Get Quotes from Top Locksmiths in San Francisco, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lock Smith or Pop a Lock in San Francisco

Getting back into an apartment after a break-in can be frightening, especially since many burglary incidents are not easily resolved. Hence, this is an appropriate time to call in a good locksmith to upgrade your locks, replace old keys, or install a smart security system. Note that a burglarized house is four times more likely to witness another break-in in the following six weeks.

When in search of a locksmith in San Francisco in any emergency, including when you forgot the combination to your safe, damaged a lock, or are locked out of your home, office, or car, ensure the technician is licensed and works in accordance with the California locksmith regulations by asking the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Locksmith in San Francisco?

San Francisco locksmiths are regulated by the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) through its Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). Per state requirements to provide services to their clients, a locksmith in San Francisco must be licensed by the BSIS. Non-compliance is considered a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by fines of up to $10,000, jail imprisonment of up to one year, or a combination of both.

To apply for a license, a locksmith may apply online via the DCA's BreEZe Online Services platform. Locksmiths applying must first create an account on the BSIS portal to submit an application. Alternatively, the applicants can fill out and submit a Locksmith Company Application for License Form, along with all necessary additional documents via mail to:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
P.O. Box 989002
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

Before a locksmith can be issued a license by the BSIS, they must meet certain requirements, and these include:

  • Paying all stipulated fees
  • Submitting two recent passport-quality photographs
  • Undergo a criminal history check conducted by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Applicants will be required to submit a separate Live Scan Request Form.
  • Providing any other documents that the bureau may deem necessary at the time of their application.

A locksmith business must ensure that they register their employees with the BSIS. Additional registration is also needed for any branch office the locksmith wishes to operate outside the primary place of business listed on their license. The registration process can be done online through the BreEZe platform or by submitting an Application for Locksmith Employee Registration Form or a Branch Office Registration Application Form, whichever is applicable, to the BSIS at the address listed above.

BSIS-authorized locksmiths who offer services worth more than $500 and require a separate state license must first obtain a separate state-issued license from the DCA's Contractors State License Board (CSLB). This agency issues the C-28 - Lock and Security Equipment or a C-61/ D-16 - Hardware, Locks, and Safes contractor licenses. If a locksmith provides services to a client worth more than $500 without having a valid license from the CSLB may face administrative and statutory penalties of up to $15,000 in fines, jail time of up to six months, or both.

Those who wish to apply for these must submit an Application for Original Contractor License Form to the address provided in the form. The applicant must also meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Pass a licensing examination
  • Undergo a background check
  • Meet the board's mandatory insurance and bond requirements
  • Have either a valid Social Security Number or an individual taxpayer identification number
  • Provide acceptable documentation to verify that they have attained no less than four years of locksmith-related work experience

To learn more about the licensing requirements for San Francisco locksmiths, you can contact the BSIS at (916) 322-4000 or (800) 952-5210 and the CSLB at (800) 321-2752. You can also check the licensing status of your prospective locksmith through the DCA's License Search portal.

Do You Hold Any Certification as a Locksmith?

When choosing a locksmith in San Francisco, it is important to consider your preferred locksmith's credentials, like professional certifications and membership in a trade association. Having these credentials can help you identify a more experienced and competent locksmith. Besides being able to provide quality services, these individuals also have other advantages over their counterparts, like:

  • Access to better insurance and bond options
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools and equipment and high-quality products
  • Access to current information concerning industry regulations and technological developments, and advancement
  • Access to good training and continuing education resources and opportunities

Organizations typically hold these types of credentials with higher standards of professionalism. These organizations can help make a locksmith more credible and reliable. Also, having these credentials can help improve the service delivery of a locksmith. However, it is important to note that these individuals must also have a valid state-issued occupational license, and you must confirm its validity before hiring the locksmith.

