn Foster Career School's nationally accredited online Private Investigator training program. In less than three months, you can take the first step towards a career investigating missing persons cases, outing insurance fraudsters, handling cases related to marriage infidelity, and much more.

Request information to learn how Penn Foster Career School's distance learning program can quickly and conveniently help you begin your path towards a career in private investigation.



Step 1. Learn the Basic Virginia Private Investigator License Eligibility Requirements

In order to become a private investigator in the state of Virginia, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You must achieve successful completion of all precursory training requirements for applicable registration categories.
  • Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States.



Step 2. Get Fingerprinted and Complete the Initial Training Requirements

The initial training requirements to become a private investigator in the state of Virginia include 60 hours of entry level training which involves the following topics:

Orientation – The orientation section includes information on applicable Virginia codes, ethics and signs of terrorism.

Law – The law section includes the topics of basic law, criminal and civil law, evidence and privacy.

General investigative skills – The General investigative skills section includes the topics of surveillance, research, interviewing, and more.

Documentation – The documentation section includes the topics of photography, audio recording, courtroom testimony and general communications.

Types of investigations – The types of investigations sections includes the topics of accident, insurance, background, as well as fraud and financial.

Note: The topics of law, general investigative skills, documentation, and types of investigations all include a practical exercise, which does not count toward the required 60 hours.

Applicants must submit an initial registration application form along with the nonrefundable application fee and a completed fingerprint card.

The fingerprint processing application also must be submitted along with the applicable processing fee.

Exam – The Virginia licensing exam must be taken and successfully passed before you can become licensed.  Your training course will provide you with instructions on how to enroll for the exam when you are nearing completion.



Step 3. Firearms Endorsement (optional)

The firearms endorsement requirements must be completed for those applicants who plan to carry or have access to a firearm for the purposes of their private investigation duties.

The Firearms Endorsement page of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services has more information including the various types of firearms that are permissible and the requirements for each.



Step 4. Insurance, Bonding, and Additional Required Forms

Virginia requires all private investigator firms to carry a surety bond in the minimum of amount of $100,000. This requirement only applies to those wishing to establish a company, not to individual private investigators. $300,000 in liability insurance is also required of private investigator firms.

Applicants who are already registered with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services but who want to include additional categories on their registration are required to complete an Additional Registration Category mandate. Information for additional categories can be found on the Additional Registration Category page.

Applicants who have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor with the exception of minor traffic violations (i.e. speeding, parking tickets, etc.) in the state of Virginia are required to fill out and submit a Criminal History Supplemental Form which can be found on the Criminal History page. This requirement also applies to those who have been the subject of military court martial.



Step 5. Continuing Education

Your private investigator’s license will be valid for 24 months from the date of issue.  In order to renew the license you must be able to prove that you have completed at least 8 hours of state sanctioned continuing education (CE). Here is a list that the state has furnished of CE courses.

Also, you may wish to join the Private Investigators Association of Virginia to keep up with industry news and continuing education opportunities.

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