How to Choose the Right Private Investigator in Switzerland (The Guide)

Since the reform of the Swiss Penal Code, resorting to a private investigator has become an increasingly common option to resolve various matters, be they personal or professional.

But what are the criteria to take into account when choosing the right private detective for the matter concerning you?

In this article, we have listed 8 tips that we believe are essential to consider before making your decision.

8 Essential Tips For Choosing a Private Investigator in Switzerland

These tips will help you maximize your chances of choosing the right investigator.

#1 Seek advice from a lawyer

Private Investigator: Seek advice from a lawyer

The most effective way to find a competent and trustworthy private investigator is to seek recommendations from a lawyer or a law firm.

Indeed, these legal professionals regularly work in collaboration with private detectives. Therefore, they are very well placed to advise you and guide you towards recognized and experienced investigation professionals, be it in Geneva or elsewhere in Switzerland.

And even if they don’t directly know any, they will surely have a colleague who can put you in touch with a competent private investigator to meet your specific needs.

Of course, don’t forget to specify to them what type of investigation is involved, as serious private investigators each have one or more predominant specialities.

Don’t know a lawyer? Then follow the next tip.

#2 Avoid self-proclaimed private investigators

This type of behavior is usually indicative of the opposite and unfortunately, the field of private investigation is not exempt. The same observation can be made in other sectors of activity.

Therefore, you need to be cautious when you notice that the investigator who seems right for you self-proclaims as “the best”.

Indeed, private investigators or private investigator agencies who claim to be the best often make exaggerated and unrealistic promises to attract new clients. But that does not necessarily mean they possess the skills and professionalism required to handle your investigation.

This is why it is very important to remain vigilant in the face of such claims and to seek tangible evidence of their abilities, such as verifiable references or examples of past successes.

If you can’t verify all this, simply avoid using such a professional.

This quote from the famous Lieutenant Columbo perfectly illustrates our second tip:

“My wife says I’m the second best, there are 150 claiming the first place.”

It demonstrates that a true detective doesn’t need to boast about being the best, as it’s the quality of his work and his humility that make his talent shine.

Moreover, know that if you hear praises about the private detective you are likely to choose, it is an additional element to take into consideration.

#3 Be wary of enticing promises online

Don’t be fooled by a visual identity.

Take the time instead to conduct quick research to evaluate as accurately as possible their experience and skills. This will also allow you to verify if the investigator’s visual identity aligns with their values.

Here are two examples of self-proclamation that appear dubious:

The fake success rates or guarantees of results

Fake success rates or guarantees of results among certain private detectives

The fake reviews

The fake reviews

Similarly, be wary of anonymous reviews left on certain websites. They cannot be verified and are most of the time false. Here’s an example:
Fake reviews are common on websites

Apply the same approach to all websites when you visit them.

Good to know: in general, it is rare to find customer testimonials praising the merits of a private investigator, as most of the time, these same customers wish to preserve their anonymity.

On the other hand, testimonials from professionals (colleagues, lawyers, insurance investigators, large companies) can be entirely taken into account to judge the quality of a detective’s work.

#4 Go talk to the private investigator in his/her office

Avoid a meeting “on a park bench”.

Go talk to the private investigator in his/her office

As this expression underlines, it is essential that you meet the private investigator in a professional setting, such as their office, and not in inappropriate, insecure places, or even online.

Therefore, avoid any meeting places that a “pseudo-professional” might suggest to you: restaurants, cafes, libraries, or any other inappropriate place. Apart from being public and noisy, they do not guarantee the discretion and confidentiality of your exchanges.

Very important: choosing a public place for a first meeting can be risky, as you can’t be certain who is really sitting in front of you. Indeed, the person in front of you could pretend to be anyone…

Remember, scheduling an appointment with the private detective directly in their office has the following advantages:

  • It gives you the opportunity to see who you will be working with.
  • You can judge the professionalism of the person in front of you.
  • This professional meeting place also guarantees the confidentiality of your exchanges, as in a detective’s office, walls don’t have ears.

#5 Flee from a private investigator who proposes or suggests illegal methods

Flee from a private investigator who proposes or suggests illegal methods

It’s crucial to be cautious of individuals who present themselves as experienced investigators, as there are all sorts of freelancers who could suggest totally illegal, costly, and unusable methods in court.

WARNING: you should be aware that illegal practices can get you into complex criminal problems, rather than providing you with evidence that reflects the reality of the facts.

Here are some examples of proposals for illegal and dangerous methods:

  • Intrusion into a home or private place
  • Eavesdropping (phone, microphones)
  • Data tampering (hacking)
  • Attempted coercion

To avoid such problems, make sure to work with a recognized investigator who respects the legal and ethical rules in force.

Rest assured that in all cases, a detective will be able to conduct any type of investigation (legally and effectively) without having to resort to these illegal methods.