San Francisco-based locksmith professionals typically become members or obtain professional certifications from reputable organizations such as:

  • The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA)
  • The Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL)
  • The California Institute of Locksmithing

Some certification options that these organizations offer to interested parties include:

  • Registered Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Master Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Master SafeTech Certification
  • ALOA Fundamental Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Forensic Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Electronic Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Registered Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Automotive Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Professional SafeTech Certification
  • Certified Professional Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Master Electronic Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Master Automotive Locksmith Certification
  • Certified Institutional Lockshop Manager Certification
  • Institutional Certified Registered Locksmith Certification
  • Institutional Certified Professional Locksmith Certification
  • Institutional Certified Master Locksmith Certification

Before you hire a locksmith claiming to possess certifications or is a member of any reputable organization, ensure you verify such claims. Take a step further by contacting the issuing organization for authentication.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Locksmiths in the City?

A professional locksmith typically charges around $100 to $200 for their services in San Francisco. However, the exact amount that the locksmith will charge you will depend on various factors, such as:

  • Trip fees
  • The time of day
  • The complexity of the job
  • The types of locks involved
  • Your location within the city
  • The urgency of your required services
  • The scope and nature of the services that you require

Prior to making your final hiring decision, you should get and compare quotes from at least three locksmith companies to avoid getting stuck with a dubious individual. You should also be wary of companies with lower prices than the competition. This strategy allows dubious locksmith companies to trick their clients into thinking they are receiving top-quality services. Likewise, before agreeing to work with a locksmith in San Francisco, you should agree on the price quote. Failing to do so could lead to misunderstandings or disagreements regarding their payment method.

What Kind of Locksmith Services Do You Offer?

In San Francisco, there are various types of locksmith services that are typically categorized into four: residential, commercial, automotive, and emergency services. Many of the city's professional locksmith services are focused on providing one or more of these services, including:

  • Re-keying
  • Key replacements
  • Broken key removal
  • Existing lock repair
  • Car lockout services
  • Key cutting and copying
  • New lock installations
  • Smart lock installations
  • Safe unlocking and repair
  • Mobile locksmith services
  • Forensic locksmith services
  • Emergency locksmith services
  • Door and window lock repair
  • Electronic access installation
  • Safe selection and installation
  • High-security lock installations
  • Key impressions and lock picking
  • Home and office security lock upgrades
  • Access system installation, replacement, and repair

Even though there are many professional locksmith services in San Francisco that cater to a wide range of clients, it is important to ensure that the one you choose has the necessary skills and experience to handle the specific needs of your home or business. Before you start working with your locksmith company, make sure that you thoroughly discuss the rates with them and agree to the terms of the work. Also, ensure that the company you choose has all the necessary promises and assurances regarding the services it will perform in a service contract. This will help prevent misunderstandings and potential conflicts.

Listed below are average price ranges for commonly requested locksmith services in San Francisco:

Estimates for locksmith services based on the type of service:

Key duplication
$10 - $30
House/building lockout
$50 - $225
Door lock repair
$50 - $225
Door lock installation
$100 - $370
Key extraction
$50 - $220
Key replacement
$70 - $150
Rekeying house locks
$75 - $180
Safe opening
$150 - $465
Changing locks
$150 - $565
Filing cabinet lock replacement
$55 - $100
Mailbox key replacement
$55 - $100
Auto locksmith services
$20 - $375
Emergency services (in addition to regular charges)
$100 - $300
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Estimates for locksmith services based on the type of lock being installed/replaced (materials only):

Sliding Door
$20 - $350
$25 - $70
$25 - $70
$30 - $85
$40 - $95
$60 - $100
$100 - $560
$100 - $250
$150 - $360
$180 - $295
$200 - $520
Grip Set
$235 - $600
$250 - $535
$300 - $550
Door latch guard
$50 - $150
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Estimates for locksmith services based on the locksmith's expertise/level of experience

$50 - $75
$75 - $105
$110 - $165
Trip fees
$25 - $100
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Provide Auto Locksmith Services in San Francisco?

It can be very frustrating to lock your keys inside your car or when you lose them, especially since it compromises the security of your vehicle. Unfortunately, about 12.5 percent of vehicle thefts in the U.S. happen because the owners leave their keys or devices inside the car. Meanwhile, over 20 million Americans lose their car and house keys yearly. When it comes to dealing with issues related to misplaced or missing car keys, it is important to get in touch with a professional locksmith immediately to take immediate action to retrieve your keys.

When getting lost or damaged motorcycle keys, it is important to confirm that the locksmith company you contact has the experience and training to help you. This is because, unlike other types of keys, the coding used by motorcycle manufacturers is unique and different from that used by other vehicle manufacturers. The locksmith will require specialized equipment and skills to cut new keys, even if you still have the original key.

