California Security Guards Licensing Requirements


CALIFORNIA Unarmed Security Guards Licensing Requirements

State Security Licensing Authorities: California

In California, security guards are licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). In order to get a security guard license (guard card), you must first complete a pre-licensing course, often referred to as a “guard card class”. The guard card class is 8 hours long and can be completed in one day.



California Security Guard Requirements for Registration

Security guards are employed by licensed private patrol operators or private security employers to protect persons or property or prevent theft as defined in Business and Professions Code (BPC) Section 7582.1. To be eligible to apply for a security guard registration through the Bureau of Security and Investigative Service (BSIS or Bureau), you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old (BPC Section 7582.8)
  • Undergo a criminal history background check through the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (BPC Sections 7581 and 7583.9) and
  • Complete the Power to Arrest training (see “Training Requirements” below)

Fees (Title 16, California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 640)

Initial Application Fee: $50.00
Renewal Fee: $35.00

Criminal History Background Check/Live Scan

Applicants for a BSIS Security Guard Registration must undergo a criminal history background check through the FBI and DOJ. Applicants should use the Security Guard Request for Live Scan Form available on the Bureau’s website as it contains the correct coding needed to ensure the Bureau receives the information in a timely manner. Applicants are responsible for paying all Live Scan, DOJ and FBI processing fees at the time of fingerprinting. A list of Live Scan locations can be found on the Bureau’s website.

Training Requirements

  • The power to arrest training must be completed prior to the issuance of a Security Guard Registration (BPC Sections 7583.6 and 7583.8).
  • The thirty-two (32) hours of training in security officer skills must be completed within the first six (6) months of licensure.
  • Eight (8) hours of continuing training must be completed annually (BPC 7583.6 and CCR 643).
  • The training may be administered by the guard’s employing private patrol operator or by a Bureau-approved course provider.

BSIS Advises: All registered security guards should maintain their own documented proof of completion of their training. Employers are required to maintain records for a minimum of two years; however registrants may need to provide subsequent employers or BSIS with training records. As a result BSIS recommends that registrants maintain copies of all of their own training records.

Application Processing

Online Application

Applicants may apply for security guard registration online via the Bureau’s website.

Paper Application

Applicants may submit their completed security guard application, $50 application fee and completed Live Scan form containing the signature of the Live Scan operator and Automated Transaction Identifier (ATI) number or classifiable fingerprint cards to:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
P.O. Box 989002
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

Verification of Security Guard Registration

Please allow approximately 4-6 weeks for applications to be processed. Processing times may be longer depending on the time it takes for the Bureau to receive responses from the DOJ and FBI and make the necessary determinations required by law. Once the Bureau has processed the application and issued the registration, the applicant’s security guard registration will be available to view on the “Verify a License” page on the Bureau’s website.

A security guard must possess a valid and current security guard registration card on his or her person while on-duty (BPC Section 7583.3); however a person may work as a security guard pending receipt of their hard-copy security guard registration card if he or she has been approved by the Bureau and carries on his or her person a hardcopy printout of the Bureau’s approval from the Bureau’s website and valid picture identification (BPC Section 7583.17). Registrants should receive their registration card via US Mail within approximately 3 weeks from the time the Bureau issues the registration.

Firearms Permit

Please see the Bureau’s “Firearms Permit Fact Sheet.”

Tear Gas Permit

BPC Section 7583.35 requires all licensees or registrants wishing to carry tear gas while on duty to complete a training course pursuant to Penal Code Section 22835. Some Bureau-approved training facilities may provide tear gas training. For information on Bureau-approved training facilities, visit the “Verify a License” page available on the Bureau’s website. You should contact the facility to confirm whether it provides the training before showing up.

Baton Permit

BPC Section 7583.33 requires anyone who carries a baton while on duty to be a registered security guard and to complete a baton training course from a Bureau-approved Baton Training Facility. For information on Bureau-approved training facilities, visit the “Verify a License” page available on the Bureau’s website.

Guard Registration Renewal

It is important that guard registrants keep a current and valid address on file with the Bureau at all times to help ensure they receive their renewal notices. The Bureau automatically mails a registrant his/her registration renewal form approximately 90 days before the registration is set to expire to their address of record. By law, a registrant must submit the completed renewal application or coupon at least 60 days prior to expiration to provide the Bureau sufficient time to process the renewal. If a guard does not receive the Bureau-issued renewal coupon, he/she can also submit a completed Security Guard Renewal Application, available on the Bureau’s website.

NOTE: Guard Registrations not renewed within 60 days of expiration are canceled and cannot be renewed (BPC Section 7583.20). If you fail to submit your renewal application, regardless of whether or not the Bureau sends you a renewal application, including payment of all required fees, before the 60th day after your registration expires, your registration will be canceled and you will have to apply for a new guard registration. Submission of a renewal application after the registration expires, but before the 60 days has lapsed, requires the payment of a delinquency fee of $25.00 in addition to the renewal fee of $35.00.

Please note: If you possess a security guard registration AND a BSIS Firearms Permit, you cannot renew your security guard registration online.

Additional information can be found on the Bureau’s website at

Why California cracked down on oversight of armed security guards

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