How to choose a Private Investigator in Australia

Are you wondering how to choose a Private Investigator?  Online Investigations Pty Ltd, your preferred Private Investigator Melbourne, takes a deeper look.

If you are in the position where you need to hire a private investigator, then you are most likely going through a difficult time in your life and it may be hard to know where to turn.  To help you with your decision process we at Online Investigations Pty Ltd have provided a short list of things to look out for when choosing a private investigator.

1. Check their licence

With the exception of Canberra, private investigators must be licenced by the relevant licensing authority in the State they are located.  In addition to individual licences, companies offering investigation services must also have a business licence.  If you plan to engage an investigation company make sure they have one.  The licences are generally issued and administered by the Police in conjunction with courts in most States, however, in some states or territories of Australia this is managed by other government agencies.

Verification of a private investigator or investigation company license can be made through the following agencies:

Victoria: Licensing for individuals and companies in this state is organised through the Victorian Police licensing services division.  Verification of their registration can be made online via their public register located at

Australian Capital Territory: No current requirement to be licensed, however many have voluntarily chosen to register under NSW legislation.

New South Wales: Private investigators in NSW operate under the new Commercial Agents and Private Inquiry Agents Act 2004 (CAPI).  Verification of their CAPI license can made online via the NSW Police register:

Northern Territory:  Administration of licences is carried out by the Northern Territory Department of Justice.  Currently there is no requirement in this State for investigators to undertake a training course to be eligible for a licence.  To verify an investigators licence please contact the Consumer and Business Affairs directly on (08) 8935 7777.

Queensland:  Private investigators in Queensland operate under Security Providers Act (1993) and licences are administered by the Office of Fair Trading (QLD). Verification of their registration can be viewed online at

South Australia:  Private investigators in South Australia hold a Private Agents licenses administered by the Office of Consumer & Business Affairs, under the Security and Investigation Agents Act (1995).  Verification of their registration can be viewed online at

Tasmania: Private investigators in this State operate under the Commercial and Inquiry Agents Act 1974.  Verification of their registration can be viewed online at  (NB: This register is in .pdf format).

Western Australia: Private investigators in Western Australia are licensed by the Western Australian Police Service under the Security and Related Activities (Control) Act (1996).   A list of licensed individuals and companies can be found online at

2. Professional Body

You can gain further confidence in your choice of private investigator by checking whether they belong to any appropriate professional bodies. These will generally be advertised on the Investigation website or alternatively framed in their office.  Online Investigations Pty Ltd is currently a member of the following:

  • Australian Institute of Professional Investigators (AIPI)
  • Australian Web Industry Assocation
  • World Association of Detectives (WAD)
  • World Association of Professional Investigators (WAPI)

3. Experience and Specialties

Registration with a professional body may not be sufficient to ensure a particular investigator or firm is the right choice for your particular situation. Certain private investigation companies specialise in certain areas such as surveillance or skip tracing. Make sure the one you choose is right for the job by reading the companys’ website and reviewing their case studies and media links.

Individual investigators, too, will have different levels of experience. Many are ex-police or ex-army. The contacts and experience gained during these previous professions will often be advantageous during investigations.

Unfortunately we are aware of one investigation company in particular that claims on their website their investigators have a particular background, when in reality this is simply not true.  When choosing an investigator or investigation company we encourage you to research their claims more thoroughly by viewing their LinkedIN accounts, historic media articles and other investigation forums to confirm the validity of their statements.

Does the company or individual write a blog? Many firms who specialise in a particular area offer regular articles about trending issues in their area of expertise.  Alternatively, they may be called upon by media to speak as a keynote industry leader.

4. Location 

When considering hiring an private eye it is important to factor in the location of where the investigation is to take place. The investigation company or individual must be licensed in the State where they conduct their inquiries, rather than where their client is located.  Is the company located in the same State you require the Investigation in? Unless they have a secondary office in another State to where they located it is highly likely they will hire sub-contractors to conduct the work for them.  Do the investigators need to travel interstate or overseas for your requirements?  It is important to ensure the investigators are licensed in each state and make necessary inquiries to possible licensing or restrictions if travelling abroad.

5. Reputation

A quick google search of the term “private investigation australia” revealed 4,500,000 results which is a good indication of the amount of investigators to choose from! So how can you possibly decide which firm to go with?

When deciding on a firm to use, where possible seek recommendations and referrals from others who have used their services before.  A little research on the Internet can also identify a wide range of positive and negative comments about others personal experience with the firm.  They may be well known in the industry – however it may be for all the WRONG reasons!

Don’t be afraid to ring around and/or email a selection of investigation companies for quotes and advice before making your final decision.  There is always more than one way to conduct a successful investigation and depending on an investigators experience and knowledge base their method may be significantly more time consuming than the other, which will ultimately reflect the final price.  Always agree on a budget prior to any investigation taking place and where possible ensure a Client Service Agreement is signed and dated by both parties.

 Above all else, an investigation company and/or private eye should be approachable.  To discuss your situation further and obtain a detailed consultation, please contact one of our friendly representatives at Online Investigations.

Online Investigations Pty Ltd are a private investigation company based in Melbourne, Australia.  Experienced private investigators and detectives in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and Worldwide. Servicing Canberra, Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and International.

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7 thoughts on “How to choose a Private Investigator in Australia

  1. Pingback: Jacob

  2. Matt Brown Reply

    Hi there,
    I am very driven and determined to one day create my own investigations business, specialising in surveillance, sub contracting my services with no employees. Would you be able to give some helpful references or give me any information on how best to do this, any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
    Matt Brown

  3. Caryl Anne Reply

    These are great tips to keep in mind when choosing a PI, even if they are located outside Australia. In my opinion, if someone follows this advice, they can surely be steered in the right direction in choosing a company that best fits them and their needs. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Albert Peterson Reply

    I get a great and helpful points that you have shared over here. I think you want to hire a PI out of Australia, then keep in mind these tips before choosing a Private detective. Definitely, I will consider when choosing a private investigator.

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