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 guard and private investigators they hire have valid licences
Any business that sells the services of security guards and/or private investigators requires an agency licence. Agencies must ensure they maintain a valid licence and update it when they need to.
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
Security guard or private investigator agencies are required to:
- only hire licensed security guards or private investigators
- ensure their employees maintain a valid licence
If an employee is charged for working without a valid licence, the agency they work for may also face charges.
Agencies are not responsible for getting licences for their employees. Security guards and private investigators are responsible for getting their own licences and renewing them before they expire.
To work as a security guard or private investigator in Ontario, you must have a valid licence.
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 your 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
Agencies that would like to offer training must register as a training provider. They must also comply with all training requirements and ensure that all applicants are trained in compliance the training and testing regulation and training syllabus.
Uniforms and equipment issued to employees
Agencies are responsible for making sure all uniforms for security guards meet all necessary requirements. An agency employing security guards or private investigators may issue equipment, such as:
- batons, during their duties for defensive purposes only
- firearms, only to those with a valid firearms licence and are authorized to carry under section 20 of the Firearms Act
The employer is responsible for determining if their employees should be authorized to use batons, handcuffs and/or firearms and to offer associated training.
It is up to the licensed agency 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 and private investigators who are authorized to carry a firearm. This must occur within five days after the employee receives that authorization.
Any changes, such as revoking an employee’s authorization to use a firearm, must also be submitted to the ministry within five days of the change.
Report use of force
If a security guard or a private investigator uses force while on duty, the licenced agency who employs them is required to:
- complete a Use of Force Report online
- submit it to the Ministry of the Solicitor General via the form
Examples of use of force can include:
- usage of handcuffs, baton, firearm or any weapon
- bodily or physical force used by a private investigator or security guard
- a working dog with a private investigator or security guard attacks a person (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.
Agencies are required to keep all records listed in the Private Security and Investigative Services Act for two years. All records must be provided to the Ministry of the Solicitor General 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 newly 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 (e.g., uniform requirements, vehicle signage, insurance requirements). If an agency is also a security guard and/or private investigator training provider, they will be inspected within 90 days of being issued a licence to ensure their training program adheres to all ministry requirements.
Upon arrival, the compliance inspector assigned to your agency will introduce themselves and show their identification including an appointment card and their badge. The inspection may include:
- discussion with the agency representative
- reviewing files
- collecting documents
- answering any agency representative questions
Regularly scheduled inspections
Our inspectors also conduct scheduled inspections once every two years on every agency to:
- raise awareness of regulatory requirements
- advise agencies of their obligations and responsibilities
- review training programs and syllabi if the agency is registered as a training provider
As part of the inspection, the inspector may check that all documentation required is on file and current.
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 are using properly marked vehicles
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 email@example.com.