If you have questions about why your card was denied or suspended, you should contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at (602) 223-2279. If you have questions about requesting a good cause exception, you should contact the Board of Fingerprinting. Please click our Contact Us link to get in touch with the Board staff.
No, the Department of Public Safety denied or suspended your fingerprint clearance card. The Board of Fingerprinting is an agency independent from DPS. If you have questions about why you fingerprint clearance card was denied or suspended, you should contact DPS at (602) 223-2279.
A good cause exception is approval for an individual to receive a fingerprint clearance card despite his or her criminal history. If your fingerprint clearance card was denied or suspended, you normally need a good cause exception to get the fingerprint clearance card. To get a good cause exception, you must demonstrate that you are rehabilitated and not a recidivist (or, in a few cases, that you have not been convicted of an offense that would cause your fingerprint clearance card to be denied or suspended). The burden of demonstrating rehabilitation is on you, not the Board staff.
Probably not. Most agencies require an employee to be removed from the position immediately. However, the Board of Fingerprinting does not involve itself in employment-related issues. You should direct any questions to your employer.
The following jobs or activities require a fingerprint clearance card. (Some of the activities require a Level I fingerprint clearance card. For more information, see the section on the difference between Level I and standard fingerprint clearance cards.)
**Please note that the Legislature periodically adds new programs to the fingerprint-clearance-card system, so this list may not be complete. Also, this list does not include programs that the Legislature may or will be adding to the fingerprint-clearance-card system but which have not yet been approved by the Legislature.
- Adoption (through the Department of Economic Security)
- Alarm Agent and Controlling Person Certification
- Appraisal Licensure or Certification
- Assisted-living-facility managers
- Board of Dental Examiners (Dentist Licensure, Dental Hygienist Licensure, Dental Therapist Licensure, and Denturist Certification)
- Board of Fingerprinting members and employees
- Charter school employment
- Child care home provider
- Child day care
- Child nutrition program
- Child Protective Services employment
- Child welfare and adolescent behavioral health treatment
- Contractors, subcontractors, or vendors (including employees) for public or charter schools Department of Economic Security employment (non-Child Protective Services)
- Developmental disabilities (work with individuals with developmental disabilities)
- DES - Employee or Contractor with access to Federal Tax Information
- Domestic-violence-shelter employment
- Exceptional student services program
- Foster home licensure (through the Department of Economic Security)
- Health-science students and clinical assistants
- Hemp License
- Home Inspector Certification
- Home-health-agency employment
- Homeless-shelter employment
- JOBS/WIA programs
- Nursing-care-institution administrators
- Pharmacist and Pharmacy Intern Licensure
- Physical Therapist and Physical Therapy Assistants Licensure
- Real-estate licensure
- Residential- or nursing-care-institution employment
- School Bus Drivers
- Teacher certification
- Volunteer foster grandparent program
In addition, Arizona nursing schools may require a fingerprint clearance card. The clinical work you must complete as part of the nursing degree may include activity that requires a fingerprint clearance card. However, please note that the fingerprint clearance card is separate from the fingerprinting requirements that you must meet as part of your application to be certified nursing assistant or a registered nurse. You may be required to submit to an investigation by the Arizona Board of Nursing, and a fingerprint clearance card is not a guarantee that you will be granted certification or licensure from the Board of Nursing.
In 2009, a new law went into effect that created two types of fingerprint clearance cards rather than just one type. Beginning on July 1, 2009, DPS began issuing Level I fingerprint clearance cards, in addition to the standard fingerprint clearance cards. There are more types of criminal charges that can cause a Level I card to be denied or suspended, so the Level I card is more restrictive and harder to get. Standard cards correspond, for the most part, with the fingerprint clearance card that existed prior to the legislative changes.
Level I cards are required for the following professions or activities. (Also listed are the state agencies that regulate that profession or activity.) If your profession or activity is not listed below, then either a Level I card or a standard card will suffice.
