Fingerprinting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Questions About the Process

Why does the Board require applicants to be fingerprinted?

The mission of the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (Board) is to diligently protect the life, health, property, and welfare of the public. By conducting a background check of licensees, the Board ensures standards for licensure and actively enforces laws and regulations.

Title 16, California Code of Regulations (CCR) Sections 420.1 and 3021.1 read, in part, “Pursuant to Section 144 of the Business and Professions Code, the Board has the authority to obtain and review criminal offender record information.” Please refer to 16 CCR §420.1 and 16 CCR §3021.1 for further information.

 

Who must be fingerprinted?

16 CCR §420.1(g) states that, “This section shall apply to all applicants, including those applicants who submit applications pursuant to Sections 6750, 6758, 6759, 6763, 6796.3, 8740, 8746, 8748, and 8803 of the Business and Professions Code.”

16 CCR §3021.1(g) states that, “This section shall apply to all applicants, including those applicants who submit applications pursuant to Sections 7840, 7841, 7841.1, 7841.2, 7842, 7842.1, 7843, 7846, 7847, and 7884 of the Business and Professions Code.”

 

What if I don’t want to be fingerprinted?

16 CCR §420.1(e) and 16 CCR §3021.1(e) state that, “Failure to comply with the requirements of this section renders the application for license incomplete, and the application shall not be considered until the applicant demonstrates compliance with all requirements of this section.”

 

I am applying for an Engineer-in-Training (EIT)/Land Surveyor-in-Training (LSIT)/Geologist-in-Training (GIT) certificate, which is not a license. Do I still have to be fingerprinted?

Yes. 16 CCR §420.1(h) and CCR §3021.1(h) read, in part, “As used in this section, “license” includes certification as …” an Engineer-in-Training or a Land Surveyor-in-Training or a Geologist-in-Training.

 

Once I am fingerprinted for my Engineer-in-Training (EIT)/Land Surveyor-in-Training (LSIT)/Geologist-in-Training (GIT) will I have to be fingerprinted again when I apply for my Professional Engineer (PE)/Professional Land Surveyor (PLS)/Professional Geologist (PG) license?

No. Once you have submitted fingerprints to the Board and they have been verified as valid, you do not need to submit fingerprints again with subsequent applications.

I have already submitted fingerprints to the Board for a prior application. Do I need to submit fingerprints for each subsequent application that I submit to the Board?

No. Once you have submitted fingerprints to the Board and they have been verified as valid, you do not need to submit fingerprints again with subsequent applications. 

 

When I submitted my initial application, I did not submit fingerprints because it was not a requirement at the time. Do I need to submit fingerprints with my Re-Examination Form?

Yes.  Since you were not fingerprinted at the time of your initial application, you will now need to be fingerprinted.  Applicants that did submit fingerprints with their initial applications do not need to be fingerprinted again.

 

How do I get fingerprinted?

California Applicants
Applicants residing in California must use the electronic Live Scan fingerprinting process.  Only Live Scan centers located in California are authorized for this process.  Fill out and carefully follow the directions on the Board’s Live Scan form (only use this Live Scan form).  Three copies will be printed automatically when you print the form.  Take all three copies to the Live Scan location. Please ensure that all personal data is completed on each of the three forms.  You must present a valid government issued photo identification when being fingerprinted.  Expired identifications will not be accepted.

Find an approved Live Scan location near you.  The Live Scan location link also includes location specific information pertaining to the need for appointments, hours of availability and rolling fees. 

The last section of the form requires information from the Live Scan operator.  Please ensure that the Live Scan operator completes this information and submits the digital prints to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

After completing the Live Scan process, you must submit one of the Live Scan form copies with your application for licensure or certification to the Board.  The results of the Live Scan are processed electronically by the DOJ and FBI and are typically received by the Board within two to three weeks.

Your prints will be sent to both the DOJ and the FBI to search for any criminal history.  Results from DOJ and FBI must be received and approved prior to the issuance of a license or certificate in California.  If you have ever been convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor or felony, the record of the conviction(s) will be reported to the Board.

Out-of-State Applicants
Out-of-state applicants may either submit the traditional fingerprint cards approved for use in California (see the next question for additional information) or travel to California to use Live Scan (the process explained above).

 

I don’t live in California. How can I get traditional fingerprint cards, and what is the process?

If you live out-of-state, request a set of fingerprint cards via our online request form. You will receive two (2) traditional fingerprint cards approved for use in California. Please allow up to 10 business days for the fingerprint cards to be mailed to you.  Take the fingerprint cards to your local law enforcement agency, or other authorized agency, to have your fingerprints rolled (a rolling fee may be required).  You must present a valid government issued photo identification when being fingerprinted.  Expired identifications will not be accepted.  Both fingerprint cards must be submitted to the Board with your application for licensure or certification.

Your prints will be sent to both the DOJ and the FBI to search for any criminal history.  Results from DOJ and FBI must be received and approved prior to the issuance of a license or certificate in California.  If you have ever been convicted of an infraction, misdemeanor or felony, the record of the conviction(s) will be reported to the Board.

