Costs of Hiring a Private Investigator in Canada 2024

A private investigator with his client while discussing costs of an investigation.

Costs of Hiring a Private Investigator in Canada 2024

Are you considering hiring a private investigator in Canada but need clarification on the costs? Then you’re in the right place!

This article will unravel the often complex topic of private investigation costs, breaking it down for you in a straightforward and digestible manner.

Whether it’s a surveillance case, a background check, a digital forensics investigation, or any other service, you’ll get a clear picture of what to anticipate in terms of cost.

We will also explore factors that influence the costs of investigations and tips for reducing the costs of these services.

We understand that you’re seeking reliable and precise information. As a leading private investigation agency in Canada, we’ve been on the field for decades, handling diverse cases that span the breadth and depth of investigative services. We’ve navigated the terrain countless times, making us seasoned experts in this area.

Our team has mastered the art of private investigation and understands the nuances of cost structures and how to manage them effectively. We’ve assisted thousands of individuals like you, delivering quality service while ensuring their investments are worth every penny.

In this article, we’ll lend you our knowledge and insights, allowing you to understand precisely where your money goes when hiring a private investigator.

We’re here to make this process as transparent and understandable as possible for you, and we’re confident that we can do just that. So let’s dive in and shed some light on the costs of hiring a private investigator in Canada.

The Financial Aspect of Private Investigations 

Let’s talk about the financial aspect of private investigations.

You might wonder, “Why does hiring a private investigator cost what it does?” It’s a great question; understanding this is vital to making informed decisions.

First, let’s clear up a common misconception. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all price tag for private investigative services. The costs vary depending on the type of service you need, the complexity of the case, and the time and resources required.

Like other professionals, private investigators receive payment for their time, skills, and expertise. They use various tools and techniques to get the job done, which requires investment.

Think of surveillance cases, for instance. These investigations often involve long hours, sometimes stretching into the night, using specialized equipment and a keen eye for detail.

Then some cases involve locating individuals or performing background checks. These services often require access to databases and various resources, which entail additional expenses. The charges you incur cover the usage of these essential tools and the time and professional knowledge needed for precise data analysis.

Digital forensics is another example where costs can vary. These cases require specialized skills to retrieve, preserve, and analyze digital data. Because of the intricate nature of this work, it can influence the overall cost.

Every investigation is unique, just like your situation. It’s about understanding what goes into an investigation and why certain aspects might cost more than others.

Remember, when hiring a private investigator, you’re not just paying for a service but investing. You’re investing in professional expertise, years of experience, and specialized resources that can provide you with the information or resolution you need.

How Much Are Private Investigators in Canada in 2024?

  • Surveillance: $75 per hour, $0.79 per km
  • Locating Individuals: $450
  • Background Checks: $550 to $1,000
  • OSINT/Social Media Investigations: $500 to $3,000
  • Witness Interviews and Trademark Infringement: $95 per hour
  • Due Diligence Cases: $650 to $1,600
  • Digital Forensics: $700
  • Polygraph / Lie Detector Tests: $600
  • Bug Sweeps / TSCM: $1,000 and $5,000+

Factors That Influence Investigation Costs 

Now, let’s explore the factors that influence the cost of an investigation. You’ll see that several elements come into play when determining the price.

1.      Type of Investigation:

As you might expect, different investigations come with varying fees. Surveillance and undercover investigations typically require an investment in both time and equipment, leading to a higher cost.

Conversely, locating individuals or conducting background checks have different flat rates. Due to their specialized nature, digital forensics and technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM) might have different pricing.

2.      Complexity of the Case:

Simple cases can take less time and require fewer resources so they may cost less. However, more complex investigations, especially those that need special skills or involve significant risk, can be more costly.

The difficulty level can impact the number of hours an investigator must dedicate to your case, influencing the overall cost.

3.      Time and Duration:

The longer an investigation takes, the more it’s likely to cost. This time applies to the case’s total duration and the hours worked each day. 

4.      Resources Needed:

The need for special equipment or access to particular databases or records can also impact the cost. For example, investigators might need specialized software tools to recover and analyze data in digital forensics cases.

5.      Travel and Mileage:

If an investigator needs to travel for your case, travel time and expenses, such as mileage, airfare, or accommodation, can add to the overall cost.

6.      Reporting Requirements:

Depending on your needs, you might require detailed reports or video documentation. Preparing these reports involves time and expertise, contributing to the cost.