- Adoption, Department of Economic Security (DES)
- Board of Fingerprinting members and employees
- Child care group home employees, Department of Health Services (DHS)
- Child care group home licensees, DHS
- Child care home providers, DES
- Child care employees, DHS
- Child care facility licensees, DHS
- Child Protective Services (CPS) employee, DES
- Day care home providers, DES
- DES contractors
- Developmental-home licensure, DES
- Division of Developmental Disabilities employees, DES
- Foster-home licensure, DES
- DES information-technology employees
- Non-CPS employees, DES
In certain circumstances, individuals who hold fingerprint clearance cards that were issued prior to July 1, 2009, can use those fingerprint clearance cards in place of a Level I card.
If you believe your criminal history records are inaccurate, contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to challenge them. The Board almost always will assume that the information in your criminal history records is accurate. For charges that took place within Arizona, call DPS at (602) 223-2222 to challenge your record. For charges that took place outside of Arizona, call the FBI at (304) 625-5590.
The length of the process depends on a number of factors. However, from the time the Board receives a complete application package and the criminal records that we order from the DPS, the Board will conduct an expedited review within 20 days. (We normally receive the criminal records about seven to 10 days after we receive your application.)
At the expedited review, the Board will either grant you a fingerprint clearance card or schedule you for a hearing. If you must appear at a hearing, the process may take an additional three to four months.
Other factors that may affect the length of processing time include the following, among others.
- Whether your application is complete on submission. An incomplete application package will delay your appeal.
- The amount of time you spend completing your application.
You can use our case-status page to find out the status of your case. The Web site is updated every day at 5:00 p.m.
In addition, you may contact the Board staff. Under no circumstances should you contact Board members about your good cause exception application. To contact the Board staff, please see our Contact Us link at the bottom of the page.
The Board applies the following criteria to the particular circumstances of your case and criminal history. By law, the Board must consider all of the criteria that appear in A.R.S. § 41–619.55(E).
- The extent of the person's criminal record.
- The length of time that has elapsed since the offense was committed.
- The nature of the offense.
- Any applicable mitigating circumstances.
- The degree to which the person participated in the offense.
- The extent of the person's rehabilitation, including:
- Completion of probation, parole or community supervision.
- Whether the person paid restitution or other compensation for the offense.
- Evidence of positive action to change criminal behavior, such as completion of a drug treatment program or counseling.
- Personal references attesting to the person's rehabilitation.
The Board also considers any substantiated allegations of neglect or abuse of a child or vulnerable adult made by the Department of Child Safety or Adult Protective Services (or comparable agencies in other states), even if children were not taken from you or criminal charges were not filed.
You can download a copy of our application. If you have trouble downloading or printing the applicant, you can contact us to ask that we mail you a copy of the application form.
**Please note: you should not download the applicant and submit it until your application for a fingerprint clearance card has been denied, or your card has been suspended. Do not submit an application until you receive the Department of Public Safety notice of denial or suspension because you'll need to include information from that notice on your application form. If you submit the application without this information, we will send the application back to you.
Our application requirements are outlined in our application package. However: you should not submit the package until you receive the Department of Public Safety notice of denial or suspension.
You should contact the appropriate courts or police departments to get copies of the records. Some courts may require you to pay a fee to conduct a records search or make copies of records. You are responsible for paying those fees.
In some cases, the courts (and, less frequently, the police departments) will not have copies of the records because of the length of time since the case. In particular, most courts will purge records a certain number of years after the case is closed. You should ask the court for a statement that it searched its records but could not locate a case. This statement will show either that you were not convicted of the offense in that court or that you completed any sentencing requirements because a court will not purge records unless the case was closed.
For more information about the requirement to submit court documents, please download our guide on court documents.
Yes. You may submit as many reference letters as you like. However, you must submit at least two of the reference forms that are part of the application package, and those forms must meet the requirements described in the application instructions. If you need additional copies of the reference form, you may download it at this link or by visiting our Forms page. The two references may be relatives or friends; individuals who can speak to your good character and rehabilitation; if applicable.
