Requirements for security guard and private investigator agencies
Learn about the responsibilities and requirements of security guard and private investigator licensed agencies.
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Security guard or private investigator agencies:
- Must comply with the Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA) and all regulations. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $250,000. Directors, partners and officers of an agency can also face imprisonment of up to one year for failure to comply with the PSISA.
- Must comply with all federal and provincial legislation such as the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Find tools for employers to help understand the act.
- Should be familiar with the Trespass to Property Act, the Criminal Code, and all other relevant laws and regulations.
This page outlines the requirements and responsibilities of security guard and private investigator agencies.
Learn about the requirements for security guards and private investigators.
Maintain a valid licence
A security guard or private investigator agency must:
- have and maintain a valid agency licence
- ensure the security guards and private investigators they hire have valid licences
Anyone seeking to sell the services of security guards or private investigators requires an agency licence. Agencies must ensure they maintain a valid licence.
Agencies must update their information on file through ServiceOntario immediately if any of the following changes:
- business name
- business address or other contact information
- sole proprietors, officers, directors and partners
- branch offices
- uniform design
- marked vehicle design
Security guard or private investigator agencies are required to only hire licensed security guards or private investigators. If a security guard or private investigator employed by the agency is charged for working without a valid licence, the agency they work for may also face charges.
Agencies are not responsible for obtaining licences for their security guards or private investigators. Security guards or private investigators are responsible for obtaining their own licences and renewing them.
Individual security guard and private investigator licences can be verified online through ServiceOntario.
Mailing address and business premises
Agencies must provide an Ontario mailing address where the business will operate. This does not have to be a commercial location.
Agencies must display their agency licence in a visible spot in the office where they deal with the public.
It is the agency’s responsibility to ensure that the business premises or offices:
- are not in contravention of any municipal by-laws or zoning regulations
- comply with all other municipal, provincial and federal laws
Training and first aid
Organizations that would like to offer training for testing and licensing purposes must enroll on the Training Registration Venue with Serco Canada Inc. as a training provider. Enrolled organizations include:
- licensed agencies
- registered business entities
- public universities
- career colleges
- community colleges
Training providers must ensure that their training complies with the training and testing regulation and training syllabus for security guards or private investigators under the PSISA. They must also comply with all training requirements.
Emergency first aid training should include:
- emergency scene management
- unconsciousness and fainting
- adult choking
- severe bleeding
- one rescuer adult CPR
Find out more information on how to become a training provider.
Uniforms and equipment issued to employees
Agencies are responsible for ensuring all uniforms for security guards meet the necessary requirements. An agency employing security guards may determine if their employees are authorized to use equipment, and issue to them:
- batons, during their duties for defensive purposes only
- a firearm (only to security guards who have a valid firearms licence and an Authorization to Carry)
While on duty, armed security guards must always carry and present upon request their firearms licence and an Authorization to Carry issued by the federal government, as required by the Firearms Act and the Authorizations to Carry Restricted Firearms and Certain Handgun Regulations.
Private investigators may use batons and handcuffs as part of their duties if they are issued by their employer.
It is the licensed agency’s responsibility to have adequate insurance to cover any risks associated with having employees carry this equipment.
Notifying the ministry of armed employees
Licensed agencies are required to notify the Ministry of the Solicitor General, in writing, with the names of all security guards who are authorized to carry a firearm under the Firearms Act. This must occur within five days after the employee receives that authorization or where an individual with the authorization becomes an employee of the agency.
Any changes, such as an employee ceasing to have authorization to carry a firearm or ceasing to be employed by an agency, must also be submitted to the ministry within five days of the change.
Under the Firearms Act, individuals are also required to notify the Chief Firearms Officer of any change to the status of their authorization to carry.
Report use of force
The employer must ensure that each security guard and private investigator is trained in use of force options. If a security guard or a private investigator uses force while on duty, the agency who employs them is required to complete a Use of Force Report.
Examples of use of force can include:
- use of handcuffs, baton, firearm or any weapon
- use of bodily or physical force by a security guard or private investigator
- an attack by a working dog being used by a security guard or private investigator (see the Use of Animals regulation)
Agencies must keep all Use of Force reports on file for at least two years, or until the conclusion of any related investigation, inspection, complaint, court proceeding or administrative proceeding.
Under the Firearms Act, if a firearm is drawn or discharged on duty, local police and the Chief Firearms Officer must be notified immediately by the authorization holder.
Agencies are required to keep all records listed in the Recordkeeping Requirements for Licensed Business Entities regulation for two years. Agencies must also ensure their employees follow all record keeping requirements related to use of force. All records must be provided to the ministry upon request.
If the records are part of an ongoing investigation, inspection, complaint or legal case, they should be kept until the situation is fully resolved.
New agency inspections
All new licensed agencies are contacted by a compliance inspector within 30 days of their licence issue date to discuss licensing requirements and obligations. A compliance inspection will be conducted within six months to ensure the agency is compliant with the PSISA and its regulations. For example, this can include:
- uniform requirements
- vehicle signage
- insurance requirements
If an agency is also seeking to provide training to security guards or private investigators for testing and licensing purposes, its training program will be inspected prior to enrolling with the ministry as a training provider. This inspection will ensure the program adheres to all ministry requirements.
Compliance inspectors assigned to inspect an agency will identify themselves and show their identification including an appointment card and their badge. The inspection may include:
- discussion with the agency representative
- reviewing files, websites, and advertisements
- collecting documents
- answering any agency representative questions
Regularly scheduled inspections
Inspectors also conduct scheduled inspections once every two years on every agency to:
- ensure awareness of regulatory requirements
- ensure compliance with regulatory requirements such as recordkeeping
- review training programs to ensure compliance with minimum ministry requirements if the agency is enrolled as a training provider
Ad hoc inspections
Inspectors routinely conduct ad hoc inspections of agencies and sites where security guards are employed to:
- follow up on a reported issue of non-compliance
- check to ensure individual security guards have the correct uniform and a valid security guard licence
Some of these visits are unannounced and others will be scheduled.
Inspection follow up
When an inspection is complete, the agency will receive a post-inspection letter by email confirming whether they were found compliant or non-compliant.
An agency is expected to correct all non-compliant areas within 30, 60, or 90 days of receiving the post-inspection letter, depending on the type of non-compliance identified. A follow-up inspection will be scheduled.
Failure to correct the non-compliant areas can lead to:
- conditions being placed on the license
- licence suspension or licence revocation
- charges being laid
If you have any questions or concerns about inspections, you may contact PSISB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to agency operations
If the agency closes or suspends operations, the owner or operator must notify the ministry immediately in writing. The letter must include:
- a letterhead with the agency name
- licence number
- director’s signature
The letter can be emailed to PSISB.Compliance@ontario.ca, or mailed to:
Private Security and Investigative Services Branch
25 Grosvenor Street, 12th Floor
Toronto Ontario, M7A 2H3
New ownership of agency
When an agency changes ownership or has a new director, the new owner or director must notify ServiceOntario and ask the registrar to let operations continue during the transition. The notification can be made either by sending an email to PrivateSecurity@ontario.ca or by mailing a letter to:
Occupational Licensing Services Office
PO Box 4500 Kingston Ontario K7L 0E1