Before hiring a locksmith to help you regain access to your vehicle, make sure that they have the necessary skills and experience to work on your vehicle's specific make and model.

These are some of the services that car and motorcycle locksmith companies in San Francisco commonly provide, as well as cost estimates for these services:

Key duplication
$10 - $55
$40 - $155
Car lockout
$85 - $175
Key extraction
$50 - $200
Door lock repair
$50 - $170
Car ignition repair
$150 - $350
Changing locks
$50 - $180
Transponder key reprogramming
$50 - $250
Keyless fob replacement
$150 - $300
Key replacement
$75 - $280
Bike lock change
$70 - $180
Motorcycle key replacement
$85 - $120
Car door and truck lock repair
$50 - $250
Motorcycle seat lock repair/replacement
$10 - $50
Motorcycle steering/wheel lock repair/replacement
$20 - $50
Motorcycle gas cap lock repair/replacement
$10 - $30
Mobile services
$100 - $250
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Provide Emergency Locksmith Services?

Even though most lock and key-related emergencies are typically considered important, there are times when it is necessary to find a nearby locksmith in San Francisco who can quickly respond to some types of emergencies, like:

  • Your lock is damaged
  • Your keys have been stolen or lost
  • You are locked out of your home
  • Your key got broken inside the lock
  • You cannot remember the combination to your safe
  • Your home's access control system is malfunctioning
  • You moved into a new apartment and need the locks changed
  • You locked your keys inside your home, office, or car, and there are no spare keys available
  • You need to change your locks after a burglary or someone tried to breach your security

Although these situations require immediate attention, hiring a professional locksmith in San Francisco with the necessary skills and experience is still important. Also, consider the locksmith's proximity to the location where you have the issue.

A locksmith without proper training and licensing may not be able to provide you with a satisfactory job. To identify a qualified locksmith in your area, you can use online directories provided by various organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, the California Institute of Locksmithing, and Associated Locksmiths of America. Always remember that a locksmith may charge extra for emergencies, especially after regular business hours.

Mobile locksmith services are great for dealing with lock and key emergencies. These types of technicians work out of their mobile workshops, which gives them various advantages over their fixed-based counterparts, such as:

  • Faster response times
  • Better accessibility for difficult-to-reach locations
  • 24/7 availability
  • No towing fees for auto emergencies
  • More on-the-job experience and efficiency due to the high volume of jobs that they typically received

You can also rely on some self-service locksmith brands, such as KeyMe and MinuteKey, to help you with certain key-related emergencies. These provide various services, such as creating digital copies of your keys, which can be saved online or physically duplicated at designated kiosks. However, these services have a number of disadvantages, such as:

  • There might not be any self-service kiosks within your location.
  • They may not be able to immediately produce all physical duplicates of your key. This usually occurs with high-security keys.
  • Unauthorized parties can easily access digital copies of your key.

Having the contact information of at least two trustworthy local locksmiths can help you avoid these issues and lessen the burden of searching for a competent individual whenever you need one. Being aware of the following steps can also help prevent key-related issues from happening:

  • Get spare keys
  • Use lockboxes to prevent lockouts
  • Keep proper track of all your keys
  • Maintain your locks properly
  • Consider installing smart locks
  • Choose locks that suit your lifestyle, and take the time to familiarize yourself with their features

Do You Provide Smart Lock Services?

Over 11 million households in the U.S. have smart locks that can be operated using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. These locks do not utilize traditional lock mechanisms and require specialized equipment and knowledge to install, replace, or fix. They can be opened using a voice command or a fingerprint. In most cases, when dealing with lockouts involving smart locks, a skilled locksmith will need to have extensive programming and I.T. skills to fix the issue. If you have a smart lock that has been compromised or damaged, it is important to hire an experienced and skilled locksmith to address the issue effectively.

