How to Become a Private Investigator According to Current Italian Law. Differences Between Licensed and Employee Private Investigators. Operational Areas.

The figure of the private investigator (in English private eye or private detective) holds a particular fascination in the collective imagination, stemming from the novels of great hardboiled fiction authors such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, or Mickey Spillane and American TV shows like Mike Hammer – Private Investigator.

But what does a private investigator actually do in reality?

Well, if you have a bit of patience, you will find out.

How to Become a Private Investigator

What does a private investigator do?

What does a private investigator do?

In Italy, the profession of private detective is regulated by D. M. 269/10 (updated in 2016), which has made the previous provisions of the Consolidated Law on Public Security of 1931 more stringent.

In general, this professional is a private citizen who professionally conducts investigative activities with a license issued by the competent authority to archive and document evidence (surveillance, tailing, photos, and all other materials collected during investigations).

The current law provides for two types of private investigators:

  1. Licensed private investigator
  2. Employee private investigator

To become a licensed private investigator, the following requirements are needed:

  • A degree in one of the following disciplines: Law, Political Science, Investigative Science, Forensic Psychology, Sociology, Economics, or equivalent courses.
  • At least three years of work experience with a private investigator or investigative agency that has held a license for at least five years and can attest to the continuity and positive outcome of the employment relationship.
  • Participation in theoretical and practical advanced courses in private investigations organized by entities recognized by the Regions and accredited by the Ministry of the Interior – Department of Public Security or having performed investigative activities in the police forces for no less than five years and having been honorably discharged within the last four years.
  • No criminal convictions for non-negligent crimes.

To become an employee private investigator, the following requirements are needed:

  • High school diploma.
  • At least three years of successful practice as an assistant in elementary investigations with a licensed private investigator for no less than five years, who can attest to the continuity of an employment relationship of at least 80 hours per month with a positive outcome.
  • Participation in theoretical and practical advanced courses in private investigations organized by entities recognized by the Regions and accredited by the Ministry of the Interior – Department of Public Security or having performed investigative activities in the police forces for no less than five years.
  • No criminal convictions for non-negligent crimes.

Here you can find the History of the first private investigators in America.

What Does a Licensed Private Investigator Do?

A private investigator is a professional in information gathering and evidence collection on behalf of their client.

They cut through the fog of appearances to bring the truth to light.

Their services are useful for resolving personal, financial, or legal matters.

The material they collect can be used as evidence in civil and criminal trials.

For this reason, nowadays, this profession requires very specific skills.

One cannot improvise.

Nothing can be left to chance.

Once a client is acquired, the core of a private detective’s work consists of:

  • Searching for information and evidence.
  • Acquiring said information.
  • Optimizing the quality of the collected evidence.
  • Ensuring the successful completion of the task.
  • The search for information and evidence is a fundamental part of a private detective’s work because in no case can a private investigator leave anything to chance, leveraging their professional competence for
  • Reworking the collected material to present it to the client in a detailed report.

To do this, a private investigation professional will develop a work plan and all the necessary means to achieve the client’s goal.

They will then leave their office to perform all the necessary actions to investigate in the field and collect the needed information.

Enjoying full autonomy in executing their activity, they can carry out:

  • Surveillance
  • Tailing
  • Interviews
  • Online research or public database searches

Among the various types of investigations an investigative agent can conduct are:

Additionally, a private investigator may be tasked with activities in the following fields:

And much more, both in the field of corporate investigations and those for private individuals.

What a Private Investigator Cannot Do in Italy

A private investigator in Italy has legal limitations defining what they cannot do during their investigative activities. For example, a private investigator cannot use wiretapping or electronic surveillance, nor can they illegally access others’ computer systems.

They cannot tap someone else’s phone, request phone records, or spy on the content of chats, instant messages like Telegram or WhatsApp, SMS, or emails. Additionally, intrusions into private places without authorization are strictly prohibited.

The same applies to audio and video recordings in domestic settings, which are only allowed if previously authorized.

These restrictions are fundamental to ensuring the respect for citizens’ privacy and adherence to the law during investigations conducted by private investigators in Italy.

