How to Become a Detective In District of Columbia

4 steps to become a licensed private detective in District of Columbia

Nathan had always idolized Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe when he was a child. However, the thought of becoming a private detective never crossed his mind until the small town he lived in witnessed a sudden spike in crime rates. That’s when Nathan decided to procure a license as a private investigator.
As per the Municipal Regulations of the District of Columbia, a license is needed to work as a private investigator. Licensed private investigators in District of Columbia are allowed to detect, discover and/or reveal crime or criminals. Or, they may be required to gather information for evidence associated with criminals and/or crime and determine the identity, whereabouts, actions or character of a suspect.
Presented below is the step-by-step process of becoming a private detective in District of Columbia.

Steps to become a private investigator in District of Columbia

Fulfil the basic requirements for Licensure as a private investigator in DC

Even before you can apply to become a private investigator in the District of Columbia, you must meet some of the primary requirements. These requirements are elaborated on the Chapter 17-20 of the District of Columbia Municipal code, and include:

  • The applicants must be of 18 or older
  • The applicants have to pass the FBI criminal background check and criminal history review
  • The applicants shouldn’t have the records of felony convictions
  • He/she must be a resident of the District of Columbia
  • He/she should have the financial capacity to file and keep in force a license bond of at least $5000
  • He/she should have an offer of employment from a licensed private investigation agency in the District of Columbia.
  • Having a license for private investigation in the District of Columbia doesn’t allow you the authority to possess concealed firearms. To acquire a registration for firearms, you must apply separately and fulfil a different set of requirements.

Fulfil educational preferences and training requirements in District of Columbia

The Metropolitan Police Department of District of Columbia doesn’t require the applicants to possess education or experience beyond that of a high school diploma or GED. The Metropolitan Police Department of the District is the institution chiefly responsible for licentious and regulation of private investigators in the region.
However, acquiring a college degree, diploma, or certificate can often be of great help to applicants for private investigation licenses in DC. Choosing the following disciplines would be a good idea.

  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Legal Studies
  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security

Submit licensing application(s) and supporting documentation to the Metropolitan Police Department

After you have acquired the necessary qualifications, you are ready to apply for licensure as a private investigator in District of Columbia. The registration for firearms can be obtained once you receive adequate training for it.

Obtaining the license for private investigation

You have to call the Security Officers Management Branch of the Metropolitan Police Department to procure an application form and other forms to apply for the licensure in District of Columbia.
They will ask you to obtain a completed application that you are supposed to receive from your employer. The document needs to be duly signed by him/her or another authorized company representative, emphasizing that you are employed/have an employment offer with them. “You must keep the duly filled out application and your driver’s license or picture identification card with you to the Security Officers Management Branch (SOMB) for the verification”, suggests Brian Adler, an assignment expert help working for
The following are some of the essential documents that you must carry with you.

  • Narcotised affidavit form (will be provided to you by SOMB) that lists your past employment, and residences
  • The documents of your birth certificate from the Vital Statistics Office located in the state you were born
  • A license fee of $206 is payable through certified check, cashier’s check, or money order to the DC treasurer
  • Two recent passport-sized colour photos
  • Copies of documents highlighting name changes (like marriage certificates, adoption papers and divorce decrees)
  • Copy of your retirement from the military, if applicable

Registration of firearms

Even though you don’t need a permit to carry a concealed weapon as a licensed private investigator in the District of Columbia, you must register the firearms you possess. This process is as follows:

  • Complete the application for a firearms registration certificate (form PD-219) issued by the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD).
  • Once the form is filled up, submit it to the Firearms Registration Section of the MPD along with-
  • If you are buying the firearm, you won’t have it yet, as the DC dealer is not authorized to sell it to you until you get through the registration process.
  • Proof of DC residency
  • Proof that you have completed the training requirement, such as:
  • Certificate indicating that you received firearms training in the military
  • Certificate upon the completion for the online firearms safety training course
  • Other documents stating that you have completed a firearms training or safety course
  • You will be required to certify that you are not blind

Then you have to sit for a test and score at least a 70% result. You will be given multi-choice questions on the firearms laws and guidelines of the District of Columbia. You can refer to a study guide on the laws and regulations of the state of Washington before appearing for the test.
Pay the fees of $48 (includes biometric identification/FBI background check fee of $35 and application fee of $13) via cash or money order payable to the DC Treasurer.
After your firearms registration is approved in one to five business days, you will be informed by phone.

You are now a licensed private investigator in District of Columbia

Now you have procured your license as a private investigator, which is valid for one year. The validity period starts from November 1 of the year it is issued, and continuing until October 31 of the following year.
You will get information on the renewal by mail from the SOMB at least one month before your license is set to expire. The renewal fee is $206.

The Takeaway

Becoming a PI in District of Columbia, requires an individual to procure a valid license. Obtaining this license requires some elaborate processes that need to be carried out. These processes include-

  • Fulfil the basic requirements to procure the license
  • Meet the training requirements
  • Submit the licensing applications
  • Obtain the license and start practising as a PI

Author Bio: Kady Smith works as a visiting faculty for a reputed academic institution in Australia. She has acquired her degree in Psychology from the Federation University in Australia. She has an affinity for crime and private investigation. She is also a part of MyAssignmenthelp as an advisor and extends proofreading services to students.