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How to Become a Private Investigator in Ontario

To Become a Private Investigator in Ontario is similar to most other provinces: you need to meet basic Private Investigator requirements such as age, language proficiency, and other usual requirements of this nature.

Furthermore, to become a Private Investigator in Ontario, you need to take a government approved Ontario Private Investigator's license course.

Ontario PI Peter Sandru

Service Ontario Private Investigator Licensing

In Ontario, the government body that controls licensed Ontario Private Investigators is Service Ontario which is a government body acting under the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

So, it is Service Ontario that will approve Ont PI licensing courses:

After completing the PI course, you will need to pass a Service Ontario PI license test:

  • This is called the Basic Ministry Test.

  • Information on the test will be provided to you after completing the ON licensing course.

Once you submit the proof of your ability to meet the requirements and completion of the licensing course and test to Service Ontario, you will get your Ontario PI license. Most jurisdiction will have a PI beginner’s license, Ontario does not. You will get to start out with a full Ontario Private Investigator license. This is where you need to start learning the practical PI skills you will be using.

Ontario Private Investigator Beginner License

The process of how to become a PI in many provinces starts with a beginner's license. Your Private Investigator beginner’s license in Ontario is just a regular Private Investigator license. It will allow you to work for a PI agency, but you will not be able to work for yourself (your own PI company).

This PI license means you must work under the supervision of a fully licensed Ontario PI agency. However, the term “under supervision” will be in namesake only. You will not be supervised or guided by an experienced Private Investigator. In fact, Ontario PI agencies are not economically structured to have mentor or student surveillance teams.

Furthermore, the Ontario licensing course will be great for learning PI legislation, but it alone will not set you up to become a successful Private Investigator. New Private Investigators still need to know how to be successful working operations. This is why practical Private Investigator education and training specifically for Private Investigators is necessary.

Service Ontario

Occupational Licensing Services Office

P.O. Box 4500

Kingston ON

K7L 0E1

ontario detective in car with spy glass

This lack of guidance is why so many new Ontario Private Investigators burn out and quit and why many experienced Private Investigators are jaded. On top of this, PI clients with small budgets typically get the new unqualified Private Investigators, nobody wins in this situation. It is also not fair to small PI clients to use their files to haphazardly train new Private Investigators.

So, the time comes for you to be a Private Investigator and work investigations with no Private Investigator experience or education.

  • The Ontario licensing course you took focused on legislation, but you need practical Private Investigator training as well.

You will always be told by employers that “soon you will get some PI training,” which never happens. It took me over five years to figure out the industry and get good at a few specialized fields. During that time, I struggled and probably lost several hundred thousand dollars due to losing work opportunities from a lack of skill and education.

What is sad is that this is a common story in the industry. If you make it through this confusing path and get an Ontario Private Investigator business license, you will be qualified to work for yourself with your own PI agency. Hopefully, when you are hiring new Private Investigators, you will appreciate the importance of proper PI education.

Ontario Private Investigator License Requirements

  1. You must be 19 or older.

  2. Have a clean criminal record.

  3. Be legally allowed to work in Ontario.

  4. Be English language proficient.

  5. Take government PI license course.

  6. Pass Ontario government PI test.

  7. Get a passport photo.

  8. Submit documents online or by mail.

  9. Get a guarantor.

  10. Pay fee.


You must be 19 or older.

Criminal Record

You cannot have a criminal record. You must obtain your own criminal record check. The RCMP and OPP offers this service. The fee is usually around $50. You can submit the criminal record document to Service Ontario.

Canadian Citizen

You need to be a Canadian citizen and submit a copy of government ID to Service Ontario.


You must be able to speak and write in English

Government Approved PI License Course

You will need to complete a license course approved by Service Ontario. After completing the course, you will be given a completion number. Use this number to register for the Service Ontario test.


You will need to pass the Ontario Basic Ministry Test

Passport Photo

You have to provide a certified passport photo.


The documents you submit can be sent to Service Ontario via mail or online uploading.


