CNCS provides this state by state guide for informational purposes only and makes reasonable efforts to ensure the quality of the information. You are responsible for determining the suitability of the information and your use of the information in this guide, and for compliance with NSCHC requirements (45 CFR 2540.200 - .207). CNCS makes no express or implied warranty, no representation, nor assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness, timeliness, or completeness of any information in, or available through, this guide. The information in this guide is presented in good faith and believed to be correct. You assume the risk of relying on the information contained in this guide. Links to non-CNCS websites are provided for informational purposes only.

CNCS is not responsible for the content of non-CNCS websites. CNCS neither endorses the information, content, presentation, or accuracy nor makes any express or implied warranty regarding external websites or any commercial product or service.

If you identify information that is outdated, please notify us at

California is a closed records state.
Some form of criminal history information is open to the public in “open records” states. In “closed records” states, access to criminal history information is not generally available to the public, but is available to authorized entities (e.g. law enforcement agencies).

Contact Information

California Department of Justice
Record Review Unit
Phone number: 916-227-3849 

State Checks 

General Information on State Checks:

  • While two options for types of state checks are listed below, name-based and fingerprint-based, only one type of state check is required. CNCS does not recommend one of these checks over the other. Either the name-based state check or the fingerprint-based state check is acceptable.
  • Please note that to be in compliance with CNCS requirements, recipients may have to conduct checks in up to two states: the  state of service/work check on individuals in covered positions, as well as a state of residence check (i.e. if the state of residence is different from the state of service/work at the time of application).

Name-Based State Checks

Available from: The state repository does not conduct name-based background checks. Criminal history records are searched by fingerprint records only. See the section below on Fingerprint-Based State Checks for more information. 

Fingerprint-Based State Checks

Available from: State of California Department of Justice

What is released: Arrests and prosecutions

Cost: $15

How long does it take to obtain results? 48 hours

Additional notes: Fingerprint checks can be processed for a fee. The state charges a “fingerprint-rolling fee,” which varies by location. It is advised to review the application process and cost before going to fingerprint site. At , there is a PDF of all Applicant Fingerprint Processing Fees for volunteers. There is a criminal history processing fee collected by the California Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation for the background checks. If you are an out of state resident and you wish to obtain your criminal history record you must submit a fingerprint card to California Department of Justice, Record Review Unit.

The application and approval process for organizations to run checks in California is lengthy and can be expensive. One grant recipient shared with us that in their experience, the approval process for organizations can take anywhere from 2 – 5 months and costs approximately $100.00.

Approved Alternative Repositories 

State repositories are institutions that house and maintain the arrest and disposition (or outcome) information for cases handled in that state. Each state has a central repository, and CNCS has designated one in each state that grantees must use. In some cases, generally when a different institution is able to provide information that is equivalent to what is provided by the state repository, CNCS may designate them as an Approved Alternative Repository.
None at this time. 

FBI Checks 

FBI Check Guidance:

State Repository Provides FBI Checks: Yes

Available to: Individuals and Organizations. 

Cost: Fingerprinting will cost $15 and take about 48 hours. Two options:

1. Livescan fingerprinting: Complete and print the Request for Live Scan Service. Identify a livescan vendor in the state of California. Locations and hours of operations are available through this website: Bring photo ID (not expired) and payment for the vendor. (Vendor fees vary). If your site has asked you to process your FBI check through CA, add $15 for the FBI records search. You will then be prompted to enter relevant information.

2. Hardcard: (only for those seeking checks from out of state). Print out the Application to obtain a copy of state summary criminal history record and follow the instructions on the form. Please contact your local law enforcement agency for fingerprinting options. PLEASE NOTE: Your fingerprint card must contain your full name, date of birth, sex and return mailing address. Manual submissions must be accompanied by either personal check drawn on a U.S. bank, money order, or certified check. The check or money order must be made payable to the “California Department of Justice”.

CNCS FBI Channeler:  Organizations that cannot successfully use the state repository for FBI checks may use CNCS’s FBI-approved Channeler, Fieldprint, for FBI checks. 

Cost: The cost for one FBI check through Fieldprint is $27.50. 

How long does it take to receive results? The majority of checks conducted electronically take no more than two business days from the date the fingerprints are captured. If an applicant does not live near a Fieldprint livescan location and fingerprints must be taken manually and mailed, it will take longer to receive the results. See the Fieldprint Guide and FAQ (linked below) for more information.

More information: 
Fieldprint Guide and FAQs: (see document, “Using Fieldprint as an FBI Channeler – A Guide for CNCS Recipients”)
Fieldprint website: 


NSOPW (Nationl Sex Offender Public Website) Check

A required component of the NSCHC is a nationwide check of before an individual begins work or service in a covered position. Please note that a compliant nationwide NSOPW check must include reports from all states, territories, and tribes. If any state, territory, or tribe is unavailable at the time the NSOPW check is conducted, you must either run a nationwide NSOPW check again through and ensure that all entities are reporting, or run a separate check for each entity that is not reporting through the state sex offender registry website.

Please note that a check of a single state’s sex offender registry alone is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the nationwide NSOPW check requirement. The information provided in the State Sex Offender Registry Information section is for reference purposes only in the event that a single state sex offender registry check is necessary to supplement an incomplete nationwide NSOPW check.

State Sex Offender Registry Information

California Sex Offender Registry:

Revised as of 4/20/2017




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