Texas licensing information
The Private Security Act (Chapter 1702, Texas Occupations Code) requires the licensure of any person or company that provides or offers to provide investigations or security-related services in the state. Providing or offering to provide a regulated service without a license, or knowingly employing or contracting with an unlicensed company to perform a regulated service, is a Class A misdemeanor (first offense). There are also criminal penalties imposed under the statutory provisions of the Act that make the operation of an unlicensed company punishable by a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000.00, or both on conviction for the first offense. Subsequent convictions of operating as an unlicensed company could result in imprisonment for no less than 2 years and no more than 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000.00 or both if desired by the prosecutorial authority to whom the case is presented.
Regulated services include: Investigations, Guards (both unarmed and armed), Security Alarms, Armored Car Service, Courier Service, Electronic Access Devices, Locksmiths, Guard Dogs, Telematics, Security Consultants and Training Schools.
There are two options for submitting a Company License Application either by mail or by using the Internet “Texas Online” service. If you send in the original application(s) and supporting documents by mail along with the statutory fee(s), you must submit a PSB-50 form (Application and Fee Submission). Go to the “Instructions / Fees /Forms Section” on PSB webpage or see link www.txdps.state.tx.us/psb/forms/index.htm.
To submit the online application, please visit the Private Security Bureau’s website and go to “Online Application Services” or go to the link www.txdps.state.tx.us/psb/licenses.htm. Additionally, you may perform other transactions using the online services such as: Company and Individual original applications, Company and Individual renewal applications, and Employee Information Update applications. Note: you may not register any employees until your company has been issued a license by TX DPS Private Security Bureau.
Fees submitted by mail must be in the form of a cashier’s check, money order or licensed company check. If you submit fees using Texas Online internet service, payments may be made in the form of a credit card or Automated Checking (ACH). Note: All fees submitted to the Private Security Bureau are non-refundable or transferable.
All application(s) received by PSB are processed in order by the date they are received in the office. Once the company application has been received by (mail or online) and updated to the PSB database, you will be issued a “Z” application file number (Ex: Z00000). Remember: With a “Z” application file number, you may not perform any regulated services or solicit business until your company has been issued a license such as (A00000, B00000, C00000 and etc…). It may take 8-12 weeks to (process a new company application).
Company application, supporting documents, and passing the manager’s test must be completed within (90) days of paying the initial fees to the Private
It is a violation of the Texas Occupations Code to advertise, solicit business, bid on contracts or perform any investigative services without being properly licensed. Violations can result in administrative and civil penalties as well as criminal filings against the violator.
Qualification summary: An agency must have a qualified manager who has to have a minimum of 3 years experience (or combination of higher education and experience), pass a written exam and show proof of liability insurance. If the person does not qualify as the manager/owner, they will have to locate an agency that will hire and train them as a private investigator. To be licensed as a PI, you must be 18 years of age or older with no criminal history (see specific requirements). Again, it is like applying for any other job and you must find a licensed agency that will hire and train you as a private investigator if you do not meet the requirements to own your own agency.
To operate in Texas, a PI agency must have a qualifying manager that directly supervises the agency and investigators licensed under their company. This manager must have experience and qualifications that meet one of the following:
three (3) consecutive years of investigation-related experience;
a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice; a bachelor’s degree, with an additional six months of investigation-related experience;
an associate degree in criminal justice or related course of study, with an additional twelve months of investigation-related experience; or a specialized course of study directly designed for and related to the private investigations profession, taught and presented through affiliation with a four-year college or university accredited and recognized by the State of Texas. This course of study must be endorsed by the four year college or university’s department of criminal justice program and include a departmental faculty member(s) on its instructional faculty. This course of study must consist of a minimum of two hundred face-to-face classroom hours including coverage of ethics, Private Security Board administrative rules, the Private Security Act, and related statutes. Other combinations of education and investigation-related experience may be substituted for the above at the discretion of the Bureau manager. The bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and specialized courses referenced in section (a) of this rule must be affiliated with a college or university recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board, Southern Association of Schools and Colleges or other accreditation organization recognized by the State of Texas.
After meeting the qualifications for manager, the person must register to take the manager’s exam with the Private Security Bureau. Upon successful completion of the written exam, the person must show proof of liability insurance.
Upon qualifying as the manager/owner of the agency, the manager can hire other individuals that can operate as private investigators under their agency after they meet the manager’s requirements (including the requirements below). To be licensed and employed by a licensed company as a private investigator, a person must meet all the requirements set forth in Texas Occupations Code 1702.113, summarized in part (but not in whole) below. The person must:
be at least 18 years of age;
not have been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a felony level offense;
not have been convicted, in any jurisdiction, of a Class A or equivalent misdemeanor;
not have been convicted, within the past 5 years, in any jurisdiction, of a Class B misdemeanor or equivalent offense;
not currently charged with, or under indictment for, a felony, or a Class A misdemeanor;
not currently charged with, a Class B misdemeanor;
not have been found by a court to be incompetent by reason of a mental defect or disease and not have been restored to competency;
not have been dishonorably discharged from the United States armed services, discharged from the United States armed services under other conditions determined by the Board to be prohibitive, or dismissed by the United States armed services if a commissioned office in the United States armed services;
not be required to register in this or any other state as a sex offender.