Q. What are the requirements to become licensed as a Private Detective?

R. You must have at least three years of investigative experience or 10 years as a police officer, unless you held a rank above patrolman, in which case you would need three years experience as a police officer with a rank above patrolman. You must be of good moral character. Three reputable citizens must sign the back of your application to certify that you are of good moral character. You cannot have had any felony convictions.


Q. How do I obtain the application for a Private Detective License?

R. You can download our forms from this website. Be sure to complete every form including, the original application to become licensed, the experience sheet (where you list all of your prior work history relative to investigations). The certificate page, where you must have three reputable citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sign the back of your application to certify that you are of good moral character. The Bond form, must be completed by a bonding company. You can also contact the Department of State Police Certification Unit at 978-538-6128 24 hours a day, follow the prompt for Private Detective applications, and leave your full name and address on the voice mail. A complete package will be mailed to you the following business day.


Q. How do I apply for a Private Detective License?

R. Complete the entire application package, include a certified check or money order, made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of $550.00. Along with the application package you must include the Surety Bond and business certificate from the city of town hall in which you intend to set up your business. If your company is incorporated, you must file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State's office and forward the original articles along with your application package to this office.


Q. What does the background investigation on a private detective applicant entail and how long does it take to obtain a Private Detective license after I have submitted my application?

R. Provided your paperwork was submitted properly, the licensing process entails the application package being assigned to an investigator located in the area of the Commonwealth in which you intend to operate a company. The investigator will conduct a complete background investigation on all information provided by you in your package. Once this is complete, the investigator will contact you and arrange a personal interview with you. During the interview your application and information regarding your background, M.G.L. Chapter 147 s.22-30, SLU forms 95-001 through 95-003, hiring of employees and record keeping issues will be reviewed. Also, any questions you have may be answered at this time. This process usually takes from 2-6 weeks depending on current workload of investigator.


Q. What if I do not have the experience to become licensed as a Private Detective?

R. If you do not have the requisite experience to qualify for the Private Detective license but you meet all other qualifications, you could obtain a Watch Guard Patrol Agency License or if you are determine to open a Private Detective Agency, you can hire a "Resident Manager". A "Resident Manager" is someone who qualifies for the license and is responsible to the Department of State Police Certification Unit for the actual license and to abide by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 147 Sections 22-30.


Q. What is the process if I would like to apply for a Watch Guard Patrol Agency?

R. You must be of good moral character. Three reputable citizens must sign the back of your application to certify that you are of good moral character. You cannot have had any felony convictions. You do not need any particular work experience to apply for the Watch Guard Patrol Agency license.


Q. In the event that my current Resident Manager is no longer employed by my company, am I still licensed?

R. NO. Your Resident Manager is the "Qualified Agent" responsible to the MSP Certification Unit for your license. If the Resident Manager is no longer working for your company, you are not licensed until he/she has been replaced.


Q. How do I replace my current Resident Manager?

R. You must have your new qualified Resident Manager submit a "Change of Resident Manager form" to the Department of State Police Certification Unit. The form is similar to the Original Private Detective Application form except there is no fee, the license number, effective & expiration dates will remain the same as the initial license. If the package is submitted simultaneous to your licenses expiration date, you do not have to provide a renewal form, just the Change of Resident Manager package with the renewal fee.


Q. What if I change the name of my company or move the business address?

R. You must update either your business certificate or Articles of Organization if your Incorporated. Submit a "Change or address form" if your business or home address changes.


Q. What if my company is currently licensed and operating in another state and an investigation takes me into Massachusetts, but I do not hold a license in Massachusetts.

R. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have reciprocity with any other state, in order to operate a Private Detective and/or Watch Guard Patrol Agency within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you must be properly licensed through the Department of State Police Certification Unit.


Q. What do I do in the event that I have a complaint against a company?

R. All complaints must be received in writing to the following address:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Department of State Police
Certification Unit
attn: Complaints
485 Maple Street
Danvers, MA 01923


Q. I am in the market of hiring a private detective and want to hire someone who specialized in a particular field. How do I find a licensed investigator?

R. Unfortunately, the private detective licenses are not broken down to specialty fields, also, as the licensing agency, we cannot recommend one company over another as that would be a conflict of interest. However, if you look through your local phone book or search on line and find a particular detective you may want to hire, you should contact the Department of State Police Certification Unit to ensure the company you would like to hire is properly licensed and bonded. Also, you can purchase a list of all licensed Private Detectives from the Department of State Police Certification Unit. The list costs $1.00 per page, currently there are 57 pages in the list, therefore, the list is $57.00. You must forward a certified check or money order in the amount of $57.00 along with a written request including the address in which you would like the list to be mailed. (for more information on purchasing a list contact the Department of State Police Certification Unit 978-538-6128).


Q. How do I find a bonding company?

R. Your local insurance provider can usually complete the bond or recommend a good bonding company to you. Two bonding companies that are widely used by insurance agents are United Casualty & Surety Company and Western Surety Company. You can search in your local yellow pages or on line for additional companies.


Q. How do I obtain a gun permit?

R. This is a question commonly asked to the Certification Unit. However, we are not the licensing authority for gun permits. This unit does not license or have any information as to how to obtain a gun permit. As far as gun permits go, either contact your local police department or the Executive Office of Public Safety & Security's Firearms Division at 617-660-4782.

Should you have additional questions please contact the Certification Unit directly at 978-538-6128.