Apply for a firm license if you plan to employ or allow anyone to help you perform investigations. Your firm may be a sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership or voluntary association.
Organize your company in West Virginia or get an out-of-state (foreign) company authorized by registering with the Business Division. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships register through the State Tax Department. All other entity types register through the Secretary of State. A certificate of good standing from your home state will be required with your business registration if the company is an entity from another state. Registration of your business is a separate registration from your Private Investigation firm license and may be filed online through One Stop Business Portal.
Complete the application form and follow the instructions for the fingerprint requirement. Use one of the following methods:
Download the application form,
Request the application packet by e-mail at email@example.com or
Call (304) 558-8000 to request an application packet with the correct fingerprint instructions.
The online form requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can fill it out on screen, then print. If you start with a printed form, please type or print in ink and make certain every entry is legible.
Make sure the qualifying agent (the person who is eligible to be licensed as a private investigator and who will be responsible for the operation of the investigations of the firm) completes the private investigator license application.
Complete the firm application, including the list of employees (include only those employees who will conduct investigations in West Virginia). Each officer of a corporation or voluntary association, member of a limited liability company, or partner of a partnership must sign the application.
Get the two required photographs for the qualifying agent, and for each officer, member or partner, taken within the last year. Have passport size color photos taken by a photographer. A colored background, such as light blue or gray, works best. Attach two photos to the application for the qualifying agent and one for each officer, member or partner.
Also, photographs of each employee who will conduct investigations under the firm's license must be on file at your firm's main office throughout the year.
Find a surety company authorized to do business in West Virginia who will agree to issue a surety bond in the amount of $2,500 naming the firm as principal. Take the surety bond form and instructions (included in the application) to the agent representing that company. If your firm is a corporation, the president or vice-president is required to sign the bond and have that signature notarized, unless a corporate resolution authorizing someone else to sign is attached, and a corporate seal must be attached if applicable. The surety agent's signature must be notarized, and a power of attorney must be attached.
Provide five character references. For the qualifying agent, and for each officer, member or partner, provide a blank character reference letter form (included in the application) to five reputable citizens who have known the individual for whom the reference is given for five years and who are not related to that individual by blood or marriage. Ask each person to complete and sign the reference and return it to you. DO NOT mail or deliver the firm application until you have five completed references for each individual.
Provide copies of the documentation proving that the qualifying agent has met the training and/or experience requirements. Documentation may include:
Pay the fee. A $50 non-refundable application processing fee is included in the fee. If your license is denied, the remainder will be refunded. The license is valid for one year.
Submit your application, photographs, references, surety bond, documentation of qualifications and fee to:
Contact the Licensing Division for further assistance regarding Private Investigator and/or Security Guard licensing.
If we may be of any further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us: 304.558.8000 toll free 866.767.8683 email: InvestigationSupport@wvsos.gov