Bounty Hunter State Requirements

As a licensed Bounty Hunter, you must keep up with the laws associated with Bounty Hunting. It is essential to know what the appropriate laws are in the state you are pursuing the criminal in as well.

Some states require a license to become a Bounty Hunter. Most states have laws regarding what type of hunting you can do whether it is physical or not. If a state makes it unlawful to hunt a criminal physically, the Bounty Hunter must use investigation and skip tracing abilities to bring him in. This changes the scope of the job, so it is essential to know all phases of the situation. You must follow the applicable laws where the criminal currently is.

Bail Enforcement Training Programs

While physical bail enforcement training programs are beneficial, many will claim that you don’t need a license to track down and capture fugitives, due to the Federal 1872 Taylor vs. Taintor act.  The fact is, bounty hunting and bail enforcement rules & requirements vary from state to state and that’s what they fail to teach.  Some states require some form of physical training and certificate; other’s require licensing, while other states require no licensure or training at all.

Here is the sample of the current laws:

States Where Bounty Hunting Is Allowed

These states allow physical bounty hunting and bail enforcement but require some form of training, whether it be in the field working for a bail bond company or in a classroom. Licenses for some of these states are also required.


See generally Code of Ala. 15-13-62. Bondsmen can authorize another to apprehend the fugitive by endorsing a certified copy of the undertaking (15-13-117). The bondsman or his agent can pursue the principal anywhere in the state, must possess a certified copy of the bond, must identify himself and his purpose, and can enter a dwelling for this purpose. The principal has to be surrendered to the sheriff of the county of jurisdiction (16-13-63). An out of state bondsman must have a certified copy of the undertaking when apprehending the principal (15-13-124). Source: NABIC.



Bounty hunters must be licensed (Ariz. Rev. Stat.   13-3885), pass a background check (Ariz. Rev. Stat.   20-323), and complete a training class (Ariz. Rev. Stat.   20-3001 through 3005). Bounty hunters only can enter a home with the consent of the occupants present at the time of entry, and cannot wear clothes indicating that the bounty hunter is a state or federal official. Bond agents must notify the state that they are utilizing particular bounty hunters. Once a year, bond agents also must notify the state of all bounty hunters they have used. Out of state bounty, hunters must contract with Arizona licensed recovery agents. Ariz. Rev. Stat.   13-3885.


H.B. 1163, enacted April 15, 1999. Only licensed bail agents, private investigators, or law enforcement officers, or people who have two years of actual work as a licensed investigator, bond agent, or law enforcement officer can seek and arrest fugitives. Such a person must be at least 21 years of age, have no felony record, and notify the local police of his presence and provide them with the defendant’s name, charges, and suspected location.


Bail fugitive recovery agents must be 18 years old, have no felony convictions, complete a specified training courses, and notify local law enforcement of their intent to apprehend a bail fugitive no more than 6 hours before doing so. They must have written authorization from the bond agent when making an arrest, and cannot forcibly enter any premises, except under certain existing provisions of law governing arrest by a private person. Bounty hunters cannot represent themselves as law officers or wear badges or uniforms that a reasonable person might mistake for a government agency. All bounty hunters must carry with them a certification of completion of required courses and training programs. Out of state bounty, hunters must be licensed in their home states, or be licensed bail agents. Private detectives need not obtain a separate bounty hunter license to operate in the state. This law will remain in effect only until January 1, 2005. Cal. Penal Code   1299. Also, bounty hunter or bond agent who captures the defendant in California must go through extradition procedures to transport him interstate. Cal. Penal Code   847.5 (1995 West); Ouzts v. Maryland Nat’l Ins. Co., 505 F.2d 547 (9th Cir.1974). After an arrest of a defendant on bail, the surety must deliver him to the court or police within 48 hours of the arrest if it occurs within California; if the arrest occurs out of state, the surety must deliver the defendant within 48 hours of their entering California. Cal. Penal Code   1301.


Bond agents must take class in bail recovery, and a bond agent who wants to hire anyone other than another licensed bail agent to perform recovery work must submit to the state a certificate showing that such person has received training from a bail recovery training program, and provide his fingerprints (the person cannot have a criminal record). The bail agent then cannot hire this person until the state completes a background check based on the fingerprints. Col. Rev. Stat.   12-7-105.5.


