How to Obtain PA Mandated Background Check Certifications

PA laws requiring mandated background checks will require many Scouting volunteers to get 2, possibly 3, background checks and they must be renewed every five years.

What Clearances are needed and what do they cost?

  • Pennsylvania State Police Response for Criminal Background Check – Free
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance – Free
  • FBI Fingerprint Based Record Check – $22.60
    Volunteers who have lived in PA for the last 10 years may complete the “FBI Fingerprint Waiver” in place of the FBI Check. Volunteers who have not lived in PA for 10 years are required to get the FBI Fingerprint Based Record Check.

How long does it take to get the clearances?

Some of the clearances come back within a few minutes but it could take up to 4 weeks. The online application process depends on several factors but could take an hour or more in total.

How does a person apply for the clearances? has all of the state information and links needed.

Pennsylvania State Police Response for Criminal Background Check (PSP)

It is easiest to go to the Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History (PATCH) website and apply for the criminal record check online with the Pennsylvania State Police at: will need your social security number. 

If you would prefer not to submit your request online, please print out this form (SP4 164A) and mail it directly to the address indicated on it. If you have questions about the Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Record Check form for volunteers, please call: (717) 783-9973 or toll free 1-888-783-7972.

Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance

Please go to the PA Department of Pubilc Welfare – Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS) website at in order to apply online. You will need to create an account and then fill out the application. You will also need a list of everywhere you have lived since 1975 and everyone you’ve lived with. This will give you immediate access to your results or the status of your results if your results cannot be processed immediately.

If you prefer you can download the application at: The directions for filling out the paper form are on the last page of the application.

Fingerprint based FBI criminal history clearance 

Estimated cost-$21.35

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services previously utilized Cogent Systems to process fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks. Please be advised that effective at close of business November 18, 2017, Cogent will no longer be providing fingerprint services for ‘new applicants’. All ‘new applicants’ will be required to begin a new pre-registration with the new Commonwealth supplier, MorphoTrust, on November 28, 2017. Those unable to meet this deadline will be required to restart the process with the new Commonwealth supplier, MorphoTrust. (The fingerprint based background check is a multiple step process.
For more information and to begin the registration process, go to and use the code 1KG6ZJ 

If you need assistance, please contact our field team at [email protected]

This clearance requires you to visit one of the authorized fingerprinting locations. The link above gives a list of locations and the identification a person must have with them.

I live outside of Pennsylvania/am away at school out of state. Do I need to go to Pennsylvania to get my fingerprints taken?

Fingerprint cards are the only option for out-of-state applicants or optional for applicants who are unable to be printed electronically at a Livescan system within Pennsylvania. The following link gives the directions on how to use this option:

Ii I already have clearances, do I need new ones?

The current Law indicates that the clearances are transferable for volunteers. The clearances are good for 5 years from the date they were obtained so if you recently completed the background checks for another organization, you can use them for your Scouting position as well.