Are You a Licensed Private Investigator in Thailand?
Many people ask us "Are you a licensed private investigator in Thailand?"
There is no Thai government "licensed private investigator" in Thailand.
There is business registration of companies, of course, in general, so anybody can register a company and list private investigations as a business objective, including your novice grandma or your daughter if you have one. However, there is not testing nor licensing of individual private investigators in Thailand.
We have seen people claim to be a licensed private investigator in Thailand, and I sometimes wonder how many potential customers take that claim at face value without actually analyzing whether or not it is true, and licensed by what or who.
If somebody oversells or misleads just to "sell", then what else might they do? There are so many false claims on flashy internet websites .... (By the way, our website was created 100% in house, not with stock art photos of other people taken off the web somewhere...)
As a private investigator myself, I have dealt with a lot of customers who have come to me after being scammed. I give some suggestions below on how you can investigate your investigator before using them. But first let me further discuss the issue of licensing of private investigators.
There have been several times over the years that professional private investigators in Thailand have discussed the possibility of setting up something along these lines -- between some private investigators and investigation companies, and some Thai government officials who have been pulled in, resulting in an ad hoc group who have met based on this proposition, in years past (long ago). Besides the idea of government licensing, there have also been discussions for setting up and establishing a non-governmental trade organization. Neither has resulted in anything significant, as regards private investigators in general. All that has come of it has been some refinement of matters regarding security guards, the vast majority of whom are simply neighborhood security guards. Regarding private investigators, the efforts I know about in the past have bogged down over some issues, and then fizzled out and faded away.
(Notably, the famous international private investigator Miriam Ettisch-Enchelmaier of the Ettisch-Enchelmaier detectives agency (working as a P.I. from 1972 to date) responds in an interview with Voice of America that there is no licensing of private investigators in Germany, and despite her advantageous credentials, why she thinks licensing of private investigators is not such a great idea, though professional business registration is very important. It also turns out to be a similar situation as in Thailand, where investigator groups have forwarded the issue, but the German authorities didn't see a good enough reason for licensing private investigators. This was also the case in England, though in 2013 there was a push for licensing to go forth in 2014. The field of "private investigations" and operations may be too broad and difficult for a government to define, kind've like journalism. Also, as Miriam points out, there are plenty of black sheep among licensed lawyers and politicians who continue to practice. You cannot just go by a license, you really should try to get to know your private investigator. Notably, Miriam initially contacted me for potential work after apparently vetting me.)
Some companies around the world have offered courses for training and resultant certificates, but when people ask about a private investigator "license" in Thailand, they usually mean by the Thai government, not some entity somewhere in the world which sells training courses and certificates. A "license" should be government issued.
Selling certificates is usually a money making business, which can be good if it really requires rigorous training and passing an exam which tests practical skills. They may require you buy an online course to start the process, and then pass their exam. How do you do practical training over the internet? Especially for surveillance and following people? How relevant is an online course by some small entity in another country to private investigations in Thailand? Who is vetting the course provider? How well recognized is it? Each certificate should be researched, to see whether or not it is really a good course, or whether it's basically selling certificates as a business with questionable practical training for Thailand, for example.
Likewise, there are books out there on how to be a private investigator. Some of these I've skimmed and found little new of potential value, but a lot of things missing. Some may be useful for somebody operating in, say, the USA, but we do not carry firearms, we do not do criminal investigations, and we do not need to know all the regulations of states in another country.
No overseas course can sufficiently prepare an investigator to operate effectively in Thailand. For that, you need to know the language, culture (and its many subcultures), geography, governmental systems, social conventions, local laws and regulations, and have a lot of experience in how things work across a broad spectrum of society. Also, you need good contacts.
I've been living and working here since 1994, as can be confirmed. I've seen statements and claims of other people having so many years of experience which are questionable.
The next best thing to licensing is incorporation. A serious private investigator should set up a company. Of course, we have set up our own company, as is clear on this website.
However, just having a registered company, whereby that company has a "business license" to do business in Thailand, in my opinion it would be misleading to claim a person is a "licensed private investigator" based on just a general business license.
You should research the claims of your private investigator. Do they have a registered company? Do they tell you their real name? Very easily, you can check the registration date of their internet domain name by an internet "Whois" service, and compare that to how many years of experience they claim to have. Also, check to see whether their internet domain name is anonymized or reveals who they truly are.
This topic is related to another one on this website on whether you can trust your private investigation company which goes into detail about how you can investigate your investigator.
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