Requires licensing, training (20 hours of study), and background checks (no felony record). Police officers are forbidden from being bounty hunters. Bounty hunters must notify local police before making an arrest, and cannot carry wear clothes or carry a badge suggesting he is an agent of the state or federal government. C.G.S.A.   29-152e through 29-152l.



All bail runners must be licensed, and work only for one bond agent (i.e., eliminating freelance bounty hunters), be over 18, a resident of the state, have no criminal record, and pass a certification course, Fla. Stat.   648.37. One cannot arrest on an out of state bond unless the person is licensed in the state or the state where the bond was written. Fla. Stat.   648.30.


Bounty hunter must be at least 25 years old, must be a U.S. citizen, must obtain a gun permit, and must notify the local police of the intended arrest. Bondsmen must register with the sheriff of the county in which the bondsman is a resident all bail recovery agents that he employs. A bounty hunter must carry identification cards issued by the bondsman, which describe the bounty hunter’s physical appearance and contains the bondsman’s signature. Bounty hunter cannot wear clothing or carry badges suggesting that he is a public employee. An out of state recovery agent must be able to prove that he is licensed in his home state, or hire a Georgia bounty hunter if there is no licensing law in his home state. Ga. Code   17-6-56 through 17-6-58.




Recovery agents must be licensed. Ind. Code Ann.   27-10-3-1 (1997). To obtain a license, recovery agents must be at least 18 years old, be a citizen of the U.S., be a resident of the state for at least six months, at least ten years must have elapsed after any felony conviction to obtain a license (5 years for misdemeanor), Ind. Code Ann.   27-10-3-5, and they must pass an examination given by the State, Ind. Code Ann.   27-10-3-6. Recovery agents must notify the sheriff in their respective locales of residence, Ind. Code Ann.   27-10-3-17, and bail bond agents must give the state a list of recovery agents they employ. Ind. Code Ann.   27-10-3-14. Bail bond agent and bounty hunter cannot forcibly enter the home of a third party. Mishler v. State, 660 N.E.2d 343 (Ind. App.1996).


Bounty hunters must be licensed and notify local police of a defendant’s location before making an arrest. Iowa Code   80A.3. A victim can sue a bail bond agent as well as the bounty hunter for misconduct. Iowa Code   80A.16A. A bounty hunter cannot enter the home of or use force against an innocent third party. State v. McFarland, 598 N.W.2d 318 (Iowa Ct. App. 1999).



All recovery agents must be licensed by DOI. There are education requirements to obtain and keep license. Out of state recovery personnel must contract with a bail agent licensed in Louisiana. Recovery personnel required to wear apparel identifying bail bond company during apprehension or surrender in a private residence. For fear in a private home, notification of local law enforcement required. (LAC Title 37, Part XVIII, Ch. 49, Reg 65, Sec. 4901 et seq.)





The surety may arrest the principal and is entitled to the assistance of law enforcement (MCL 765.26). Source: NABIC



Bail enforcement agents must be licensed. Requirements are being at least 21 years of age, the resident of the state at least one year, no felony record. Miss. Stat. Ann.   83-39-3.





All bond agents and their agents must be licensed. Nev. Code   697.090, 697.180. To obtain a license, a bail enforcement agent must be at least 21 years old, be a U.S. citizen, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have no felony record, pass a psychological examination, pass a written exam, and pass a drug test. Nev. Code   697.173, 697.200 (written examination), 697.186 (letter from police saying no criminal record). Bounty hunter also must take a training class within nine months of being hired as a bounty hunter. Nev. Code   697.177. After making an arrest, bail enforcement agent must notify the local law enforcement agency of the jurisdiction in which the defendant was apprehended of his identity, the identity of the defendant, and where the defendant is being taken to be surrendered into custody. Before forcibly entering an inhabited dwelling, a bail enforcement agent must notify the local law enforcement. Nev. Code.   697.325.

New Hampshire

Recovery agents must be trained and certified through a program approved by the Professional Bail Agents of the United States, and register with the Secretary of State (who will issue proof of registration). Bail agency must have at least $300,000 in liability insurance for recovery activities, and recovery agents were acting as independent contractors must have liability insurance of at least $300,000. Bail agents and recovery agents must inform the chief of police of the relevant municipality when searching for bail jumper. N.H. Stat.   597:7-b.

