In Québec, you must have an agency licence issued by BSP to offer services in one of the six private security activity classes subject to the PSA.
Once your enterprise offers private security services, it becomes subject to the PSA even if it does not carry out the activities itself, e.g., it entrusts them to a subcontractor or partner business.
Furthermore, the subcontractor must also have the required licences.
Private security activities subject to the PSA
Watching or protecting persons, property, or premises, mainly to prevent crime and maintain order
Searching for persons, information, or property, particularly:
Locksmith work, namely:
Electronic security systems
Installing, maintaining and repairing, and ensuring the continuous remote monitoring of:
(except vehicle security systems)
Transport of valuables
The transport of valuables.
Providing consulting services on protection against theft, intrusion, or vandalism independently from other private security activities, particularly by:
Individual entrepreneurs: Both agents and agencies
Individual entrepreneurs are subject to the PSA both as agencies, because they offer private security services to the public, and as agents, because they carry on the services they offer.
Self-employed individuals must therefore hold both an agency licence AND an agent licence in the appropriate class.
If you are self-employed, go to the Agent section to learn more about your obligations.
Thinking about offering private security services? Are you familiar with all the prerequisites for obtaining the required agency licence? Your enterprise as well as its representative and certain individuals affiliated with it must first meet the criteria. Consult the list below now to find out what they are.
The representative: A mandatory designation and important role
Every business must appoint a natural person as the agency representative who will deal with BSP on the agency’s behalf. Appointing a representative is required under the Act.
Consult the Agency Representative section for complete information.
Any agency must operate at least one establishment in Quebec
The Bureau wishes to guide you in better understanding the concept of establishment in Quebec in the context of your obligations as an agency licence holder.
Thus, your enterprise must operate at least one establishment in Quebec, that is to say, at least one physical place where your private security enterprise is operating, in whole or in part, even if the head office is outside Quebec. It could be, for example, a warehouse, a branch, a factory, a workshop, etc.
It is important to remember that an establishment in Quebec does not include a post office box, a professional service bureau (e.g., an accounting or lawyer's office), a simple mailing address of a person related to the agency, a virtual office if there is no private security activity relating to the agency, or any other address where no activity is carried out by the agency in relation to its private security services.
The Private Security Act ("PSA") provides in section 9 (1) that a business requiring an agency licence must operate at least one establishment in Québec. Failing this, the Bureau may refuse to issue a licence to this enterprise, or suspend, revoke or refuse to renew an existing licence, and thus forbid it from offering private security activities in Québec.
To obtain an agency licence, an enterprise cannot be in bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is declared during the term of the licence, the licence will be affected.
Mandatory civil liability insurance
When applying for a licence and throughout the term of the licence, your enterprise must have civil liability insurance providing at least $1,000,000 in coverage per incident, against the financial liability arising from an incident occurring in the course of its activities, for bodily injury or material damage. It’s important to send BSP proof each year that this insurance has been renewed.
BSP requires that proof be provided on the Certificate of Insurance form made available to you. This form must be signed by your insurance broker or an authorized agent of the insurance company.
You must provide BSP with a security in the amount of $10,000 to ensure your enterprise fulfills certain of its obligations.
The security may be in the form of a pledge of money or bonds or an insurance policy.
Security checks of affiliated individuals
To obtain an agency licence, and every year thereafter, certain individuals affiliated with the agency (see box below) are subject to a security check to ensure they:
- Have never been found guilty of a criminal offence related to the private security activity for which the agency is applying for a licence, unless they have obtained a pardon
- Are of good moral character, i.e., conduct themselves in accordance with society’s moral and social values
To determine whether the affiliated individuals meet these criteria, BSP must send their personal information to Sûreté du Québec (SQ) so that it can perform a security check. SQ will then inform BSP of the results of its verification and give its opinion as to whether each person has met the criteria.
Upon receipt of this information, BSP will determine whether the individuals meet the criminal record and moral character criteria.
Which individuals affiliated with the agency are subject to a security check?
Those who must submit to a security check are the owner, any partner or shareholder with a major interest in the enterprise, and any director. A major interest is where a partner owns 10% or more of the shares or a shareholder directly or indirectly owns 10% or more of the voting shares in the enterprise.
For example, the following are subject to a security check:
- In a sole proprietorship: The owner
- In a partnership: Partners who own 10% or more of the shares as well as the directors, if applicable
- In a company (corporation): Shareholders who own 10% or more of the voting shares and members of the board of directors
Do not confuse directors with officers! Only directors must be checked.
What if a business owner, shareholder, or partner is a legal entity?
If a business owner, shareholder, or partner is a legal entity, the entity’s shareholders or partners who directly or indirectly own 10% or more of the voting shares or shares, as the case may be, as well as the directors are subject to a security check. The same logic applies if these owners/shareholders/partners/directors are also legal entities.
Here’s a practical tip for a multi-layered corporate structure: Create an organizational chart of the corporate structure and include the names of all partners or shareholders and their interest percentages (shares or voting shares). Add the names of the directors of these entities. Continue doing this until all the names of owners/partners/shareholders/directors are only those of natural persons.
Obligations associated with an agency licence
When a representative sign the licence application form on behalf of the enterprise, he/she declares that to be aware of its responsibilities and obligations as representatives as well as those of the agency, if the enterprise is issued a licence.
Please familiarize yourself with these obligations now if you haven’t already done so.
Other relevant documents to be provided
In addition to copies of the documents pertaining to the abovementioned prerequisites, you will have to include the following with your application:
- A copy of the constituting act, contract of partnership, or declaration of registration made to the Québec enterprise registrar, whichever applies to your business.
Go to the Complete an Agency licence Application section when you’re ready!