#6 Check who you are talking to

Check who you are talking to

When looking for a private investigator in Switzerland, it’s also crucial that you know from the beginning who you are talking to. Therefore, follow the next 4 important tips, which will allow you to effectively verify the seriousness of your interlocutor.

→ Demand transparency

A private detective who refuses to reveal their identity (first name, last name) under the pretext of discretion lacks credibility. Indeed, it should be noted that a private investigator is not a secret agent in the service of the government.

Furthermore, it should be known that in any case, the detective has the obligation to sign the investigation report in their own name, as they may be called to testify in court. Therefore, it is normal and logical to know the identity of the investigator you are going to choose from the beginning of your collaboration.

→ Sign a contract

Demand that your investigator provides you with a duly formed contract specifying the cost and resources used.

→ Avoid anonymous agencies

For this, make sure to connect with a private detective agency with a physical presence and an official name that allows for easy identification with Swiss state organizations.

The agency must have at least:

  • A professional physical address that you will be able to verify: beware of agencies whose only address is a PO box.
  • A landline number, other than a mobile phone number.

→ Verify the existence of teams and their competencies

As for Geneva, it’s possible to consult the official and comprehensive list of registered investigators, registered under their own name or under the name of the agency that employs them (see our table at the end of the article).

Good to know: you don’t choose a private detective the way you would choose a locksmith or plumber based on proximity criteria. This is a more extensive specific service.

#7 Don’t be dazzled by a private detective’s storefront

The website of a private investigator should be clear and clean, but not just that.

Look at and carefully analyze the websites of other private detectives.

It’s important to stress that the website of the professional you want to hire can be a good way to imagine the quality of the investigation reports that will be provided to you.

Indeed, a well-presented site, with a clear hierarchy, flawless information, can testify to the seriousness and rigor of the work carried out by the detective.

However, the reverse is also possible. A poorly designed website, with unclear and poorly detailed information, may suggest less professional work.

#8 Prioritize experienced and trained private investigators

A good investigator will above all be a resourceful, inventive, versatile, reliable, serious, and committed person. Therefore, it is essential to properly assess the skills and qualities of the detective before making your choice.

A former police officer, military, intelligence agent… doesn’t necessarily mean a good detective. Also, some of the criteria mentioned above are not necessarily found in all civil servants (or ex-civil servants).

However, the reverse is also true, because a former police officer or gendarme can be a significant asset to work as a private investigator. Indeed, this former law representative may have important assets such as those mentioned below:

  • He/she is accustomed to investigations.
  • He/she knows the laws.
  • He/she has a keen eye for observation.
  • He/she has learned to master certain specialized techniques through professional training that is recognized as reliable and serious.
  • He/she is capable of carefully scrutinizing his or her environment: he or she has an eye for it.
  • He/she has gained experience from performing their previous duties within recognized organizations (example: government).

But it is also important to remember that the majority of recognized, experienced, and valid detectives also come from various professional backgrounds.

Indeed, it must be recognized that many professionals in the field are excellent investigators without necessarily having experience as a police officer or gendarme. Their effective skills usually come from their varied life journey, the travels they have made, and the experiences acquired during their previous professional careers.

Recognized training

In addition to experience, training is a very important element to consider when you want to hire a private investigator. The job of a private investigator is a difficult one and requires specific training in the following areas:

  • Criminal law
  • Ethics
  • Surveillance and observation techniques (on foot, motorized)
  • Urban camouflage techniques
  • Report writing (usable in court)
  • Budget management
  • General business management

Therefore, by choosing a private detective with solid training, you are ensuring you hire a competent and perfectly informed professional, who will be able to conduct your investigation effectively and achieve convincing results.

But ultimately, the best way to know if the private investigator you are going to hire is trained and experienced is to follow the 6th tip we’ve already talked about: “Check Who You’re Talking To”.


In summary, choosing the right private investigator in Switzerland can prove to be a complex task, but by following the advice in this guide, you will be able to make an informed decision.

Don’t forget to prioritize professionalism, experience, and discretion in your selection, and beware of overly enticing promises or illegal methods.

Finally, take the time to verify references and professional testimonials to ensure that the detective you are hiring is competent and trustworthy.

Additional Information

In Switzerland, the profession of private detective is not regulated except in the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, and Ticino. Here are some useful information.

Official Sites and Lists

CantonUseful InformationComment
GenevaOfficial list of private investigators (in french)Regularly updated by BASPE*
NeuchâtelOfficial site of the canton of Neuchâtel (in french)No official list.
Tel. 032 889 68 30
TicinoOfficial list of private detectives or detective agencies (in italian)The list also includes security agencies
* Weapons, Private Security, and Explosives Brigade.

Among the schools that train for the profession of private investigator

Links favoring investigators who operate ethically

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