In San Francisco and other areas in the U.S., homeowners are still considering replacing their traditional locks with these types of locks due to their technological advancements. Despite the advantages of smart locks, they have some disadvantages:

Pros of having a smart lock Cons of having a smart lock
Ease of entry Reliance on phones and networks
Convenience due to remote locking and unlocking Reliance on batteries that need constant recharging or replacing
Enhanced security and safety Susceptible to hacking
Protection from lock picking High cost of installation
Connectivity with the rest of your home smart devices There is the possibility of the technology failing

Before you hire a locksmith to provide smart lock services, make sure that they are knowledgeable about the various operating technologies used in these products. Most smart lock manufacturers use a combination of different operating technologies for their products:

  • A digital key plus mobile app combo for wireless door unlocking
  • A programmable numeric keypad plus PIN code combo for door unlocking
  • A fingerprint sensor plus biometric authorization combo for door unlocking

Some smart lock products come with multiple operating technologies, giving consumers more options when opening their doors. Some of the leading companies in the U.S. that make smart lock products include:

  • August
  • Schlage
  • Lockly
  • Kwikset
  • Ultralog
  • Yale
  • Wyze
  • Level

Do You Conduct Background Checks on Your Employees?

In San Francisco, a locksmith business will typically carry out the following background checks on potential employees and current workers to guarantee clients they can be trusted:

  • Criminal record check: This process is typically carried out to check the backgrounds of employees and potential clients. The company will contact agencies such as the FBI and state and local governments to see if the employee has been convicted of a crime or is currently in legal woes.
  • Civil court check: This process involves going through the court records of both municipal and state courts to see if the employee has been involved in any civil lawsuits.
  • Credit check: This process also involves checking the employee's credit history. It usually involves examining various areas, such as unpaid bills, credit inquiries, and bankruptcy.
  • Driving records check: This process is carried out on employees using company vehicles. It involves making sure that the employee's driver's licenses are authentic. It also checks their records for any license suspensions and arrests.
  • Drug testing/screening: This process is usually carried out to ensure the employee does not use illicit drugs. These tests are usually conducted without any prior notification.
  • Education and employment verification: This process involves confirming the employee's academic background, prior experience, and employment history.
  • International background checks: These background checks are usually carried out on employees who have worked outside the country. They usually contact the relevant agencies in the country to gather necessary information.

Note that all locksmiths must complete a state-administered criminal background check before they can be licensed or registered by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). This means that if you plan on working with a company in San Francisco, ensure they have the same procedure for locksmiths working with them. This ensures that only reputable and experienced technicians can access your home or belongings. Doing so can help minimize the risk of theft and other criminal activities.

Ensure that your company has thoroughly screened the individuals hired to provide your services. Also, ask them to provide you with their names and descriptions so that you can confirm that they have photo I.D.s that can verify their identities before letting them into your home.

In addition, you can also perform a personal check on the services of any locksmith business in San Francisco that you are planning on working with by:

  • Searching local law enforcement, court, correctional facility records, and other public records for information on the locksmiths.
  • Requesting and checking references of the locksmiths' previous customers who can confirm their service delivery
  • Using reputable background check websites and services
  • Researching the locksmiths online using review websites and platforms like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review

Do You Provide a Warranty for Your Locksmith Services?

In San Francisco, a professional locksmith can provide their customers with two types of warranties. These are:

  • Manufacturer's Warranty: This type of warranty covers the lock used for the job, and it usually lasts for a year. If the lock is still under warranty, it is important to contact the manufacturer to resolve any issues related to the factory. However, since most professional and reputable locksmith firms use high-quality locks, it is unlikely that this will happen.
  • Workmanship Warranty: This warranty provides the customer with peace of mind that the lock was professionally installed and replaced. Workmanship warranties are usually valid for a specific period, just like manufacturers' warranties.

When choosing a San Francisco locksmith, it is important to consider whether or not they will issue a warranty. Although they may be offered impliedly or verbally, hiring a professional who only provides written guarantees is best. This assurance gives you peace of mind that their services are appropriately performed.

Although the terms and conditions of the warranty are usually dependent on the services that the locksmith provides, you can still easily void it when you carry out the following actions:

  • Failing to install the lock according to the manufacturer's specifications
  • Getting an unlicensed or unapproved locksmith or locksmith business to repair the installed lock
  • Damages or defects caused by misuse, negligence, poor maintenance, vandalism, or natural disasters

Therefore, you should read the terms and conditions of the warranty before taking any actions that could void it.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Locksmiths in the City?