Remember, these factors are designed not to confuse or overwhelm you but to provide a clear picture of what contributes to the cost of hiring a private investigator. With an understanding of these elements, you’ll be better prepared to discuss your needs and budget with a private investigator.

In the following sections, we’ll break down the costs associated with specific types of investigations.

Types of Investigation Services and Their Costs

There are various types of investigations, each tailored to meet a specific need. One type is more suited to your situation than another, or you may require a combination of several services.

Each service requires different resources, skills, and time commitments, influencing the overall cost. To comprehensively understand what hiring a private investigator involves, we will break down these services individually.

Stick around, and you’ll learn the ins and outs of each service and, more importantly, how they might apply to your unique situation.

Surveillance and Undercover Investigations 

First on the list are surveillance and undercover investigations. These are unique as they often involve a blend of fieldwork, technology, and strategy.

Surveillance is an effective solution for obtaining evidence in: 

Usually, we base the cost of this type of investigation on an hourly rate. The more time it takes to gather the needed information, the more it will cost.

It is challenging for investigators to estimate a set number of hours for a case. The actual time is often very dependent on individual circumstances.

In addition to the hourly rate, mileage is another factor. Suppose an investigator has to travel or follow a subject around in a vehicle. In such a case, we often add the mileage cost to the total. These mileage fees cover the wear and tear on the surveillance vehicle and the fuel used during the investigation.

Out-of-pocket expenses are also a factor in the overall cost. These are costs that the investigator incurs while working on your case, like parking fees, tolls, or entrance fees to specific locations.

Lastly, office fees for report and video preparation can add to the cost. After all, it’s not just about collecting the information; it’s about presenting it clearly and in an easy-to-understand way. This process requires time and expertise and is an essential part of any investigation.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd., our surveillance rates are:

  • $75 per hour
  • $0.79 per km
  • $100 office fee for the report, video, and photographs.
  • Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses

So, when considering surveillance and undercover investigations, remember to budget for the hourly rate, mileage, out-of-pocket expenses, and office fees.

Our article on the Costs of Hiring a Private Investigator for Surveillance further details these costs and provides case studies as examples and alternatives to these services.  

In the next section, we’ll explore the costs of locating individuals.

Locating Individuals 

If you’re looking to locate someone, a private investigator can help.

The cost of locating individuals is typically a flat rate. That means you’ll know upfront how much it will cost, regardless of how much time the investigator spends on your case.

But why a flat rate? Over time, investigators have gotten a good sense of the average amount of time and resources it takes to find someone. They’re able to bundle all these expected costs into one price. It’s like buying a complete package instead of separate services.

The flat rate usually covers the time spent searching databases, making phone calls, and performing other research.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd., our rate for locating the address of an individual is $450.

When you hire an investigator, you’re not just paying for their time; you’re paying for their expertise.

Next, let’s discuss the costs of conducting background checks.

Background Checks 

Background checks are an essential tool that businesses, landlords, and individuals use.

You may hire new employees, rent a property, or even date someone new. You’d want to know you’re making the right decision, wouldn’t you? A background check can provide that peace of mind.

The cost of a background check is often set based on the depth and breadth of the information you seek. You might be interested in quickly verifying your identity and criminal record. Or you may require a more in-depth analysis, such as checking educational credentials, previous employment history, or references.

When it comes to costs, less comprehensive background checks can be more affordable, while more extensive ones will cost more. This difference arises because the more information you request, the more time and resources are needed to gather and verify that information.

Just remember, not all background checks are created equal. Some may only cover local or national databases, while others might tap into international sources of information. So, when determining the right kind of background check, consider what information you need.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that we gather all this information in compliance with privacy laws. It’s about keeping you informed and safe, not breaching someone’s privacy.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd., our basic rates for background checks on individuals are $550, which includes the costs of retrieving up to two documents. Extensive background checks could cost up to $1000, depending on the expenses incurred from the number of records retrieved.

Now, let’s move on to our next section, discussing the costs associated with OSINT, open-source intelligence, and social media investigations.

OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) / Social Media Investigations 

Open-source intelligence, or OSINT, and social media investigations are relatively new fields in private investigation. In our digital age, you’d be amazed by the online information. It’s like a goldmine for investigators.

OSINT involves using publicly available sources to gather information, while social media investigations focus on combing through social networking sites. Whether looking into a potential business partner’s history or trying to understand a person’s habits and connections, these tools can be beneficial.

The cost of these services can vary widely, depending on the scope and complexity of the case.

For a simple OSINT investigation, the price could be lower. But you’re looking for a deep dive into a person’s digital footprint on various social networks. In that case, it will require more hours of investigative work and, thus, be more costly.

