How to Hire a PI

We recommend at least four steps in hiring a PI firm:

  1. Ascertain that they are licensed as a PI firm by the Security Programs and Police Technologies Division of the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
  2. Ascertain that the firm is a member in good standing with PIABC by using our PI Search Tool
  3. Ensure that the firm can supply the investigative resources appropriate for your unique needs.
  4. Have a written contract that ensures you are provided with a written report of activities and time.

It is important to understand that you cannot hire a private investigator to work directly for you. By law, you can only hire a PI firm. It is illegal for a PI to work directly for a client. A PI must not only be licensed as a private investigator, they must also have a security business license issued by the Solicitor General of BC before working directly for you. A municipal business license is not sufficient.

Hiring a PI that is not properly licensed to do security business by the Solicitor General incurs a high liability risk. PIs cannot get valid insurance that will protect you against potential civil liability if you and the PI are sued. Any insurance they have may be invalid because they are not operating as a legally licensed security business and are in contravention of legislation.

You should ask for the PI firm’s correct business name and their security business license number before engaging their services. If you are in doubt as to the status of a PI business, you can contact the licensing Registrar at:

Phone: Victoria (250) 387-6981
Vancouver, call Enquiry BC: 604 660-2421, ask to be transferred to (250) 387-6981
Elsewhere in B.C., call: 1 800 663-7867, ask to be transferred to (250) 387-6981
Address: Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
Policing and Security Programs Branch, Security Programs Division
Attention: Registrar, Security Services – Licensing Dept.
PO Box 9217 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria BC V8W 9J1

Consider hiring PIABC member firms. They can be found using our PI Search Tool and may also listed under ‘Confirm Business Membership’. There are significant advantages to hiring PIABC firms.

Our members agree to be bound by a code of ethics and abide by our professional oversight and discipline. This helps ensure you receive honest and confidential investigation services. Why would you put your interests at risk by not hiring professionals who agree to abide to our code of ethics?

Our members have met education and skills standards and have ongoing opportunities for more professional development. Get quality services by hiring PIABC member firms!

Our private investigators and member firms are required by PIABC to be licensed by Security Services under the Public Safety and Solicitor General of BC. It is illegal for an individual private investigator to work directly for you. It is also illegal for a person not licensed as a private investigator to do any such work in BC, including working for a firm. For your protection, legislation requires that only licensed private investigation firms who carry appropriate insurance and use licensed investigators can work for you.

Firms in our “PI Search Tool” list are checked annually by us to ensure they are properly licensed. They are required to have business insurance which can help protect you from liability.

These are just a few of the benefits you can receive by hiring PIABC Investigation Firms!

Why would you want to hire anyone else!

Be cautious in dealing with a PI firm that inaccurately promotes themselves as members of PIABC. Some firms displaying our PIABC logo may never have been members; may no longer be members; or may have been required to withdraw from the Association for discipline reasons. Non-member firms do not provide you with the benefits of relying on our ethics standards and discipline procedures. You should confirm a PI firm’s membership status by first reading our Confirm PIABC Membership web page. Why would you want to employ a firm that does not accurately describe its status as a member in good standing with PIABC?

Potential clients are encouraged to be prepared when contacting PI firms for services. It is important for a client to clearly articulate their investigation objectives rather than dictate ‘how the job is to be done’. Ask what investigation expertise or skills will be needed to fulfill your needs and ensure that persons with sufficient abilities in those areas will be used.

Clients should also request a service contract or written quotes that describe the specific services that will be delivered, assurances that all investigators working on this file are properly licensed and have appropriate experience or training, the cost per hour, mileage rates, administrative costs, report writing costs, printing and digital media costs and any other additional fees. Ensure your contract includes any other assurances or guarantees made by the PI firm.

Some firms may offer to exclude the provision for a written report to save the client money but it also inhibits the client from reviewing the investigation work in sufficient detail to ensure that the work was actually done, that the billable hours and costs are correct. Declining receipt of a written report is akin to asking your bank to give you an opening and closing balance without detailing any service charges, interest rates or listing cheques and withdrawals. It is your money and you need to know how it was spent.