Request a Criminal History Background Check

Use the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) site for the fastest response, but mail-in service is also available.


Criminal record checks can be requested on yourself, a potential hire, or, if you’re an attorney, your client. Some of the reasons you might need a background check include:

  • hiring an employee
  • volunteering
  • adopting a child (international or domestic)
  • fostering a child
  • applying for a visa
  • accessing and reviewing your records

Checks for volunteers are free. Other checks cost a fee, and some results can be notarized for an additional $5.

All online and mail-in requests are checked against Pennsylvania law enforcement agency criminal history records only, not federal records.

Types of Checks and Fees

Choose the method that is best for your request.

Request for Criminal History Check

Criminal history background checks for individuals are available at the PATCH site or download form SP 4-164, print the completed form, and mail it. An individual background check is $22 and can be notarized for an additional $5.

Volunteer Request for Criminal History Check

Volunteer checks are free and can’t be notarized. Request a volunteer check at the PATCH site, or download form SP 4-164A, print when completed, and mail it in.

Individual Access and Review

This check can only be requested by mail. Download form SP 4-170, complete it, and mail it. The fee for this check is $20. It can’t be notarized.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can check your criminal history request online at the PATCH site.

  • Make sure that you have the control number and the date that you requested your PATCH check. If you mailed your request in, call 888-783-7972, and choose option 1 to obtain your control number.
  • Go to Record Check Status.
  • Enter the control number, date of request and your name as it was entered when you submitted the request.
  • Once entered the information will display in one of four ways:
    1. Record – Click on the blue control number to take you to your Certificate.
    2. Request Under Review – The request has been added to our queue and will be worked on chronologically. This does NOT mean there is a record.
    3. No Record – Click on the blue control number to take you to your Certificate.

No Items Found – This means that you have entered something incorrectly when searching for your request.

The Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Certification process is managed by the PA Department of Human Services (DHS). Call 717-783-6211 or toll free at 1-877-371-5422 with questions about this certification.

Call the PATCH helpline at 1-888-QUERYPA (1-888-783-7972), Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If on a weekend or holiday, leave a message and contact information to receive a call back.

Companies, agencies and offices that routinely request checks can become a registered user on the PATCH site. Registered users can be billed monthly or use a credit card. Contact the help desk at 1-888-783-7972 and choose option 4 to set up a registered user account.

Online users can pay by credit card: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express are accepted. Registered users can be invoiced monthly. Mail-in payments can be made by certified check or money order.

On the PATCH site, up to ten record checks can be submitted per session. 

Checks made on the PATCH site can return some results immediately for individuals with no records. Checks that require more investigation are marked “under review” and may take two to four weeks.