Remember, investigators need to sift through vast amounts of data, identify valuable information, and analyze it to form a coherent picture. This research requires highly specialized skills, not to mention the time spent. That’s why the cost might seem high.

However, the insights these types of investigations can provide are often invaluable. They can uncover information that would not be available through traditional investigation methods.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd., our rates for OSINT / social media investigations are $125 per hour. The overall costs range from $500 to $1,000 for the most typical cases, $1,000 to $3,000 for more comprehensive investigations, and over $3,000 for highly complex cases.  

Our article on the Costs of OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence) / Social Media Investigations goes into further detail. It also includes steps on how to get started.

In our next section, we’ll investigate the costs of conducting witness interviews. Let’s continue our exploration!

Witness Interviews 

Witness interviews can play a crucial role in an investigation.

Conducting a witness interview becomes necessary if you need to uncover information that only a specific person might know. But what does this involve, and what will it cost?

First, there’s the planning stage. An investigator must do their homework to understand the context of the situation and what questions to ask. This stage can take up a significant amount of time.

Then, there’s the actual interview. Depending on the situation, this interview could range from a short conversation to a lengthy, detailed discussion.

After the interview, the investigator will prepare a detailed report summarizing what they learned. Sometimes, the investigator may need to revisit the interviewee for additional clarification or new questions that arise during the investigation.

We typically bill these services at an hourly rate.

Also, if the witness lives far away, there may be additional costs for mileage and out-of-pocket expenses. It’s important to remember that the investigator’s time, expertise, and the information they gather are valuable. They can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd, our rates for witness interviews are:

  • $95 per hour for planning, interview time, and report preparation
  • $75 per hour for travel
  • $0.79 per km
  • Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses

In the following section, we’ll dive into due diligence cases. So, please stick with us as we unravel the costs of hiring a private investigator!

Due Diligence Cases 

We are moving on to due diligence cases – which are essential to many business transactions and deals.

If you’re considering a significant investment or partnership, doing your due diligence is necessary. This process helps you to uncover any potential risks or hidden issues.

But what costs are involved when hiring a private investigator for due diligence?

Due diligence cases typically involve a basic or enhanced search. A basic search will apply an initial analysis of the subject or entity. In contrast, an enhanced search is a more detailed investigation. The costs are usually flat depending on the search depth you require.

Additional fees might be necessary for site checks.

An investigator may need to physically visit a location to verify the information or uncover any visible issues not disclosed or apparent from documents alone. This optional service can provide valuable insights that could significantly impact your decisions.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd, our rates for due diligence cases are $650 for a basic search, $1600 for an enhanced search, and $150 for business site checks within the lower mainland area of BC.

Next, let’s shift our focus to trademark infringement investigations. Keep reading to learn more about what’s involved and what costs you might expect.

Trademark Infringement Investigations 

Diving into trademark infringement investigations now, you might need a private investigator if you suspect someone is illegally using your registered trademark. Such cases are crucial to safeguard your brand identity and intellectual property.

These investigations often involve hourly rates, mileage, and out-of-pocket expenses like surveillance and undercover work. Why is that? Well, investigators must gather evidence by scrutinizing the suspected party’s online and offline business operations.

This evidence gathering could include visiting stores or factories, acquiring products, documenting the use of the trademark, and conducting online research.

There’s also a chance for additional office reports and video preparation fees. Why video? Sometimes, video evidence is the most compelling way to demonstrate a trademark infringement, and the investigator professionally prepares these visuals.

Remember, it’s your brand on the line here. While costs can vary, investing in an investigation can ultimately protect your business and its reputation.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd., our rates for trademark infringement investigations are:

  • $95 per hour for any undercover or surveillance work and report and video preparation.
  • $75 per hour for travel time
  • $0.79 per km
  • Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses

Now, let’s venture into the digital realm and examine the costs associated with digital forensics investigations. Stay tuned!

Digital Forensics 

All right, let’s talk digital forensics. If you’ve got an issue involving electronic devices or online data, this is the service you need.

What does a digital forensics investigation involve?

It’s a process where investigators recover, analyze, and interpret digital data from electronic devices. This analysis can help in various situations, such as cybercrime, fraud investigations, or even disputes over intellectual property rights.

However, digital forensics pricing differs from the other services we’ve discussed so far. The rates here can vary because of the specialized skills required and the amount of data that needs to be processed.

Specialized skills, you ask? Absolutely.