You will need to get someone you know personally to verify your identity.


You will have to pay a small licensing fee.

Working For Yourself

To work on your own you need to obtain an Ontario PI business license. You need an Ontario PI license to do this.

Thinking of Becoming an Ontario Private Investigator?

  • ICPI Level 100 online Private Investigator Training Package” is the ultimate blueprint to start your exciting and rewarding career as a real Ontario Private Investigator.

  • ICPI 100 will help you start successfully in this amazing new career, even if you know nothing about investigations.

  • Our team has vetted out the best training and investigative methods so that you can jump-start your journey towards having the meaningful career you’ve always wanted, immediately.

  • This PI training system will provide you, a successful investigator, with all the templates that you need to succeed. A clear path on becoming a PI, understanding the PI business, becoming a successful PI, and thinking like a detective- all the tools you need to make six figures being an investigative Operative.

  • To date, this online training system consists of over 100 informational slides, videos, exercises and quizzes that provide a step-by-step path on how to achieve your dream job as a Private Investigator.

  • ICPI Level 100 takes about a month to complete with over 80 hours of high-quality training content that will make you a informed Private Investigator well on your way to becoming an expert in this fascinating career.


Get a certificate that "actually" matters. When you get certified by Novel Data in the 100 Level course, Private Investigator agencies will be aware that you understand the PI industry. This will give you a great competitive edge in the PI job market. Most PI applicants know very little about the PI job they are applying to. Not you. A PI hiring manager will not want to risk turnaround by hiring someone unfamiliar with the industry, they will choose an applicant who is familiar with what will be expected of them. With Novel Data's certification, that applicant will be you!

Become a Great Ontario PI

Yes, you can become a great Ontario Private Investigator. How? Through Private Investigator education. Not through the short Ontario government licensing course, but through at least 100hrs of practical Private Investigator education. This can be online Private Investigator training classes or in an in-class training environment. In order to become a successful Ontario Private Investigator and meet Private Investigator requirements, you need to become educated on the complexities of the private investigation industry (this will also help you decide if you want to pursue the PI career) and how to set yourself up to become a successful Private Investigator. Secondly, you will need to become educated on how to perform investigations.

To learn the complexities of the Ontario Private Eye industry you will need to understand a few Private Investigator industry topics. Regional licensing requirements for Private Investigators will teach you what you need to obtain your Ontario Private Investigator license. To help you decide if you want to enter the career of private investigation you, will have to learn the common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry. Understanding the learning curve of a Private Investigator will set you up to become a successful PI.

Before entering the Ontario PI industry, it is useful to know the challenges encountered as a Professional Private Investigator. This will also help you make career decisions. Then you need to learn what you will be doing as a Private Investigator. Learning the areas of specialization as a Professional Private Investigator and types of clients and corresponding file requirements will help with this. You will need to learn how Ontario Investigators obtain assignments and hours of work to determine if this work environment is right for you.

If you are concerned about your ability to perform as a Toronto Private Investigator, learning what factors will determine your aptitude as a Professional Private Investigator and what makes a “good” Professional Private Investigator will be essential. It is also important to know the physical and health requirements and health considerations. Then there is equipment. Learning about equipment needed in order to get started in a career as a Professional Private Investigator is a must.

Furthermore, you will need to educate yourself on communication devices and their role in private investigation. Lastly and most importantly, you must learn “The Investigative Mindset.” This will teach you how to think like a Private Investigator. After you learn these concepts, you will be well on your way to becoming a Private Investigator even without experience.

After learning the complexities of the Ontario private investigation industry, you will need to develop practical skills in various areas. The most important areas are Desk Investigations, Pre-surveillance, surveillance, mobile vehicle surveillance, on-foot surveillance, obtaining evidence, and litigious reporting. To learn Desk Investigations, you will need to understand what is a Desk Investigation, Desk Investigation nomenclature, corroborated/ circumstantial evidence, The Evidence Document, The Desk Investigators Mindset, Google Basics for North America, and social media search basics for North America. Surveillance will be the largest subject to learn. Under this field you should learn about setting up a proper surveillance vehicle, surveillance spot checks, and surveillance set ups for various investigative operations.

