Private Investigative Business

Department of Public Safety


A Private Investigation License enables an individual licensee to provide private investigation services for the purposes of: obtaining information on habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, associations, transactions, reputations or character of individuals; examining the credibility of witnesses or other persons; obtaining information leading to the recovery of lost or stolen property; determining the cause of or responsibility for fires, accidents or injuries to property; and, locating missing persons. They write reports about investigations or findings for clients, report criminal information to police and testify in court. Acting as a polygraph examiner requires a license as a private investigator.

Code Citation Iowa Code Chapter 80A; Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 121

Who Applies An individual or business must possess a license to perform investigative services in the State of Iowa. Employees of the agency must apply for an identification card.

When To Apply Before investigative services are provided in Iowa.

Initial Requirements Any person wishing to obtain a license to operate an independent private investigation agency must: 1) be at least 18 years of age and a citizen of the United States 2) be of good moral character, have no convictions for an aggravated misdemeanor or a felony, and have never been convicted of assault resulting from domestic abuse 3) not be an abuser of alcohol or controlled substance, nor have a history of mental illness, instability or a history of repeated acts of violence 4) submit photos, fingerprints and license fee(s), along with a completed application, to the Commissioner of Public Safety 5) be able to show proof of liability (insurance)and must be approved for a $5,000 surety bond; this will be $10,000 if applying for more than one license under this chapter. For those wishing to work as an employee for a licensed agency, only the first four requirements above apply. The agency purchases applications ($10 each) from the Department of Public Safety prior to completion by the employee.

Duration Two years.

Processing Time Ten days.

Fee Structure License: $100 – license $30 – fingerprint fee for each licensee $10 – Identification Card fee (one card needed, regardless of number of license types; no expiration, to work for that particular agency only) Renewal: $100 – for each two-year license $30 – fingerprint fee for each licensee holder. Other: $10 – Application Packet (if requesting in-person) $15 – Application Packet (by mail) Free application materials are available on the department\’s website.

Renewal Requirements During the two-year period preceding the agency license expiration date, license holders and their employees must complete a minimum of twelve hours of acceptable continuing education courses.

Exam None.

Additional Information None.

Services Provided

Service Category

  • Service SubCategory
Contact Information
Lisa Lampe
Oran Pape Building
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319