Secret Shoppers in Nevada

Nevada has the most stringent requirements for secret shoppers. Most states have no special requirements or licensing and anyone can be a mystery shopper, but to mystery shop in Nevada you must be an employee of a licensed private investigator. As a result, you should not plan on picking up a couple of shops on your next trip to Las Vegas. If you live in Nevada, here is what you need to know about becoming a secret shopper.

Although you do not have to be a licensed private investigator yourself, you are required to (1) be an employee of a licensed private investigator and (2) obtain a work permit from the sheriff of the county in which you work.

The work permit costs $90 and is good for five years. To get the permit, mystery shoppers must complete a detailed application and be fingerprinted. The $90 fee is the responsibility of the mystery shopper.

Secret shoppers in Nevada are employees, not independent contractors. You must be registered with the state as an employee of the P.I. licensing firm. The P.I. firm pays the fee to register you. Because you are an employee, some companies will want you to work for them exclusively, while others will be open to you working for other companies. As an employee, you will receive a W2 form showing how much you earned and the taxes withheld, not the 1099 used for independent contractors.

The process of hiring shoppers is often different in Nevada. Because you will be an employee, and the company must register you with the state, you may go through one or more interviews (in-person or over the telephone) before being hired. After you are hired, you may be required to attend training programs held by the mystery shopping company.

To become a mystery shopper in Nevada, apply to a company that has the proper Nevada licensing. These companies include:

Service Sleuth

QSI Specialists

Bestmark, Inc.

The Benchmark Collaborative

Update (9/17/10):
A Closer Look is now licensed in Nevada.


  1. Victoria B. says

    I just want to thank you for having a page dedicated to the state of Nevada. I keep trying to tell my friends/family that Nevada has strict rules & you cannot just become a mystery shopper by singing up online. Thank you for keeping simple useful information out there for everyone to be able to attain.
    -Victoria B.

    • Cathy Stucker says

      Thank you–glad it was helpful. Anyone in Nevada will find out soon enough that there is more to becoming a mystery shopper than simply signing up online. Many mystery shopping companies state on their websites that they do not offer assignments in Nevada. Of course, the sites that charge fees (and are not really mystery shopping companies) will take money from anyone, even folks in Nevada. Never pay a fee to register with any company.

  2. Debbie says

    Have the statutes for NV changed at all in the last couple of years or are they still the same as stated in your article?

    Thank you for alerting all NV residents to this little known law.

      • says

        I just came across this site, and noticed that some of the information is a bit out of date. For anyone coming across this now, obtaining the required work permit has changed a bit. Elite Investigations is the licensed PI for some shoppers in Nevada, although we work with a partner for scheduling.

        The work cards are no longer issued by the sheriff’s department, they are issued directly from the Private Investigators Licensing Board (PILB). While you do still have to be fingerprinted, if you are in Nevada there are several fingerprinting companies that will submit them electronically directly to the PILB for your application, and the application can be done entirely online. The price has also gone up slightly, it runs about $100 now, but it is still valid for 5 years.

        Also, you don’t have to reside in Nevada to get this registration, or to do shops in Nevada. We have phone shops available that can be done from anywhere, although I don’t know what the availability for that type of shop is with other companies. There are quite a few people who live near Nevada, and pick up a shop or two when they come to Las Vegas for a visit.

        • says

          Christine, thank you for the update. It sounds as though it has gotten a little easier to shop in Nevada, but the process is still different than it is in other states.

          It is also good to know that Elite Investigations is still actively mystery shopping.

          Thanks again for taking the time to update us.

  3. says

    A Closer Look, Inc. is now licensed in Nevada and invite anyone in NV to apply with our company, especially if you already have a work card. No work card? No problem! You can go through the NV process to get a work card and after completing 6 shops for our company, we will reimburse the work card fee! For more information, please email us directly (

  4. Magda says

    Does this mean that one cannot be an independent contractor for mystery shopping in Nevada? or is it possible to obtain the licensing required to be self-employed?

    • Cathy Stucker says

      In Nevada, mystery shoppers must be employees of a licensed private investigator. If you want to start your own mystery shopping service (as opposed to working for someone else) you would have to obtain a private investigator license.

  5. JoAnne says

    I understand the laws in Nevada, but I think it’s unfair. Only people who work for PIs can actually be a mystery shopper. Do you REALLY need a license to review a restaurant or Walmart? How ridiculous is that?

    • says

      JoAnne, I agree that the Nevada law seems extreme. You do not need to have a license to mystery shop, but you need to work for a licensed Private Investigator. Fortunately, Nevada is the only state with such an anti-competitive law regarding mystery shopping.

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