As an Ontario Private Investigator, you will spend the majority of your time performing investigations solo. This is why learning single person surveillance is crucial. Furthermore, you will occasionally work in surveillance teams, so you will need to learn how to perform surveillance with two or more surveillance operatives. Ontario Private Investigators perform a lot of their surveillance from a surveillance vehicle, but also on foot, you will need to learn this also. The entire reason Ontario Private Investigators are hired, is to obtain evidence. Obviously, learning how to obtain evidence, mostly in video form, is a must. As an Ontario Private Investigator, you will need to obtain quality video that is litigious and that will satisfy your client. At the end of all this, you will need to learn how to create an investigative report that will most likely be used in litigation. After you learn all of this, you will have no trouble becoming a successful Ontario Private Investigator.

It should be apparent now, why and how you can become an Ontario Private Investigator. Yes, the government licensing course is necessary but it will not set you up for success as a Private Investigator. You will always need at least 100hrs of practical Private Investigator education. You will need to learn the PI industry, as well as how to perform. In fact, becoming a Private Investigator through proper education will set you up to become more successful than Investigators with many years of experience but who have not developed a strong foundation with proper Private Investigator education.

What You Need to Learn to Become a successful Ontario PI
  • Licensing requirements for Ontario Professional Private Investigators

  • Common misconceptions about the Private Investigation industry

  • The learning curve of a Ontario Professional Private investigator

  • Personal challenges encountered as an Ontario Professional Private Investigator

  • Areas of specialization as an Ontario Professional Private Investigator

  • Types of Ontario clients and corresponding file requirements

  • How Ontario Investigators obtain assignments and hours of work

  • What factors will determine your aptitude as a Professional Private Investigator

  • What makes a “good” Professional Private Investigator?

  • Physical health requirements and health considerations

  • Equipment needed in order to get started in a career as a PI

  • Equipment Map

  • Computers, tablets and peripherals

  • Common terminology

  • NATO Alphabet

  • The Investigative Mindset

What You Need to Learn to "Perform" Ontario Investigations
  • How Desk Investigations are performed

  • Corroborated & circumstantial evidence

  • What is evidence & how to structure it

  • The Evidence Document

  • The Investigative Mindset

  • Background check

  • Ontario Reverse Address Lookup

  • Canada Reverse People Search

  • Google as an investigative tool, such as reverse ON phone search

  • Social media & investigative web basics using open source intel

  • Daily Surveillance Gear Protocol

  • Data & evidence security

  • Surveillance

  • Surveillance vehicle

  • Surveillance set-up

  • Pre-surveillance research

  • Surveillance communication protocols

  • Clients perspective

  • Active mobile surveillance two or more Investigators

  • Skill vs, luck and circumstances

  • Risk vs. reward

  • Subject identification

  • Understanding & managing Heat

  • Surveillance ON traffic conditions

  • Driving methods for different areas or environments

  • Filming best practices

  • Organizational necessities

  • Transitioning to foot surveillance

  • Transitioning back to a surveillance vehicle

  • Mobile foot surveillance

  • Gearbag

  • Required surveillance equipment

  • Identifying the subject

  • Clothing and props

  • The physics or mechanics of foot surveillance

  • Covert equipment & techniques

  • On foot following techniques & best practices

  • Transitioning in and out of buildings

  • Video framing and quality

  • Executive Protection

  • Surveillance reporting

About the Author
Ontario detective Peter Sandru

Peter is an Instructor & Co-Founder of NDIL with over 15 years as a Professional Private Investigator. Peter has spent more than a decade conducting investigations and security operations throughout the world, primarily for corporations, law firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of numerous investigative & security training programs in various capacities. Thru NDIL, Peter has helped many in ON aspiring to become Toronto Private Investigators.


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