My PI Licensing Experience


Missouri was the first state I tackled.  When I started the application process, I was halted several times and forced to create and knock out a “to do” list before I could even complete my application.  I had to create a business name, decide on my business mailing address, determine the nature of my PI business, obtain liability insurance, nail down a business phone number, and get fingerprinted and photographed.  Some of these things took quite a bit of time.  

My intent was to work from a home office, so I had to research whether I wanted to use my home address, a PO box number, or some other third party address service.  A business phone number was a similar undertaking.  Should I use my cell number?  A second number for my cell?  A different cell phone altogether?  Go back to a landline?  What about a toll free number?  My choices seemed endless.

It seemed so backward to me to have to obtain liability insurance that would cover me as a private investigator even though I wasn’t yet a licensed private investigator.  So before I could even start filling out my Missouri application, I had to really examine my intent and be certain that I was going to pursue this no matter what.  It would have been silly for me to spend all this effort, time, and expense if I wasn’t absolutely determined to become a private investigator.  By the way, I was determined.

I ran into a hiccup with my fingerprints.  My inked prints were returned as “unreadable” and “unusable”.  Apparently, I have very shallow ridges on my fingers.  My only option at this point was to travel an hour away to an FBI-approved electronic fingerprint location.  There was an electronic fingerprint location just minutes from my house, but I couldn’t use it since it wasn’t an FBI-approved location.  So, more time.  More expense.

After my Missouri application was approved, I had to choose a pre-set date to travel three hours to Jefferson City to take my exam.  Thankfully, I learned that I passed the exam just minutes after I turned it in.  I was a Missouri private investigator!  My next step - Kansas.

My Kansas PI application was similar in some ways to the Missouri application, but also different.  I had to do the photos and fingerprints all over again, but this time, I had to obtain five certificates of reference that each had to be notarized.  Since I had already obtained a business address, phone number, and liability insurance, I didn’t have to pause my application and get those things accomplished like I did with my Missouri application.  Also, instead of scheduling my exam and traveling to the capital to take it, I could just print it off the Internet, fill it out, and mail it in along with my application.  So the amount of time it took me to complete the Kansas application was much faster than Missouri, but only because I already had so many things complete from Missouri.

In addition to my state private investigator licenses, I had to obtain a city business license for the city in which I live.  I also had to fill out various forms with both Missouri and Kansas Secretaries of State.  Bottom line - it’s important to ask questions, do your research, and reach out to other private investigators for help.  It’s not easy opening your own PI business.  But it is doable and very rewarding.  Best of luck to you future PI’s out there.  I’m only an email away.