How to Start a Private Investigation Agency

The demand for private investigation services in Australia continues to increase by the day. This trend has led to the establishment of many private investigation agencies and lone private investigators. Luckily, it is not too late to join the industry. There are plenty of opportunities that you can leverage to start your agency and grow.

Like any other business entity, there are rules and regulations that you need to abide by at all times to obtain the permits and be allowed to operate in the specified country. Today, we will discuss how to start a private investigation agency in Australia.

Licensing Requirements: You must have a private investigation operator or business license before your agency can start operating. Ensure you check your State or Territory guidelines.

Also, see requirements for private investigation license firms:

Register a Business Name

The first thing you need to do is register your preferred business name through the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) using ASIC Connect. Create an ASIC Connect account online and select the Business Name option listed in the drop-down menu. Read the information on this page and be sure to tick all the boxes then hit “Get Started.”

The next step is to enter your Australian Business Number (ABN) and make sure there are no spaces between the letters. Go ahead and input:

  • Your preferred business name
  • Business name holder’s details such as date of birth
  • Address of the proposed business
  • Confirm that you are eligible to hold/own the business name
  • Confirm that the details are correct
  • Pay the registration fee within ten days
  • The business name will be officially registered 48 hours after making payment

For information, check out this page.

Get an ABN (Australia Business Number)

An ABN is an 11-digit number that is issued by the National Government to businesses operating in Australia. You can also use it to claim services, goods, and energy grants tax credits. To get one, you need to submit the following information to the Business Registration Service:

  • Your business structure
  • Proof of identity
  • Precise details of your associates and business activities

Once you submit this information, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will review it and give you a response within 20 business days.

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Decide the Types of Private Investigation Services to Offer

There is a broad range of services that you can offer once your agency is fully registered. They include:

  • Missing person
  • Asset search
  • Video surveillance
  • Identity theft
  • Insurance fraud
  • Infidelity/Relationship
  • Criminal/Fraud
  • Crime Scene
  • And the list is endless

Carry out extensive research of the market to identify the services that are the most sought-after by the target audience. The research findings will help you to know which services to offer and what you need to do.

You might also choose to go for less sought-after services and charge premium fees. Since it is widely known that highly sought-after services often have a glut of service providers, service rates drop drastically due to high competition or unscrupulous operators.

Get Online

The internet is a powerful marketing tool/medium for businesses, not only in Australia but also abroad. Invest in a modern website that is responsive, user-friendly and in line with Google’s best web design and SEO practices. This investment will promote your business to millions of people who rely on the internet as the primary source of information.

Go an extra mile, hire an SEO (search engine optimization) firm to create stellar content for the website, carry out A/B tests, and create marketing campaigns for you. The best firms in this niche have skilled copywriters and SEO specialists who will do everything to ensure that your website is ranked well by search engines by Google.

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More importantly, they will help you make a decision on which marketing platforms, such as social media, to focus on, based on the private investigation services you are offering. With such a team of professionals on your side, you can rest assured that your agency will grow to its full potential.


You need to have enough capital to run the business, especially during the initial stages as you try to get a firm footing in the industry. Most equipment required to offer private investigation services is expensive. Luckily, financial institutions, such as banks, offer loans to new businesses in the security industry. Be sure to submit all the documents they request to qualify for the loans, such as a comprehensive business plan and a marketing plan.

The Australian Government also offers grants and other programs that are tailored to help businesses stay afloat. Just like with bank loans, there are certain criteria and a set of requirements that must be met to qualify. Check out Australian Government Grants & Programs to know which ones you qualify for and to apply.

Operating as a Lone Private Investigator vs. Starting an Agency

Should you operate as a lone private investigator or start an agency and hire other licensed private investigators? This is a question that you need to ask yourself to avoid challenges down the road. Consider the pros and cons of each option to make the right decision.

Ideally, as a lone private investigator, you will be doing all the projects yourself. That means you will handle all the paperwork and marketing tasks. On the other hand, by starting an agency, you will hire qualified PIs, and other staff members, such as accountants, will complete the daily tasks. The staff will also help you make the best decisions for your company.

As an Agency

Finding qualified private investigators who are licensed and qualified is usually a challenge to new entrepreneurs. Luckily, hundreds of credible recruitment agencies in Australia can help you find the best based on your agency’s goals and requirements.

The preferred agency will interview the applicants and do a thorough background check to confirm their details and suitability for the position. Ensure that the recruitment agency has a clear understanding of your vision for the agency/business from the onset to get the best staff.

Once you hire the staff, it is imperative to continuously hone their skills and expertise by providing training manuals, scheduling conferences, and courses. Australian School of Security and Investigations is one of the leading learning institutions that offer courses to new and experienced private investigators who want to advance their careers.

Note that a private investigator’s average salary in Australia is AUD 93,202 or AUD 26 – AUD 50 per hour.

List of Basic Private Investigation Equipment

Here are ten essential equipment items that are required to offer private investigation services:

  1. Power Inverter (AUD 87 – AUD 213.95 +)
  2. GPS (AUD 79 – AUD 275 +)
  3. Binoculars (AUD 299 – AUD 2100)
  4. Power Bank (AUD 45 – AUD 300 +)
  5. Overnight Bag (AUD 43 – AUD 599 +)
  6. Tripod (AUD 98 – AUD 300)
  7. Covert Cameras (AUD 159 – AUD 500 +)
  8. Covert Sound Recorders (AUD 100 – AUD 1,300 +)
  9. Private Investigators Standard Operational Manual for Your Agents
  10. Private Investigation Business Plan

The prices vary depending on the brand and the manufacturer. Consider the specific features, durability, efficiency, functionalism and reviews posted by other customers to get value for money.

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Starting a private investigation agency in Australia requires legal accreditation from the Government, academic qualifications, and experience. Ensure that you make the right decisions from the get-go, don’t take short cuts, take “baby” steps, and remain focused on the bigger picture. Every achievement should be a stepping stone to the next level of success.