Apply for an individual license only if you plan to perform investigations on your own and under your own name. You could also work in association with another West Virginia licensed private investigator, but you may not employ or allow any other person to assist with investigations without obtaining a firm license.
Follow these steps:
Decide the type of business structure you plan to use to operate your private investigation business. Registration of your business structure is a separate registration from your Private Investigator license and may be filed online through the One Stop Business Portal.
If you will be a sole proprietorship, you may want to wait to apply for the business registration certificate with the State Tax Department until after your private investigator license is approved.
If you prefer to establish a legal entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC)), you should at least file a Name Reservation (Form NR-1) to reserve the business name through the Secretary of State before you apply for a license to make sure the name on your license application and the name under which you will do business are the same.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or
Call (304) 558-8000 to request an application packet with the correct fingerprint instructions.
Get the two required photographs taken within the last year. You should have passport size color photos taken by a photographer. A colored background, such as light blue or gray, works best. Attach two photos to your application.
Find a surety company authorized to do business in West Virginia who will agree to issue a surety bond of $2,500 naming you, the applicant, as principal. Take the surety bond form and instructions (included in the application) to the agent representing that company. Your signature as principal must be notarized. The agent's signature must be notarized, and a power of attorney must be attached.
Provide five character references. Provide a blank character reference letter form (included in the application) to five reputable citizens who have known you for five years and who are not related to you by blood or marriage. Ask them to complete and sign the reference and return it to you. DO NOT mail or deliver your application until you have five completed references.
Provide copies of the documentation proving that you have 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. If it is not renewed after one year and you wish to do private investigations, you must register as a new applicant. The fee for an individual license is:
Submit your application, photographs, references, surety bond, documentation of qualifications and fee to:
If your license is approved, complete your business registration (see step 1 above).
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