The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED: P.O. Box 21398 / Columbia, South Carolina 29221-1398 / (803) 737-9000 / Fax (803) 896-7588) is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of PI’s in SC. The general requirements for a Private Investigator are:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Submit a $350 non-refundable completed application.
- Submit two (2) complete sets of fingerprint cards.
- Submit a recent digital photograph in accordance with SLED Regulatory Services credentialing requirements.
- In accordance with S.C. Code Ann. § 40-18-70(B), the applicant must post a $10,000 bond with SLED, on an approved form, in favor of the State by a surety company licensed to transact surety insurance business in this State.
- A completed, signed, and notarized Judgment Statement Affidavit. The applicant may submit a certified statement by the Clerk of Court in the applicant’s county of residence in lieu of the affidavit.
- A completed, signed, and notarized Form PD/PS-9. If the company is not incorporated, the applicant for licensing must have a financial interest in the company. A corporate head of an incorporated business who does not wish to apply for a license may designate, in writing, a corporate official to complete the license application.
- A completed Disclosure of Principal(s) form.
- Applicants must submit a sample client contract for approval in accordance with S.C. Code Ann. § 40-18-70(F).
- In order to qualify as a private investigation business licensee, the applicant must have three years’ experience: 1) As a private investigator employed by a licensed private investigation agency; 2) As an investigator for a law firm, a government agency, a private corporation, a nonprofit organization, or in a capacity that SLED determines has provided the requisite investigative experience; or, 3) As a sworn officer with a federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency.
- Three years of compensated experience in investigative work, while employed by law enforcement agencies, collection agencies, insurance agencies, banks, courts, and other private investigation agencies, etc.
- A college degree in criminal law, criminal justice or police science can be substituted for part of the experience.
- Undergo a criminal history review.
Yes. A Private Investigator may list a post office box only if mail delivery to the business address is not possible, or if the principal place of business is located at the licensee’s personal residence. This request must be explained in writing. Otherwise, the company must state address by street, number and city. In addition, no licensee shall conduct business from any location other than the location for which a license or branch office registration was issued.
Yes. A licensed Private Investigator may protect individuals.
Yes. Private Investigators are required to carry liability insurance in SC only if their duties require the use of firearms. Investigators must maintain a minimum of $300,000 liability insurance for loss due to bodily injury or death and $300,000 for one loss due to injury or destruction of property. Otherwise, SC PI’s are required to maintain an annual “Surety” Bond to meet SC requirements.
No. Private Investigators are prohibited from soliciting business from anyone who has sustained a bodily injury as a result of an accident or from soliciting business from a family member of anyone who has sustained a bodily injury or death. However, they may solicit business from persons having an indirect interest in the injury, such as the injured person’s attorney, insurance company or employer.
A Private Investigator may not release information acquired during an investigation to anyone other than his or her client, unless otherwise instructed by the client. However, if there are any criminal offenses, information may be released to local law enforcement.
No. A Private Investigator has no law enforcement authority even if he/she has been hired by law enforcement to perform an investigation. A Private Investigator is an ordinary citizen and can only make citizen’s arrests. They can conduct legally permissible activities such as non-criminal surveillance, service of legal documents, attorney services such as litigation support, location services, etc.
No. An unlicensed person may not use any form of identification which gives the impression that he/she may be licensed.
The name, addresses, and license number of the licensee as they appear on SLED records.
The claimed years of qualifying experience must be substantiated by a written certification from the employer, subject to verification by SLED staff. Only an employer or his or her designated agent may certify this claimed experience.
Investigative reports must be submitted in a manner consistent with SLED requirements, and as agreed upon by the investigator and the client. If the client waives it in writing, oral reports are as acceptable as written reports. Investigative reports must be submitted to the client upon demand if payment has been rendered. Private investigators must make every effort to ascertain that the information acquired is factual and correct. Private investigators must provide clients with a fee schedule or reasonable explanation of how charges are calculated should the client question the licensee’s billing.
No. Private Investigators may not present themselves as anyone other than a Private Investigator. The law prohibits the use of any title, uniform, insignia, identification card or any statement which gives the impression that they are connected with any federal or state agency.
No. A Private Investigator may not enter any private building without owner’s consent, or on any property or facility where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.