Regulation and ethics

Private investigators and detectives in France


In France, the profession of private investigators is regulated by the Code of Internal Security created by the ordinance n°2012-351 of the 12 of March 2012. The activity of private investigations is defined as following:

Code of Internal Security / Book VI – Activities of private security / Title II – Activities of private investigation agencies / Article L621-1:

Shall be subject to the provisions of this Title the profession consisting in collecting, even without stating its status or revealing the purpose of its mission, information intended for third parties for the purpose of defense their interests.

This definition reflects the main mission of the private investigator, which is to provide informations to his customers for the purpose of defending their interests.

Download the Book VI of the French Code of Internal Security (in french)


The Code of Internal Security defines the conditions for exercising the profession of private investigator in France.

The conditions are controled by the “CNAPS” (National Council for the Activities of Private Security), a public organization reporting to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The private investigation agencies must obtain an authorization for exercising the profession. Solvest agencies in Lille and Dunkirk are authorized under the numbers AUT-059-2118-09-27-20190715211 and AUT-059-2118-10-04-20190715938.

The managers of the investigation companies must obtain an accreditation valid for five years and also delivered by the “CNAPS”. A corresponding professional certification is required, and a control of their morality is performed.


The private investigators, or private detectives, are subject to the “Code of Conduct for the activities of private security”. This code of conduct is in place since 2012 and applies to all the professions regulated by the Book VI of the French Code of Internal Security. It defines the obligations of the companies, their managers and their employees. A specific chapter is dedicated to the activity of private investigation.

Solvest gives a high importance to the respect of the Code of Conduct and its diffusion to its customers before starting any investigation.

Download the Code of Conduct of the activities of private security (in french)


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in place sin 2018, is a European regulation applying to all the companies processing of personal data.

The companies have to comply the GDPR regarding the data processing and their security. They have to guarantee the right to information to the persons whose personal data are processed (collected, saved, used, etc.).

The article 6 of GDPR defines six conditions for the lawfulness of data processing:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) / Chapter II – Principles / Article 6 – Lawfulness of processing :

1.   Processing shall be lawful only if and to the extent that at least one of the following applies:
a) the data subject has given consent to the processing of his or her personal data for one or more specific purposes;

The first condition is the consent of the person whose personal data are processed.
As a private investigation company, Solvest informs its clients about the data collected and their use, systematically collects their explicit consent, and maintains a record of processing and contractors in accordance with the obligations of the GDPR.

f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.

The next five conditions are actually exceptions to the principle of consent. Among these exceptions, the principle of the legitimate interests allows us to process personal datas of the person investigated. Strict rules will be respected regarding the use and the period for which data are stored.

Read more about GDPR


You have a question about the private investigation activities in France and their regulation? You are interested by our profession and would like to discuss with a private investigator?