The Imperial Peace-Keeping Certificate (or IPKC) was issued by the Imperial Office of Criminal Investigations to beings who intended to hunt bounties. It was frequently known as the bounty hunter's "license to operate".
The IPKC was conceived by the Bounty Hunters' Guild to prevent amateurs getting in the way of their business. It proved the holder was entitled to hunt bounties and receive full payment upon completion. It required a one-time 1,000 credit fee, payable to any government licensing bureau. Anyone who delivered a bounty without this permit was only eligible for half the listed reward.
During eras not dominated by the Galactic Empire, similar documents with different names were used. They were often issued by many different governments (including the Chiss Ascendancy), so a bounty hunter might hold several permits to work in different areas.
The IPKC outlined what was required of the bounty hunters in their pursuit and capture of their quarry. There were several notable rules:
- First, unless the bounty was posted as "Dead or Alive", it was to be captured alive.
- Second, the quarry must be given the chance to surrender. However, "flight, refusal to comply with the directives of a registered hunter, prior activities indicating a predisposition to resistance to capture, resistance, or assault" is considered refusal to surrender.
- Third, injury, incapacitation or death of the quarry may only occur if the quarry has refused to surrender peacefully, however, the same exceptions that apply to the second rule also apply to this one.
- Fourth, only a reasonable amount of force is to be used.
- Fifth, the holder of the IPKC must promise not to accept any "illegal" bounties.