Any reference letters that you submit in addition to the reference forms should be signed and dated. You may submit reference letters that were not specifically written for the good cause exception application (i.e., a copy of a reference letter you have that was not written to the Board but rather for some other purpose). However, keep in mind that these letters often do not carry as much weight as letters specifically written for the good cause exception application process.
Yes. Even if your offense or criminal charges were from a long time ago, you must meet all application requirements.
An expedited review is the Board's initial review of your application. You will not be present for this review. Based only on the application materials you have submitted, the Board will decide one of two things:
- That you should be given a fingerprint clearance card, without having to appear at an administrative hearing
- That you should appear at an administrative hearing. Please note that you may have to appear at a hearing, even if you meet all application requirements.
When conducting an expedited review, the Board applies the criteria that appear in A.R.S. § 41–619.55(E).
Although the Board also applies these criteria to individuals who appear at a hearing, the Board is looking to see whether it can approve applicants without them needing to appear at a hearing. In general, the sorts of individuals who are approved under an expedited review are applicants who have very limited criminal histories, who have not committed an offense recently, who meet all application requirements, and whose offenses are not serious in nature.
Obversely, applicants who have extensive criminal histories, who committed crimes recently, who do not meet the application requirements, or who commit serious crimes normally have to appear at a hearing. Also, applicants who are awaiting trial, have outstanding warrants, or who have not completed their sentences typically must appear at a hearing.
The fastest way to find out the results of your expedited review is to check the status of your case online by going to this page:
You should wait until after 1:00 p.m. the day of the Board meeting; the Web site will not be updated before then. Alternatively, you can contact the Board staff on the Monday following the Board meeting.
If you are approved for a good cause exception at an expedited review, the Board staff will send two letters. The first letter will go to the address we have on record for you, and it notifies you that you were approved for a fingerprint clearance card. The second letter goes to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and it requests that DPS issue a fingerprint clearance card. After a couple of weeks, you should receive your fingerprint clearance card.
If you were not approved for a good cause exception at an expedited review, the Board staff will send you a letter. This letter will explain that you will need to appear at an administrative hearing and will give a tentative date for your hearing. Please note that this date may change and is provided only to help give you a sense of about how long you will need to wait for a hearing. At least 20 days prior to your hearing, the Board staff will send a formal notice of hearing by certified mail. This notice will give you the date, time, and location of your hearing.
If you have any change of address during the appeal process, you should contact the Board staff immediately to be sure you get all correspondence.
If you have to appear at a hearing, you must arrive at the time, date, and place specified in the notice of hearing. When your hearing begins, you will appear in a room before a hearing officer (also called an administrative law judge). The administrative law judge will swear you in and then ask you questions specific to your case. The administrative law judge will also give you an opportunity to make a statement. In this statement, you should explain why you should be granted a fingerprint clearance card, despite your criminal history. You may want to describe positive steps you have taken since your most recent offense to change your criminal behavior.
The hearing itself will be informal in the sense that it will be much like a conversation between you and the hearing officer. However, you should not be disrespectful to the hearing officer. Also, you should keep in mind that in this process, you have the burden of proving that you are rehabilitated. Although the administrative law judge may have questions to ask, you should be prepared to demonstrate why you should be given a fingerprint clearance card.
No. However, you may want to bring documentation that you have not submitted to the Board. In particular, if the status of a criminal case changes, you should bring a copy of any relevant documentation to your hearing. Also, if you failed to submit documentation that was an application requirement, you should bring a copy. Please be sure to bring an extra copy of any documentation because the administrative law judge may not be able to make a photocopy.
Yes. You can bring people to serve as character witnesses. It is common for applicants to bring employers, friends, family members, or counselors. However, space in the hearing room may be limited, so please consider bringing no more than three people. Please note that the administrative law judge may, in the interest of time, limit the number of people who speak.
We recommend that children under 18 not attend the hearing. If young children are brought to the hearing, an adult/guardian must stay with them in the lobby.
Although not a requirement, you may also bring an attorney representative to speak on your behalf.
All hearings take place in Phoenix. Your notice of hearing will give you a specific location in Phoenix.
Yes. If, without good reason, you do not appear at your hearing, your good cause exception application will be denied.
