How Do I Become a Private Investigator in South Carolina?

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In order to become a private investigator in South Carolina, you must go through an application process and background check with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Before beginning this process, be absolutely certain that you have a clear criminal record and that there are no outstanding civil judgments against you. You should also be certain that you meet all other criteria for becoming a private investigator, including age, citizenship and previous experience in law enforcement, security or as an employee of a licensed private investigation agency. The process is costly and time-consuming, so it is important to make sure that you are legally qualified before you begin.

The Application Process

  • Complete and sign the application form, the Disclosure of Principal(s) Form and Form PD/PS-9. The Disclosure of Principal(s) Form is a statement signed by all people who exercise operational control of a company, and Form PD/PS-9 verifies the nature of the company. Have all three forms notarized.

  • Request a statement from your county’s clerk of court verifying that you have no outstanding civil judgments against you.

  • Purchase a surety bond from an insurance company licensed to do business in South Carolina. Make sure you purchase a surety bond for the required amount. For the current amount of required insurance, check SLED’s private investigator licensing website.

  • Go to a local police station to have two complete sets of fingerprints taken.

  • If you do not have a photograph of yourself taken in the past three months, ask a friend or family member to take one. Have it developed or print it out if you used a digital camera.

  • Mail the application, including the application fee, to SLED. You will then have to wait for the results of the criminal background check before receiving your license.

Tips & Warnings

  • To save money, shop around. Charges for fingerprints, photograph development and surety bonds can vary greatly depending on where you go.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau before purchasing your surety bonds. Make sure the company is not only licensed but reputable.
  • If you have questions about the process, SLED’s information number is 803-737-9000.
  • If you have a criminal record or outstanding civil judgments against you, performing the above steps will waste your time and money. Your application will be rejected, but the money you paid will not be refunded.
  • If you have no experience in security, police or investigative work, your application will be denied.
  • If you are currently a police officer, your application will be denied as a conflict of interest.

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