New York State Private Investigator Licensing Laws


Each state has its own particular rules and regulations regarding the licensing of private investigators. The New York State private investigator laws are outlined in Article 7 of the General Business section of the state code. These laws determine which individuals are qualified to apply for an official license to conduct investigations and other activities as a private investigator.

General Requirements

  • To become a licensed private investigator in New York State, an individual must meet a few basic requirements. The person must be at least 25 years old and a principal member of the business entity that is seeking the license. The license may be issued to an individual as the sole proprietor of the business entity. The individual or members of the entity seeking a private investigator license in New York State must also be U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens. Applicants must also submit to fingerprinting and background checks.


  • In order for individuals or business entities to be eligible for licensing, the applicant must successfully pass the state exam for a licensed private investigator within a period of not more than two years prior to applying for the state license. The exam is a pass or fail format which requires that the candidate score 70 percent or higher in order to pass. Exams are done on a walk-in, first come/first serve basis. The schedule changes each year, but the dates and locations of the exams are posted on the New York Department of State website. The schedules are given from January through June and then updated in July for the dates throughout the rest of the year.


  • Under New York State law, candidates must have at least three years of experience or three years of equivalent experience in one of the following capacities: proprietary investigator, a direct employee of a licensed private investigator, or employed as an investigator in a government or law enforcement agency. New York State law defines equivalent experience as experience gained while employed in one of a few accepted professions. Individuals whose main tasks were to conduct investigations over three years of employment or whose position required that they oversee at least three individuals whose job it was to conduct investigations are eligible for application. Those applicants who served for at least 20 years in either the police or fire departments are also eligible to apply, regardless of the title they held during their employment.

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