Private Investigator Skills

A private investigator conducts various types of investigations, each requiring specific skills. These include:

  • Private Investigations: These investigations cover family and marital matters, such as marital infidelity and evidence collection for child custody requests. They can also cover asset-related matters, such as debt recovery and locating debtors, as well as searching for missing persons.
  • Corporate and Commercial Investigations: These investigations aim to protect corporate rights in court and can involve illegal acts, unfair competition, and professional infidelity. They can also verify the financial and reputational reliability of individuals or companies.
  • Insurance Investigations: Often requested by insurance companies, these investigations aim to determine the dynamics of accidents and professional liability to prevent insurance fraud.
  • Defensive Investigations: These are aimed at gathering evidence useful in criminalproceedings and can include interviews with witnesses and access to locations to examine their state.
  • Special Investigations: These activities are regulated by ministerial decrees or special laws and may require the permanent presence of staff at the client’s premises.

How Much Does a Private Investigator Earn?

The salary of a private investigator can vary greatly depending on their skills, the nature of the investigation, and its complexity. It is essential to provide clients with clear estimates before starting an investigation to ensure transparency.

How Much Does a Private Investigator Cost?

Considering that the cost of a private investigator, according to the 2021 prefecture tables, ranges from a minimum of €75.00 to a maximum of €400.00 per hour and that, in the best-case scenario, in 3 or 4 days of work (an average of 4 or 5 hours of work per day) it is possible to gather evidence of a private investigation (e.g., infidelity), one should budget at least €900.00.

Hourly rate = from €75.00

In 99% of cases, based on our experience, around one thousand euros is enough to uncover an infidelity.

A professional investigator not only accounts for their skills but also bears the criminal and civil responsibilities of their work.

Therefore, beware of those investigative agencies that advertise lower prices on their websites, as to comply with the law-imposed rates, they will likely add extra charges to your bill that were not disclosed initially.

A Team of Experts for Successful Investigations

When it comes to complex and well-executed investigations, the Group Top Secret Investigative Agency brings together a team of highly specialized professionals, each with a specific role in conducting investigations and drafting judicial reports. Within the agency, various professional figures work, each dedicated to their area of expertise. Let’s find out who they are.

  1. Investigative Operator: The operational private investigators are the operational force of the agency, tasked with conducting surveillance and tailing activities using advanced techniques, including satellite devices. During operational investigations, their main objective is to gather video and photographic evidence to support any legal actions, and they can also testify in court about their experiences and observations.
  2. Forensic Analyst: These specialists are responsible for identifying, preserving, and analyzing information contained in digital devices. They use advanced forensic methods, such as hashing and the chain of custody, to ensure data integrity during collection and analysis. Their work includes searching for spy software, forensic data analysis, and extracting digital evidence, all aimed at providing valid legal testimony.
  3. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO): These highly qualified professionals have the responsibility of ensuring information security within a company. They define, design, and monitor corporate security programs, using advanced techniques such as penetration testing, vulnerability analysis of computer systems, and implementing strong authentication. The CISO is crucial in ensuring that corporate data is safe and protected.
  4. Financial Analyst: This specialized figure handles the analysis and evaluation of a company’s financial situation. Through the study of financial statements and economic prospects, they provide a clear view of the company’s asset solidity, profitability, and any critical issues. The financial analyst can identify relevant information on movable assets, banking relationships, and assets, significantly contributing to investigations.
  5. Intelligence Analyst: The investigative analysts are responsible for the gathering and analysis of information from various sources. The intelligence analyst produces useful reports for investigative strategies, covering a wide range of topics such as economic, political, social, and criminal issues. They use advanced tools to archive and search for information online, creating descriptive documents and relational maps of the acquired information.
  6. Investigative Psychologist: This professional contributes to the planning of investigative strategies, providing a psychological perspective on the behavior of the involved subjects. With a psychological approach, they analyze written texts to identify the authors of anonymous letters, assess threats and harassment, providing important information for ongoing investigations.

The Group Top Secret Investigative Agency relies on a team of highly qualified private investigators, each specialized in their field, ensuring a comprehensive approach to investigations and satisfactory results for clients.


In Italy, the fascinating and mysterious activity of a private investigator is regulated by D. M. 269/10 and subsequent updates.

This law establishes the requirements by which a private citizen can become a private detective.

Once this status is acquired, the investigative professional can work for their client to search for information and evidence to be documented in a report that can also be used by the client during a civil or criminal trial.

In addition to these activities, the private investigator can be called upon to perform other crime prevention activities, such as those related to cybersecurity.

Other resources:
Operational provisions for the implementation of Ministerial Decree 1.12.2010, nr.269, regarding the technical capacity and quality of services of private security and investigation institutes (pdf).

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