On occasion, the administrative law judge will allow applicants to participate in their hearings by telephone. In order to qualify, an applicant must demonstrate that personally attending the hearing would be an undue hardship. The administrative law judges rarely grant requests to participate in a hearing by telephone.
If you wish to participate in your hearing by telephone, you must submit a written request to the Board staff. You should submit this request as soon as possible–preferably as soon as you get your notice of hearing–in writing by fax, mail, or e-mail ([email protected]). The written request should explain, with as much detail possible, why you are asking to participate by telephone.
If you do not receive explicit authorization from the Board to participate in your hearing by telephone, you should attend in person. If you do not get a response from the Board before your hearing, you should attend in person. Failure to attend your hearing may cause your good cause exception application to be denied.
It may be possible to schedule your hearing for a date later than when you're scheduled. You may submit a written request to reschedule your hearing for a later date by mail, fax, or e-mail ([email protected]) . Your written request should explain why you want a later hearing date. If you have received a formal notice of hearing, you should assume that you must appear at your scheduled hearing, unless otherwise notified. Failure to attend your hearing may cause your good cause exception application to be denied.
The Board will not give you a hearing date earlier than when you're scheduled. The Board staff schedules hearings in order according to the amount of time it has spent processing the application. The Board will not force another applicant to wait for a hearing just so your hearing can take place sooner.
Individuals who need a foreign language or sign-language interpreter should submit a written request to the Board of Fingerprinting as soon as possible. We will hire an interpreter for the hearing. However, it is very important that you submit this request as far in advance of your hearing as possible, preferably as soon as you get your notice of hearing. Sometimes, language interpreters have limited availability.
No. For almost all applications (the ones submitted on or after September 26, 2008), at some point after your hearing, the administrative law judge will file a written recommendation to the Board to grant or deny you a good cause exception.
The Board will meet to decide whether to accept the recommendation; at this meeting, the Board will decide whether to grant or deny your application. About 20 days before the meeting, you will receive a written notice that lets you know when and where the Board will be meeting. This notice will explain that you may submit written objections and new evidence if you disagree with the hearing officer's recommendation; the notice will also provide a deadline for you to file your objections or evidence.
You will be able to attend the Board's meeting, but you are not required to attend. If you do choose to attend, you will not be given an opportunity to speak. You will only be allowed to attend silently.
If we received your application on or after September 26, 2008, the administrative law judge will make a recommendation to the Board, and the Board will make the final decision.
If the Board approves your application, it sends a letter to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which issues the cards and where you originally applied for a fingerprint clearance card. This letter will request that DPS issue a fingerprint clearance card. In general, once it receives the Board's letter, DPS will issue the card within a couple of weeks.
At any time, you may try again to get a good cause exception. However, you must apply again to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for a fingerprint clearance card. After DPS denies your application, you may request a good cause exception and begin the process again.
If you are denied a good cause exception, you will receive a letter that describes other legal options that may be available to you.
Yes. You should contact the Board of Fingerprinting by mail, fax, or e-mail ([email protected], if you've filed an email authorization form) as soon as possible when you have a change in contact information, particularly your mailing address. The Board will send information to the last known address. Some of this information may be time sensitive, such as a notice of hearing.
If you do not notify the Board of an address change, you may not get time-sensitive information. In turn, your application for a good cause exception may denied. For example, if you do not notify the Board of an address change, you may not get your notice of hearing. If you then fail to appear at your hearing, your good cause exception application may be denied.
You should notify both the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Board of Fingerprinting of a legal name change. You will need to provide a copy of the documentation that officially recorded the name change. For instance, if you get married, you will need to submit a copy of the marriage certificate. For information on how to submit documentation of your name change to DPS, you may contact DPS at (602) 223-2279.
Please see our Forms & Helpful Resources page for information and assistance on the application package. Included on that page are two documents to help you with areas of the application package that applicants often have trouble with.
Also, see our overview of the application process and frequently asked questions.
If you need additional help, please contact us at [email protected] or (602) 265-0135.