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

At any time a surety may take a principal into custody at any place in the state and by written authority on a certified copy of the bail bond may empower any person over 20 to do so. (Crim. Proc. Title P Div, 3, art. 530.80 & 540). Source: NABIC

North Dakota



Out of state bounty, hunter or bond agent must be accompanied by peace officer or licensed Oklahoma bond agent when seeking to apprehend bail jumper. Okl. Stat.   1750.14.


Rhode Island

South Dakota

Bail runner must be licensed, and have no felony record. S.D.C.L.   58-22-12, 58-22-13 (must submit fingerprints), 58-22-16 (must pass a written examination). The bond agent must notify the state of the runners they employ. S.D.C.L.   58-22-27, 58-22-52. Out of state bail agent or runner must notify local law enforcement where he intends to conduct activities, and present evidence of out of state license. If he has no license, he cannot conduct search and arrest activities.   58-22-51.


A bounty hunter cannot have a criminal record, must notify local police of defendant’s location, and present to the police a copy of the warrant, a copy of the bond, and evidence that bounty hunter has been hired by a bond agent. Tenn. Code Ann.   40-11-3.


Tex. Code Crim. P. 17.19 states that bail gent can obtain warrant from the court before seeking to arrest the defendant, and a judicial warrant is required to arrest with force, Tex. Code Crim. Proc Art 17.19 (Vernon 1977); see Austin v. State, 541 S.W.2d 162 (Tex. Cr. App. 1976). Uniform Criminal Extradition Act requires that bond agent or bounty hunter take defendant before a magistrate before transporting over state lines. See Landry v. A-Able Bonding, Inc., 75 F.2d 200 (5th Cir. 1996).


Bounty hunters must be licensed (Utah Code Ann.   53-11-107), be 21 years of age, a citizen or legal resident of U.S., complete a state background check, a training class, and perform minimum time in the field as an apprentice, bond agent, or law enforcement officer (Utah Code Ann.   53-11-108, et. seq.). Local police must be notified before making an arrest. (Utah Code Ann.   53-11-122, 123).



A surety may at any time arrest his principal and surrender him to the court in question. (Code of Va. 19.2-149). Source: NABIC


West Virginia

All “bail bond enforcers” must register with the West Virginia state police. That registration must: (1) identify at least one bond agent for whom the enforcer is authorized to act, (2) include written authorization from that bonding agent, (3) include the enforcer’s certified fingerprints, and (4) include one photograph. To register, an enforcer must be at least 21 years old, a citizen of the U.S., and have no felony convictions. A bonding agent can grant an ongoing 2-year authorization to an enforcer who is a West Virginia citizen to seek all defendants for whom the bonding agent acts as a surety. The bonding agent otherwise can grant a 60-day authorization to an enforcer, in which case the enforcer must notify the state police of the time and place of any proposed action. If the enforcer is not a state resident, he also must inform the police of the date he will enter the state. Out-of-state bounty hunters must abide by the same in-state requirements (including written authorization from an in-state bonding agent). An enforcer is to be considered the legal agent of the bonding agent. An enforcer cannot:

(1) enter an occupied residential structure (i.e., a house or apartment) without the consent of the occupants who are then present

(2) arrest a defendant without written authorization from the bondsman

(3) wear or carry any uniform or badge that implies that the enforcer is a state agent or employee (but “may display identification that indicates his or her status as a bail bond enforcer only”)

(4) must exercise due care to protect the safety of third parties.

H.B. 4481 (Enacted April 4, 2000).


States Where Physical Bounty Hunting Is Banned

District of Columbia


A statute enacted in 1963 designed to eliminate the commercial bail bond industry. See Schilb v. Kuebel, 264 N.E.2d 377, 380 (Ill. 1970), aff’d 404 U.S. 357 (1971); Ill. Stat. Ch. 725   5/110-7, 5/110-8. “No bail bondsman from any state may seize or transport unwillingly any person found in this State who is allegedly in violation of a bail bond posted in some other state.” Ill. Stat. Ch. 725   5/103-9.


Kentucky expressly outlaws the commercial bail bond industry. Ky. Stat.   431.510 (prohibiting commercial bail bond industry); see Stephens v. Bonding Assoc. of Kentucky, 538 S.W.2d 580 (Ky 1976) (upholding statute). A bond agent from another state seeking to arrest a fugitive who has fled to Kentucky must get a warrant. Ky. Rev. Stat.   440.270.

