Updated July 13, 2020:

Starting a security company in California requires meeting the specific rules for security firms in the state. In addition to undergoing a background check, you'll need to pay a fee and acquire an insurance policy.

Starting Your Security Company

In California, security companies are under the governance of the Department of Consumer Affairs. In addition to regulating these companies, the Department also issues licenses. If you want to start a security company in this state, you need to submit an application for a license and hire a manager for your company that meets certain qualifications.

The person or entity that owns the security company is known as the Private Patrol Operator (PPO). While many PPOs are individuals, partnerships and corporations are also allowed to own security companies.

To get licensed as a PPO, you must fulfill several requirements:

  1. You should be over the age of 18.
  2. You must submit to both an FBI and California Department of Justice background check.
  3. You cannot have violated the Private Security Services Act in a manner that would cause a license suspension or revocation.
  4. You'll need to pay a $550 fee for your qualified manager application and a $770 fee for your license.
  5. You will need to visit a live scan facility and pay the required fees. Your fees should be $51 and the cost of the scan should be $25.
  6. You'll need to purchase an insurance policy for commercial liability. The amount you will pay for your policy depends on how much coverage you choose.

Before you will be legally allowed to operate your security business, you must hire a Qualified Manager. If you are the PPO, you have the option of serving as your own Qualified Manager as long as you can fulfill the following qualifications:

  1. Be older than 18.
  2. Undergo a background check of your criminal history.
  3. Have not violated the Private Security Services Act.
  4. Have at least 2,000 hours of experience as a guard or similar profession.
  5. Receive a passing grade in an exam on the Private Security Services Act. This exam will take two hours, and will test you on a variety of categories related to security. Before the exam, you should review the Private Security Services Act.
  6. Submit a Qualified Manager application and pay $550 for your exam and your application. You will also need to submit two passport-style photographs and a signed form proving you have completed a live scan.
  7. Pay the live scan cost and state fees.

Other Requirements for Starting Your Company

California requires that a variety of people within your security company submit to a background check and provide a photo identification:

  • Owners
  • Partners
  • Officers

All employees of a security company need to be licensed, and employees should always have their license with them. If you're hiring an outside person to serve as your Qualified Manager, you can check their qualifications on the website of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

The application you need to submit to receive a license for your company is available online. When filling out the application, be sure to list the information required by the Department of Consumer Affairs:

  1. The name of your security company and its business address.
  2. The name of your Qualified Manager.
  3. Your Qualified Manager's license number.
  4. The structure of your business.
  5. Contact information for officers, owners, and partners.

Once your application is complete, you should date the form and get signatures from the officers, partners, and owners. For every person listed in your application, you will need to submit a Personal ID Form. Every Personal ID Form should include a photograph of the person listed on the form.

After you have gathered the photographs and Personal ID Forms for the appropriate people, you should visit a live scan site to have these documents verified. You will also need to pay a state and federal background check fee. When registering your company, you will also need to submit a Request Authorization of Business Name application. You should list five potential names for your security company on this form. Put the name you prefer the most at the top of this list.

You should keep copies of every document you submit when forming your company.

California security companies need an insurance policy with at least $1,000,000 in coverage for certain types of losses:

  1. Bodily harm
  2. Property destruction
  3. Death

If you need help starting a security company in California, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.