International private investigation is an intriguing topic which calls to mind the diversity of spy fiction in literature and on the big screen. However, there is truly a real life detective industry which caters to clients on an international level, providing niche and general services on every continent.
Most private investigators will never undertake an international case assignment and many do not even travel outside of a specific home service market. However, in specialized circumstances, travel may be required for an investigator and at the highest levels of the business, even international travel is not out of the question. Any business related travel can be challenging, but for a complicated industry like private investigation, there can be a variety of particular impediments to handling case matters internationally.
The first and most obvious challenge to an international case profile is the possibility that the destination locale may have far different regulations on private eyes than the detective is currently used to. In some areas, detectives are largely unregulated; while in others, professional private sector investigation is actually illegal. It is crucial to understand the laws in place where the case travel will bring the investigator, as well as what may be needed to work legally while in the new assignment location. Failure to do so may involve civil penalties, criminal charges, imprisonment or even worse in extreme circumstances…
There are many other problems which face international private investigators as well. Language can be a big factor for destinations which converse in a tongue which is not known to the detective. Obviously, most investigators who do decide to work in particular secondary markets should be well versed in the local dialect to avoid potentially catastrophic situations. Investigation is a very localized business and most providers of detective services focus on a particular geographical location due to their many connections and deep knowledge of the region. Without this "home field advantage", an investigator will be far less effective in the field.
Not having adequate support staff and related professionals available can also be a real concern for international investigation providers. The detective trade relies on many other related professions, so it is crucial to have a "go-to" person in every market work is pursued, if at all possible. On a similar note, detectives are people too and need to account for international coverage for their own needs when working abroad on a case. This can include many possible considerations, from an international driving permit, to overseas health coverage to bonds and other specialized insurance products for their business operations in other countries. These are all serious impediments for many small detective firms to overcome when considering operating on an international level.
Luckily, there are some ways of circumventing many of these problems inherent to multi-market investigation businesses. The first is to subcontract out international work to a local provider. This is easy to do for members of international private investigator associations. Sometimes, it is simply better to make some money on a case without the aggravation of doing the work yourself, then it is to risk TOO MUCH for a case which would be better handled by a regional service provider anyway. This is why it is very common for detectives to work as consultants only on long distance cases. Alternately, an investigation agency can grow slowly, as a franchise or a corporation, to many international markets. While this takes time and a great business plan, the result can be fantastic for all involved. The principles of the company will own a multinational company with holdings in several countries, work will be supplied to local economies and there will be considerable immunities to many of the lulls of the industry which occur in any given market at any particular time.
International private investigation services are not for the meek. However, for hard working, smart and talented detectives, offering international assignments is one way to differentiate yourself from the competition and form a unique business model which may be very difficult to duplicate…