North Carolina

All bail runners must be licensed. N.C. Gen. Stat.   58-71-40. The runner must be over 18, have no felony convictions, be a state resident, and have necessary training and experience., N.C. Gen. Stat. 58-71-50. You must take 20 hours of education for a license. N.C. Gen. Stat.   58-71-71. Must take an examination. N.C. Gen. Stat.   58-71-70. Bounty hunters only can work for one bonding company (same as Florida). N.C. Gen. Stat.   58-71-65 (1996). Bondsmen and runners cannot enter the homes of third parties to apprehend a fugitive. State v. Mathis, 509 S.E.2d 155 (N.C. 1998).


Defendant only can be released from custody on conditional release, deposit bond, or on his recognizance (i.e., no surety bonds). Or. Rev. Stat.   135.255, .260, .265. In State v. Epps, 585 P.2d 425 (Or. 1978), the Oregon Supreme court abolished the broad common law rights of bounty hunters and bond agents and applied the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act to bounty hunters seeking to take defendants over state lines.

South Carolina

All bail runners are required to be licensed (S.C. Stat 38-53-80), can have no criminal record for the past ten years, must be a resident of the state, be over 18 (38-53-90), must take a 20-hour class and pass an examination (S.C. Stat. 38-53-80) and can only work for one bond agent who will supervise and be responsible for their conduct (38-53-120). Bond agents must supply to the court clerk in the county where they operate a list of their runners. (38-53-120).


Wis. Stat.   969.12 provides that no surety can be compensated for serving as a surety, effectively eliminating the commercial bond market. See Kahn v. McCormack, 299 N.W.2d 279 (Ct. App. 1980)(upholding the statute’s constitutionality and stating that the law’s purpose is to eliminate the commercial bond industry).

Please Note that even though physical Bounty Hunting and Bail Enforcement Is Banned in these states, you can still act as a private investigator or virtual bounty hunter by helping local, state & federal authorities for substantial rewards.

States That Allow Bounty Hunting With No Training or Licensing Requirements

  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island – Simple Pledge
  • Wyoming

PLEASE NOTE: However, if you do not wish to apply for a license or enroll in a training program in a state with bounty-hunting requirements, you may work as a helper or by playing a role in capturing a subject under the supervision of a Licensed or Trained Bounty Hunter. Also, there are a handful of states that require no training at all.

Note To Canadian Residents

Over recent months, we have received an increasing number of inquiries from Canadian residents interested in becoming bounty hunters not only in the U.S. but also in Canada. Please note, BOUNTY HUNTING in CANADA is illegal.

Why You Need A License To Be A Bounty Hunter

You cannot become a Bounty Hunter without research and training. Otherwise, you are a civilian taking the law into his or her own hands. That’s a vigilante and shouldn’t be confused with being a bounty hunter.

You must know how the bail bonds system works and the laws that go along with it. It is a skill that takes time to perfect so that you not only stay safe but you can be a skilled bounty hunter who makes the big bucks!

Bounty Hunters have skills in skip tracing, negotiation, being wise, and extraordinary surveillance abilities. You must know how to research and look for individuals. You have to be able to look into a criminal’s past and review all possible previous residences. By completing your research, you will learn much about the criminal you are pursuing. You will know his friends and the places he hangs out, among many other things.

If you do not have a license, you cannot be paid legally for bringing back a criminal. You may also face legal problems for doing this work without a permit. As with any job, you must ensure you have researched and completed training before you begin as a Bounty Hunter.

Know the laws, know what you need legally to complete your job, and you’ll be less likely to find yourself on the wrong end of the law.

Now let’s talk about how you get paid as a bounty hunter.

How You Get Paid As A Bounty Hunter

As a licensed Bounty Hunter, you can find criminals wanted by local, state, and federal authorities. When you bring these criminals back to justice, your reward can be $50,000 or more.

Don’t get me wrong, when you first start; you’ll probably be looking at rewards from $500 – $5,000 at best. However, as I said, the more you build your reputation and market yourself, the more money you’ll make.

Another perk is you’ll be making your hours and deciding when/if you want to work! Are you currently able to do that at your real job? If so, count yourself lucky. Not only is the pay as a bounty hunter attractive, but so is the schedule. You can also work from home or your office, earning money that helps bring criminals back to pay for what they did.

That in itself is as rewarding as the money for most bounty hunters. Their genuine passion is bringing the bad guys in, and the money and fame are just icing on the cake.