We often get asked, “How much does a private investigator cost?” In this article, we will cover the costs of hiring a private investigator and explain why in some circumstances costs will differ.

Hiring a private investigator can be a tough choice for some as it’s difficult to know how much the service is going to cost before hiring a detective agency.  Hiring a private detective isn’t like going out to the supermarket and buying a product off the shelf as all investigations are different and you also need to take into consideration the level of experience of the private detective.

The final cost of an investigation will be determined by the amount of time spent on the project,  The service that is being carried out, and the level of the experience of the private investigator.

In this price guide, we will give you the rough costs of hiring a private investigator and if you have any questions or would like to discuss your investigative needs more please contact us where we will be able to give you a more accurate quote.

private investigation fees

Services provided by a private investigator

A private investigator or private detective agency is a person or group of individuals that are hired to find out information often in a covert way.  At Covert Investigations we offer a wide range of private investigation services which include:

  • Covert Surveillance
  • Covert Camera Installation
  • TSCM Sweeps/ Bug Sweeping Services
  • GPS Tracking
  • Asset and Person Tracing and Recovery
  • Process Serving
  • Background Checks
  • Cyber Security
  • Computer and Device Forensics

As you can see from the list above all of these services will require varying amounts of time along and will incur different expenses on our behalf. 

A covert surveillance project for example could run for a week to catch a cheating spouse or it could run for months trying to catch an employee committing fraud.

How much does a private investigator cost?

cost of a private detective

The best way to get the most accurate quote would be to use the chat functionality on this website to explain your investigative needs, or to get in touch with us here.  However with that said we can give you a range of prices to let you know roughly how much our investigations would cost you.

Our private investigator fees on average range between £40 per hour and £85 per hour, and while that may seem expensive, unlike other private investigator agencies we get the job done in a proficient and professional manner.  We won’t drag the job out to run up fees and we know the importance of the investigative process when it comes to evidence collection so that the evidence required is up to standard and can be used in both criminal and civil court of law.

Fees for private detective agencies can vary from one agency to another and the quality of service can too.  Typically our clients don’t hire us for being the cheapest detective agency but hire us because we have a great track record of getting results.

At Covert Investigations we are full members of the Association of British Investigators. The Association of British Investigators is endorsed by The Law Society of England & Wales and the Service Provider Scheme of The Law Society of Scotland. 

If you are looking for private investigators in the UK that get results please contact us.  We are fully insured, work throughout the UK (Offices in Cardiff, Bristol & London), and don’t outsource our work to other less abled contractors as other firms do.

How do I pay for a private investigation?

Some of our services are fixed fee and will require payment before the job is booked in while others will work on a retainer basis.  You can talk to us about your needs and we will be able to give you a rough guideline of how many hours your job will cost and you can book hours with us to see the successful completion of an investigation.

Private investigation fees

Below is a rough guide to the fees that we charge here at Covert investigations.

Surveillance fees

Our fees for surveillance services start at £40 per hour but can change depending on the number of agents needed, specialist equipment needed, and the time of day where surveillance is needed.  Our rates include photo and video surveillance along with reports written by our experts.

Process serving costs

process serving costs in the uk

Our process serving service costs between £95 and £150  and includes travel, fuel and 3 attempts to deliver your legal documents.  We work throughout the UK and have offices in London, Bristol and Cardiff. If you do need a reliable process server we can help.

People tracing costs

On average our people tracing service costs between £75 and £250 looking at past cases.  The time spent trying to track a person will reflect the cost of this service but this will be discussed beforehand.

Asset Tracing costs

Our asset tracing costs can once again range based on the amount of time taken to find an asset.  On average you would expect to spend anywhere from £350 – £900 depending on the complexity of the case.  If you need a more accurate quote please contact us.

Background check fees

cost of doing a background check in the uk

Our background check services for businesses and individuals start at £175 and will give you peace of mind when it comes to hiring or checking out a person of interest. If you are carrying out a background check for business purposes this could save you thousands in the long run.

Vehicle tracking and GPS costs

gps tracking services

Vehicle tracking and GPS services start at £225 and further costs will depend on the duration of the investigation.

Bug sweeping costs

bug sweeping cost in the uk

Our bug sweeping service starts at £500 and prices can rise depending on the size of the sweep, rooms swept, and complexity of the situation.  Please get in touch to discuss your bug sweeping needs where we can give you a more accurate estimate.

Private investigation costs frequently asked questions.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to cost and hiring a private investigation service.

Can I pay a fixed fee?

On some of our investigation services, a fixed fee is possible.  Process serving is an example of this where a fixed fee is paid and we then attempt to deliver your legal documents up to three times.  A service such as this is perfect for a fixed fee as we know the number of hours involved, the distances that will need to be travelled and expenses that we will incur.

Other services such as covert surveillance on the other hand don’t lend well to a fixed fee as it is not known how many hours will be needed to gather the evidence you need.  To help you with this you can block book our hours so that costs are affordable.

