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Is it Legal to Hire a Private Investigator?

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A question we’re asked time and time again is whether it’s even legal to hire a Private Investigator. The short answer is yes! In fact, there are several things you should know before you hire a Private Investigator, which are perfectly valid and legal when working with a certified professional. There are various tasks they can and cannot do, depending on the laws that govern the practice which they need to abide by at all times. Let’s learn more about the fundamentals together.

Ontario Private Investigator’s Licence

A Private Investigator must obtain an Ontario Private Investigator’s licence in order to work legally. To receive this, they must be at least 18 years old, be legally entitled to work in Canada, have a clean criminal record, complete the basic minimum 50 hours of training regulated by the Ministry of Correctional Services and Community Safety, and have passed an examination. The details of the licensing are very strict, and you can use the information on the Ontario government page to ensure that you are working with an officially licensed Private Investigator. 

Stick to Fully Licensed Agencies Only

In Ontario, Private Investigators need to operate out of a fully licensed agency. If you’re interested in a certain one, check with Service Ontario to verify their legitimacy for you. Background checks have been conducted on these agencies and they are fully insured. They comply with the Private Investigation and Services Act (2005), and are also responsible for adhering to the Trespass to Property Act, the Criminal Code, and any other relevant law documents that are pertinent to their business. Fully licensed agencies and their Private Investigators must always operate within the confines of the law.

Look for a Reputation, Not a “Deal”

If the agency you’re looking at boasts being the “cheapest” option more than anything else, it might be a red flag. There may be hidden fees you’ll wind up paying, like additional costs for them to keep searching for a missing person. These companies can claim they’re the cheapest because they don’t pay thousands of dollars to access the databases that will help you find the person you’re looking for. In the end, you could spend hundreds and have nothing to show for it. A well-established business will have multiple branches in more than one city or province. A business that is just getting started will serve their local community and perhaps surrounding areas, which means they have less experience and possibly fewer resources. 

The Smith Investigation Agency is an award-winning and respected private investigation agency. We have numerous surveillance and monitoring services available in various cities throughout Canada. In addition, we’re proud to offer Ministry-regulated training programs to aspiring Private Investigators. Contact us for more information or to get in touch with a Private Investigator today.

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Founder of The Smith Investigation Agency in 2014, Whitney Joy Smith’s extensive background as a private investigator is matched only by her passion for the role. A graduate of several respected institutions, including Northwest Florida State College and George Brown College, her early years in life were spent between Canada and the United States. This education, along with her formative years as a private investigator in various agencies, informed much of her knowledge of private investigative laws, regulations, and operating standards in both countries.


The recipient of numerous industry awards and accolades, including the Consumers Choice Award, Best in Ottawa, and many others, Whitney takes pride in working closely with her ever-growing agency to raise the bar, maintain compliance, and meet the investigative needs of clients. Whitney is active in various membership and supporting roles, including the CPIRC, CBN, CAPI, Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and many others. Her experience-driven, thought-provoking articles have been featured in everything from Readers Digest to Business News Daily, and she strives to continually redefine standards for those in the private investigative and security fields. Learn more about Whitney and the team at The Smith Investigation Agency today.

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