Not hiring a locksmith with adequate insurance coverage makes you liable for various risks associated with their services. This includes the possibility of property damage, accidents, and errors the company might cause. Per state requirements, all locksmith firms in San Francisco are required to carry worker's compensation insurance. In addition, locksmiths in the city who want to provide services worth over $500 at a single worksite must post a $15,000 surety bond.

Asides from the required insurance coverage, it is also important that the preferred locksmith firm has professional liability and general liability insurance. These former cover the risks associated with the locksmith's negligence or improper service delivery, and the latter cover on-the-job accidents and injuries.

As such, before you hire a locksmith, ensure that you have the necessary proof of insurance and bonding. This will allow you to confirm the company's insurance status. Also, ensure that the firm's general liability insurance will cover the scope of work. You can authenticate any proof provided by the issuing insurance provider. For more information about the state's insurance requirements for locksmiths in San Francisco, contact the California Contractors State License Board at (800) 321-2752 and the local district office of the California Division of Workers' Compensation at (415) 703-5020.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Locksmith in San Francisco

You can file complaints against bad locksmiths in San Francisco with the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

According to the BSIS' 2021 annual report, it received over 2,800 consumer complaints. Issues with locksmith services and scams are common in the San Francisco area. These actions are carried out by con artists, dishonest security professionals, and other characters commonly trying to scam people who need locksmith services. Some of the unfair business practices include:

  • Asking for complete payment upfront, usually in cash, before beginning any work
  • Doing a subpar job Intentionally to get a call-back
  • Doing a shoddy job and abandoning the work before the client gets a chance to test the newly installed or replaced locks
  • Using low-quality locks for the job despite quoting premium rates for high-quality products
  • Using official-looking fake websites and low advertised rates to lure clients
  • Stealing money, valuables, or private information from clients' homes
  • Employing high-pressure sales tactics, threats, or intimidation to get clients to pay for unnecessary services

In 2017, a CBS San Francisco report stated that a contractor was arrested for committing residential burglaries. The report also stated that the suspect worked in multiple homes and was able to steal personal items, cash, and jewelry from the victims. Data released by the San Francisco Police Department indicated that there were over 30,000 cases of larceny thefts in 2021. This represents a 23 percent increase from the previous year's figures.

To avoid getting ripped off by a bad locksmith in San Francisco, you should use the following tips to find the services of legitimate, professional, and competent locksmiths in the city:

  • Ask your relatives and friends for recommendations to good and reliable locksmiths in the city. You can also get referrals from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the Associated Locksmiths of America.
  • Make sure you get and compare multiple price quotes from different locksmith companies.
  • Confirm that your intended locksmiths have been licensed before finalizing any hiring arrangements with them.
  • Never hire a locksmith in San Francisco who asks you for payment in full before the work begins.
  • Consider it a red flag if a locksmith business sounds vague on the phone, has a generic-sounding company name, or uses an 800 number instead of a local phone number.
  • Make sure that the company you hire has official branding.
  • Be wary of locksmiths showing up in an unmarked vehicle, unbranded uniform, or without official company markings.
  • Make sure you get and check references from other customers who hired your preferred locksmith.
  • Consider it a red flag if your locksmith wants to drill into your lock. Inexperienced and incompetent technicians are more likely to do this as they do not have the necessary skills to open locks.
  • Contact the San Francisco Police Department if your locksmith threatens you,

You can file a complaint with the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) regarding issues related to locksmith scams and subpar services in San Francisco. You can file online or by mailing a pdf complaint form to

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services
P.O. Box 989002
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002

If you have information about unlicensed locksmithing activities in the city, you can report to BSIS by completing a separate UAAU Activity Lead Form and submitting this form to the bureau via the appropriate submission channels provided on it. You may also report to the San Francisco District Attorney by submitting a complaint form online.

If these organizations cannot help you secure monetary compensation for the actions of the locksmith, you can still file a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court if you want to recover money from the locksmith. If you are planning on suing the locksmith, you should contact a qualified lawyer in San Francisco. You can find a lawyer near you by contacting the Bar Association of San Francisco online or by calling (415) 982-1600