What is a private investigator retainer?

private investigation retainer

A private investigator retainer is when you hire us for a set amount of hours, usually on a weekly or monthly basis and we work for those required hours on your case.  A retainer is a great way of handling more complex investigative cases while keeping the money spent on our services affordable to you.

Can you price match another investigator?

Our private investigator fees are competitive and are a result of the experience of our operatives.  Our fees are put in place so we have enough manpower, equipment and time to get you the best result possible.

Cheap private investigator – Should you hire one?

Hiring a cheap private investigator may be better than doing the work yourself but as the private investigator industry isn’t regulated anyone can say they are an investigator. Hiring a cheap investigator is a potential sign that the person offering the service isn’t confident in the ability to do the job. I understand that hiring a cheap private investigator may be something you are considering but I would urge you to consider how important the job at hand is for you.

How do I hire a private investigator?

The cost of hiring a private investigator is important, pay too much and you may not be able to afford a full service for sufficient evidence collection and pay too little and an agency could drag their feet prolonging the service while not collecting the evidence in a sufficient manner which won’t hold up in court.

Now you should have a rough idea of your question of “How much does a private investigator cost?” The next step would be to get in touch with us for a more accurate quote based on your unique circumstances.

Private investigators can be used in a variety of situations to find out information that would otherwise stay hidden. Hiring a private investigator can help put your mind at ease and they can help you incircumstances where you wouldn’t know where to start.

Private investigators can be used to trace people, catch out a cheating partner, gather evidence of fraud and can even help in criminal investigations. In this article, we will take a look at 5 reasons you may turn to a private investigator. If you want to see how much a private investigator costs view our latest article.

Tracking a person

You may want to track a person to make sure they are safe, or you could be tracking a partner to make sure they are being faithful. Businesses may also want to track their vechicles incase of theft or if they suspect their vechicles are being used outside of the companies fair usage policies.

Whatever the reason for wanting to track a person a private detective can help set it up for you without the other person knowing. These trackers can be set up for long term usage and updates can be provided in real-time through Apple and Google Maps.

GPS tracking is very useful in cases where you may suspect a cheating partner as it’s very easy to prove the person was not where they say they were at a given time. The trackers are very powerful and can usually pin point a persons location within a few feet.

Fraud Investigations

Private investigators can help individuals and businesses in cases where fraud may have occured. A private investigator can review documents, and conduct surveillance to see if any type of fraud is occuring such as auto insurance, healthcare fraud and homeowners fraud.

For businesses a CEO may look to retain a private investigation firm to prevent embezzlement or to conduct background checks on employees to stop the business from hiring someone who has been sued for fraud in the past.

Sweeping for bugs

Individuals and businesses are often targeted for espionage and private investigators can conduct thorough bug sweeps to keep your information private.

A competitor or unsavoury person may try to get access to your private information to either get a competitive advantage of your company or to use this information to blackmail you at a later date.

You may think that bugs are planted only in movies but it’s more common than you may realise. Quite often bugs are found in hotel rooms and boardrooms up and down the country. By hiring a private investigator to sweep for bugs you have a better chance of keeping your information private.

People tracing

Finding lost relatives can be a difficult process and without the right level of training, it’s almost impossible. Most people may turn to Facebook to search for distant relatives but after nothing shows up they don’t know where to turn.

Sometimes people don’t want to get in contact with these lost relatives but just want to know that they are safe and doing ok. A private investigator can help you in these circumstances and can help you track down family members or friends that you haven’t seen in years.

Process Serving

If you have a law firm and need documents delivered to a defendant usualy a private detective is used to serve these documents, this is known as a process server.

The main job of a process server is to let someone know they are in the process of a legal case. Tracking these people down can sometimes be difficult and can take up time, however with the right tools a private investigator can track and serve documents in a prompt and professional manner.

Process serving can differ company to company but it’s worth noting that you should hire a private investigation firm that has legal knowledge and understands the procedure chain. At Covert Investigations LTD we were founded by two ex police officers and all of our private investigators are members of The Association of British Investigators so we got you covered there.

Background Checks

As mentioned above in the section mentioning fraud cases, private investigators can help businesses and individuals conduct background checks.

Although most people leave a trail online these days that can be found through a Google search the information that can’t be found this way is often the information a person or company would want to uncover.

For businesses hiring the wrong person who may have criminal convictions, could have been involved in fraud or could have lied about their qualifications and work history this could have profound effects on the business, both from a reputation point of view and a monetary one.

For individuals who are hiring a person to look after a vulnerable person such as a child or a grand parent, background checks could give you troubling information about that person which could keep your family safe. On the other hand a background check may not show any flags and can give you a piece of mind that your family members are in capable hands.


Above are some of the common reasons in which you would hire a private investigator, but there are many other reasons which are not covered above. If your situation doesn’t involve any of the above please speak to us as we have been proviging investigations for many years and have been asked to carry out investigations that even surprised us.

You can contact us here or use the chat functionality for any questions you may have.

Discreet Investigation services that get results.

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