Office of Professional Practices

Fingerprint Records Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we require fingerprint record checks for K-12 education employment and certification?
Fingerprint-based background checks help to safeguard our children and strengthen public confidence in the integrity of public and private education. Here at OSPI, we support educators and administrators across Washington State, all of whom pay careful attention to the qualifications and background of potential new hires and applicants for certification. Fingerprint record checks are just one part of the rigorous process by which we select teaching, administrative, support and technical staff.

Who do we fingerprint?
Any individual who will have regular, unsupervised access to children:

  1. Anyone seeking a Washington State educational certificate.
  2. Anyone seeking certified or classified employment in a public school district, Educational Service District (ESD), Washington School for the Deaf (WSD) or the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB).
  3. Anyone working as a contractual employee for employers listed in "2." above.

What is "regular, unsupervised access to children?"
Each employer must define this term independently. Most organizations define "regular, unsupervised access to children" with the help of legal counsel.

What is digital fingerprinting?
Digital fingerprints look like a picture of all ten fingers, palm down. The technology we use is called live scan; these machines take high-quality prints by scanning the applicant’s fingers electronically to create a digital image. Once scanned, the live scan system submits fingerprint image automatically to the Washington State Patrol (WSP). The electronic scanner is clean, easy to use, and eliminates the need to ink-and-roll fingerprints manually onto a special card.

How do I get a digital fingerprint record check?
Here’s how to get your fingerprints into the background check process in four easy steps:

  1. Appear in-person at one of the state’s nine ESD offices. Call first, you may need an appointment.
  2. ESD staff will take down your basic demographic information.
  3. Pay the appropriate fee.
  4. The live scan machine scans, records and submits your fingerprints electronically to the Washington State Patrol.

If you can’t access a live scan machine at one of Washington’s ESDs, or need an alternate way to complete a fingerprint record check, please review Alternatives for Applicants Who Can’t Access a Live Scan Machine

Where do I get my fingerprints scanned?
Live scan fingerprint machines are available in all nine ESD offices. This map will help you to locate an Educational Service District.

What does a fingerprint record check cost?
Here are the basic fees:

  • The background check processing fee is $43 for all fingerprint background checks conducted electronically through the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This will include school district employees, educational service district (ESD) employees, contractual employees, private school employees, and certification applicants.
  • You may have your fingerprints processed manually for $61 by the WSP Criminal Records Division located at 106 11th Ave SW, Suite 1335, Olympia, WA 98504; but you must first pay the background check processing fee to OSPI and obtain an Electronic Applicant Submission form. Having your fingerprints processed manually ensures the WSP will not reject your fingerprints due to poor print quality.
Important Reminders:
  • Individuals should contact the agency providing the fingerprinting service to inquire about additional fees they may charge.
  • OSPI does not accept cash, credit or debit cards.

How long are my fingerprint records valid?
Two years from the clearance date we receive from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

My fingerprints did not scan well and were rejected because of poor print quality. What do I do now?
If your fingerprint card is rejected because of poor quality, there are two alternative solutions.

Alternative solution #1: get a second live scan

  1. Have your ESD or law enforcement agency rescan your fingerprints.
  2. Ask for a hard copy print out of the new scan.
  3. Attach the rejection notice to the new scanned and printed fingerprint card.
  4. Mail the completed fingerprint cards and rejection notice to WSP at:
    Washington State Patrol
    Identification & Criminal History Section
    PO Box 42633
    Olympia, WA 98504-2633

Alternative solution #2: get a second inked fingerprint card

  1. Request a fingerprint card from OSPI, your school district or ESD.
  2. Return to the agency that inked your first set of fingerprints onto the card and have your fingerprints ink-and-rolled a second time.
  3. Attach the rejection notice to the new (completed) fingerprint card.
  4. Mail the completed fingerprint card and rejection notice to WSP at:
    Washington State Patrol
    Identification & Criminal History Section
    PO Box 42633
    Olympia, WA 98504-2633

I lost my rejection notice. What do I do now?
Contact the Fingerprint Records Office at 360-725-6135 for instructions.

Will I have to get new fingerprints every two years?
By law, if you have completed a fingerprint record check through WSP and the FBI within the previous two years, the school employer may waive the requirement. If you change school district employers, and if your previous record check is more than two years old, you must provide a new fingerprint record check.

Can I provide fingerprint record check results I had done for another government agency, the military, or for a gun permit, (or other) as a substitute for OSPI’s fingerprint check?
No. Washington State law does not allow substitute versions of any fingerprint record checks. The law is detailed here, WAC 392.300 and RCW 28A.400.

Who receives my fingerprint results?
WSP/FBI sends the results of fingerprint record checks to OSPI. The results reside in a secure database that designated staff from public schools, colleges, and universities, Washington’s school for the deaf and school for the blind, private schools, as well as certification programs, can access online.

I am applying for a job in a private school. Do I need to provide fingerprints?
Washington State law, RCW 28A.195, authorizes approved private schools to require a fingerprint record check for job applicants.

I need an alternative way to complete my fingerprint record check.
If you can’t access a live scan machine at one of Washington’s ESDs, or need an alternate way to complete a fingerprint record check, please review Alternatives for Applicants Who Can’t Access a Live Scan Machine (links to second layer page, Alternatives for Applicants Who Can’t Access a Live Scan Machine above )

What happens if my fingerprint record check results show a Record of Arrest/Prosecution (RAP)?
Upon written request, a copy of your Record of Arrest Prosecution (RAP) sheet from the Washington State Patrol/FBI will be sent to you. We also send a letter to your potential employer – the superintendent of the school district or ESD – that contains only information about any convictions on the RAP. We do not share RAP information directly with colleges and universities; however, designated staff from these organizations can view fingerprint record check results through a secure Web site. School districts and the ESDs share fingerprint record check results with contract employers. We notify approved private schools by letter. The letter contains limited information from the FBI and only the conviction-related information that we receive from WSP.


Quick Clicks

About Fingerprint Records

Procedure, Fees and Payments

Fingerprint Records/Background Checks forms

Private Schools

ESD Locations


(360) 725-6135

   Updated 4/2/2018

Old Capitol Building, PO Box 47200, 600 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, WA    98504-7200    360-725-6000  TTY 360-664-3631
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