Digital forensics professionals are skilled in understanding the intricacies of electronic systems and software, and they have the expertise to retrieve data without damaging or altering it, which is critical in legal matters.

As for the data, imagine you have a device with a terabyte of data to sift through. The process will take longer and thus cost more than a device with just a gigabyte of data. 

At Shadow Investigations Ltd., the digital forensic services for a mobile phone or laptop are $700 per device.

Next up, we’ll explore the costs of polygraph services. So if you’ve ever been curious about lie detector tests, stick around!

Polygraph Services 

Moving on, let’s delve into the world of polygraph services. You might know these as lie detector tests, a tool often seen in movies and TV shows. But did you know they have real-world applications too?

Polygraph services involve tests that measure physiological responses to specific questions. These reactions are then analyzed to determine the likelihood of truthfulness.

It’s a fascinating process in everything from pre-employment screenings to criminal investigations.

Regarding costs, we charge polygraph services at a flat rate.

This rate covers the time and expertise of the polygraph examiner, who not only administers the test but also interprets the data and provides a report.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd, the rate for polygraph services is $600.

Next, we’ll discuss Bug Sweeps / Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM), an essential aspect of ensuring privacy and security. So, if you’ve ever wondered how to ensure your conversations stay private, keep reading!

Bug Sweeps / Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM) 

In the final stretch of our exploration, let’s turn our attention to Bug Sweeps / Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM).

Have you ever wondered how you can ensure your private conversations remain private? TSCM is the answer.

In a world where technology and privacy often clash, TSCM provides a safeguard. It involves sweeping for and neutralizing surveillance devices, like hidden cameras or microphones. These devices could lurk anywhere: your office, home, or even your car.

The cost of TSCM services can vary. Why? Because it depends on the location type and size.

A small apartment will take less time and resources to sweep than a large office building. The number of locations that need checking also impacts the price. More locations mean more time and resources, leading to a higher cost.

Remember, it’s not just about finding bugs. It’s also about ensuring they don’t reappear. So, alongside the sweep, professionals can also advise on preventive measures.

At Shadow Investigations Ltd, bug sweep services typically cost between $1,000 and $5,000+.

We’ve covered the spectrum of private investigation services and their respective costs. Now let’s go over some tips for reducing the costs of these services.

Tips for Reducing the Costs of Private Investigation Services

While private investigation services are often indispensable, we understand that clients want to manage costs effectively. Here are a few suggestions that can help control your investigative expenses without compromising the quality of the results:

1.      Be Clear and Specific about Your Objectives:

The more precise you are with your goals, the less time investigators spend trying to determine relevant information. By outlining what you hope to achieve from the investigation from the onset, you can help focus the effort and potentially save time and money.

2.      Provide Detailed Information:

The more information you provide upfront, the fewer hours investigators need to gather essential details. These details include addresses, names, photographs, known associates, routines, or any information you think is relevant to the investigation.

3.      Prioritize Your Needs:

Not all services may be necessary for your specific situation. Talk to your investigator about what you believe you need and allow them to suggest the most efficient way to obtain that information. They can help you prioritize the most impactful services to your case.

4.      Maintain Open Communication:

Be sure to stay in touch with your investigator and request regular updates on the progress of the investigation. These updates help you stay informed and control costs by adjusting the strategy if necessary.

5.      Trust Your Investigator’s Expertise:

Experienced investigators know how to work efficiently and effectively. Trust their guidance on the best course of action to take.

Remember, while cost is essential, the cheapest option is not always the best. It’s crucial to balance cost considerations with the potential value and impact of the investigative results.

A successful investigation can often pay for itself by preventing losses or aiding in the recovery of assets.

It’s been a journey full of insights, and hopefully, it’s provided you with the clarity you sought. Let’s wrap things up in the next section.

Next Steps

So, you’ve read about the costs, the services, and the factors influencing the prices of hiring a private investigator. What’s next?

The first step is reaching out. Connect with a professional private investigator and share your situation with them. This interaction isn’t just a business transaction – it’s a partnership.

It would help if you had someone who listens to your concerns, understands your unique needs, and can guide you on the best path forward. That’s where we come in.

Don’t worry about sorting out all the details – that’s our job. Your job is to take that first step and reach out.

For a complimentary, obligation-free consultation, please get in touch with us at, or fill out our contact form below with your preferred contact method and a brief overview of what you would like assistance with. We keep all information confidential and only use contact information to respond to inquiries.

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About the Author

Photograph of Janet Helm, the Co-Founder and current Managing Director of Shadow Investigations Ltd.