Open a detective agency | What you have to pay attention to

Almost every boy (and certainly many a girl) dreams of becoming a detective at some point in their childhood. Spying on shady characters, uncovering secrets and helping to make the world a little bit better – what sounds like a childhood dream to many is a reality for some. The detective profession is still current and quite a few people are thinking about opening their own detective agency . The following article tells you what you have to consider here.

How do I become a detective?

To be able to open a detective agency, you of course have to be a detective. But how do you become that? The private detective profession is not protected in Germany . This means that you don’t have to have any special training or a degree to be allowed to call yourself a detective.

However, anyone who wants to open a detective agency must register a business. At this point there are a few requirements that you as a prospective detective have to meet, because detective agencies belong to the trades that require supervision (Section 38, Paragraph 1 of the Trade Regulations). Your trade license is therefore automatically your surveillance permit, which you must apply to the trade office. For this you need:

  • a police clearance certificate showing that you have a past past criminal record
  • an extract from the central trade register
  • In addition, the registration of a trade is always associated with costs. The amount of the fee depends on the city in which you register your detective agency.

Which legal form is suitable if I want to open a detective agency?

If you want to investigate alone as a private detective, it is advisable to set up a sole proprietorship . This step is associated with a low bureaucratic effort and also does not require fixed start-up capital. The downside of sole proprietorship is private liability. If you set up the detective agency together with a partner (which is quite common), other legal forms such as GmbH , UG (limited liability) or GbR are also conceivable.

What do you need to open a detective agency?

When you have all the bureaucratic hurdles behind you, it is time to start thinking about your equipment. The fact that you as a budding detective do not have to take an exam does not mean that you can rush headlong into the first investigation.

In order to make the work as a detective as professional as possible, you will have to get some initial equipment in the course of your establishment that will help you. Over time and with increasing experience, your equipment will also become more and more extensive. At the beginning you should definitely purchase the following devices and aids:

  • binoculars
  • voice recorder
  • Camera with microphone
  • GPS transmitter
  • Night vision device
  • Mobile phones)
  • office equipment

From this list it quickly becomes clear that starting a detective agency is an expensive undertaking. If you decide to take this step in your career, you should definitely bring the necessary start-up capital with you or take out a loan. Unfortunately, the prospect of investors is not particularly promising in the case of a detective agency.

Acquire the necessary know-how

As mentioned above, as a budding detective you are not required to complete any training or take any exam. Or in other words: Anyone who wants to can call themselves a detective and, after registering a trade, “go ahead and investigate”.

Not only does that sound worrying, it is. The industry suffers severely from the countless black sheep who claim to be experienced detectives but are rarely able to deliver convincing results. If you want to distinguish yourself from these untrustworthy colleagues, it makes sense to complete a “detective training” before you open a detective agency.

Possible contact points for this are:

  • Central office for training in the detective trade (ZAD)
  • Federal Association of German Detectives (BDD)
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK)

Of course, appropriate training is always associated with a lot of effort and costs you not only money but also a lot of time. But you should make it clear to yourself that as a certified detective you will not only exude trust and professionalism, but will also address more (and better paying) customers.

Regardless of whether you complete an apprenticeship before founding a detective agency or not, you should definitely deal with various topics and acquire extensive knowledge. Anyone who wants to open a detective agency and rush to work haphazardly will probably be put in their place after a short time.

As a detective, you are constantly walking on very thin ice. In order not to make yourself liable to prosecution, you should definitely know, for example , what is allowed in Germany with regard to shading and wiretapping of people – and what is not! Even a basic knowledge of psychology, technology, questioning and investigation is guaranteed not to harm you or your business.

Furthermore, you should always strive to get better and better and to continuously expand your knowledge. This is the only way to position yourself in the market in the long term and to assert yourself against the competition.

In order not only to gain theoretical knowledge, but also to gain practical experience, internships in various detective agencies are recommended . Many detectives are open to newcomers to the industry and will be happy to act as your mentor.

What does a detective do? – Duties in a detective agency
Last but not least, a concrete look at the fields of activity of detectives. Even if every child knows this job, very few know what exactly a detective does in his everyday professional life. The following overview sheds light on the darkness.

  • detection
  • Preservation of evidence (usable in court)
  • Observation / shading of people
  • Research
  • Questioning of witnesses and suspects
  • Search for missing people

In general it can be said that the work of a private detective is similar to that of an investigating police officer. In contrast to this, however, the detective is not commissioned by the public prosecutor, but mostly by a private person. Another difference is that a private investigator does not enjoy the same privileges as a police officer. He must therefore always comply with the applicable laws in order not to make himself liable to prosecution.

Requirements for budding detectives
In order to be able to cope with the varied daily work of a detective, you should of course bring a number of qualities and skills with you. The most important requirements for budding detectives are:

  • discretion
  • technical know-how
  • Knowledge in various subject areas
  • physical and mental fitness
  • extensive network / helpful contacts

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