California Guard Card Requirements

This article explains California Guard Card licensing requirements.  Following these instructions will ensure you have everything you need to save you from headaches, financial loss, liability and suspension.  Here are some easy-to-follow tips to ensure you don’t get in trouble with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS).

What is a California Guard Card?

California requires anyone that works in security to be registered with the State.  For security officers this is a called a “Guard Registration Card” or a “Gard Card” for short.  A California Guard Card tells employers and the public that have been properly trained, fingerprinted and background checked and are authorized to work in the security industry.  Once you have satisfactorily completed all requirements and paid your fees you will receive your Guard Card from BSIS.

Who Needs a California Guard Card?

ANYONE that performs a security function as a part of their employment must possess a valid California Guard Card.  It doesn’t matter if the person wears a uniform or not.  It’s doesn’t matter what their job title is.  It only matter what their activity is.

As far as BSIS is concerned; if they look like a security officer or act like a security officer or do something that security officers do then they MUST have a valid Guard Card.  The follow jobs are examples:

  • Uniformed security officers
  • Plain clothed security officers
  • Loss prevention agent
  • In-house security
  • proprietary security officers
  • Executive protection agents
  • Event staff
  • Weapon screeners
  • Bouncers
  • Protective agent
  • Night watchman
  • Any other position requiring a security activity to be performed in the course of employment.

You must have a valid Guard Card in your possession at all times while working.  Failure to have your Guard Card in your possession is punishable by a fine and administrative action.  If you work for an in-house security department then you must have a Proprietary Security Officer (PSO) registration.

California licensing requirements are among the most stringent in the nation with significant penalties for anyone found to be in violation.

I have a California Guard Card.  Can I be an “Independent Contractor”?

  1. This is unlicensed activity and a misdemeanor. Individual security officers with only a Guard Card MAY NOT enter into an agreement (contract) to provide security services, doing so is a crime.  To be a security contractor you must also possess a valid PPO (Private Patrol Operator) license.  A PPO is the license that BSIS issues to security companies.

How Do I Get My California Guard Card?

It’s a simple process to get your guard card.

  1. Take the Guard Card Course – This course is eight hours of training consisting of two classes:
    1. Powers to Arrest – Laws & rules of private person’s arrest.
    2. Weapons of Mass Destruction – Education on the tools & tactics of terrorists.
  2. Submit Fingerprints – Go to your nearest LIVESCAN facility and submit your fingerprints.
  3. Submit Your Application – Go to the BSIS website and submit your Guard Card application. Have the following items ready:
    1. Credit card
    2. LIVESCAN form
    3. Guard Card course certificate of completion
  4. Check the BSIS Website – Once your Guard Card is approved you’ll be able to see it online.

Armed Security:

To work as armed security you must also have a Firearms Card.  Possession of a Guard Card alone does not allow you to carry a firearm on duty.  The firearms permit indicates the caliber of firearm you are permitted to carry.  Off duty law enforcement working as a security officer must also comply with this requirement.  A concealed firearm may not be carried unless the officer also possesses a valid CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon).

Permits for Other Weapons:

Security officers must also possess a certificate of training to carry:

  • Tear Gas
  • Pepper Spray
  • Baton

Additional Weapons and Security Accessories:

Currently BSIS does not require a permit, certificate or registration for:

  • Stun Gun
  • Handcuffs

Although security officers may attend training for these items and receive a certificate of training in their use and deployment, neither the certificate nor the training is required by BSIS.

Following these simple guidelines will ensure that you always have the correct registration, permit or certificate for the job you’re hired to do!

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