 

Do I have to pay for the fingerprint process?

Yes. 16 CCR 420.1(c) and 16 CCR 3021.1(c) state, “The applicant shall pay any costs for furnishing the fingerprints and conducting the searches.”

California Applicants
You are required to pay the Live Scan operator the $49 processing fees ($32 DOJ and $17 FBI), in addition to the Live Scan “rolling” fee. The rolling fee varies because each Live Scan location sets its own fee. The listing of Live Scan locations includes information about the rolling fee for each location.  No additional fingerprinting fees are due to the Board.

Out-of-State Applicants
If you live out-of-state and are using fingerprint cards, you will need to pay the rolling fee to the law enforcement agency or other authorized agency that is rolling your prints.  This is in addition to the $49 fingerprint processing fee ($32 DOJ and $17 FBI) that must be paid to the Board. Send both cards back to the Board along with your application, the $49 fingerprint processing fee, and all applicable application and exam fees.

Note:  The fingerprint fees are not set by the Board and are subject to change without notice.

 

Do I send separate checks for the fingerprint card fee (out-of-state applicants) and the application and exam fees, or can I write one check for the total amount owed?

Make one check or money order payable to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).

 

I have already been fingerprinted previously for another agency/entity.  Can the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists access those prints so that I don’t have to be fingerprinted again?

No. Federal law allows a Criminal Records Report to be released only to the requesting agency. You need to undergo the fingerprinting and criminal history check process again specifically for the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists.

 

Do I have to be fingerprinted if I am renewing my license?

No. At this time, the law only requires that “new” applicants for licensure furnish a full set of fingerprints.

 

What do I do if my fingerprints are rejected?

If your fingerprints are rejected it is typically because the fingerprint impressions are of poor quality and they cannot be searched in the DOJ or FBI fingerprint databases.  In this case, reprints will be necessary.  This can happen with Live Scan or fingerprint cards. If your fingerprints are rejected, Board staff will contact you.  

 

Questions About Criminal Convictions

Must I disclose all criminal convictions, even minor offenses in college?

You must disclose all convictions as well as all cases in which you pled guilty or nolo contendere, even if they have been dismissed or expunged pursuant to Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. Please refer to 16 CCR §416 and §3060 for more information regarding criminal convictions.

Applicants should be aware that the Board receives information regarding actions that have been dismissed or expunged, and the application forms advise applicants to disclose all prior convictions including those that have been dismissed or expunged. If in doubt as to whether a conviction should be disclosed, it is best to disclose the conviction on the application. Please be aware, the Board will also be notified of all future criminal actions through subsequent reports from the DOJ and/or FBI.

 

What happens if I fail to disclose information on a criminal conviction?

As an applicant, you are personally responsible for all information disclosed on your application. Failure to disclose a conviction is considered a violation of the law. Failure to disclose a conviction may subject you to disciplinary action up to and including denial of licensure/certification or revocation of the license/certificate if the failure to disclose is discovered after the license/certificate is issued.

 

What information/records should I provide with my application if I have a criminal conviction and how should I provide it?

You must respond “Yes” when asked if you have been convicted of a crime in Section 4 of the application even if it was expunged or dismissed (see the answer above). You are required to attach a written statement disclosing all pleas/convictions and thoroughly explain in your own words the acts or circumstances that led to the plea/conviction.

Applicants must also provide certified court documents of the court records, including the complaint, complete docket, judgment and sentence and probation reports, if any, for all convictions. You may also be asked to provide copies of police and/or other investigating agency reports, as well as certified court documents of decisions from other state or federal agencies, if applicable. Providing these documents will assist the Board in processing the application as quickly as possible.

 

I was arrested but not convicted of a crime. How should I respond to the criminal record question?

You are not required to disclose an arrest that did not result in a conviction.

 

How might a criminal conviction affect my application for licensure or certification?

The Board is unable to provide legal advice to applicants or their representatives. Every situation is unique and is addressed on an individual basis at the time the application is reviewed. The Board reviews each conviction based not only on the conviction itself in relation to the statutes, but also on the underlying issues that led to the conviction.

A conviction that does not, at first glance, appear to be substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of an engineer, land surveyor, geologist or geophysicist may, under closer scrutiny, be revealed otherwise. All information related to an applicant’s criminal history is considered. The specific conviction; when it occurred; the circumstances surrounding the conviction; the number of convictions; compliance with the court’s terms and conditions; and rehabilitation are all factors considered when determining an applicant’s eligibility for licensure.

Further information can be found in the regulations relating to Substantial Relationship Criteria, 16 CCR §416 and 16 CCR §3060, and Criteria for Rehabilitation, 16 CCR §418 and 16 CCR §3061.

 

How can I demonstrate rehabilitation?

Applicants have the opportunity to explain any criminal conviction. You may be asked to do this in writing. In addition to providing an explanation, you may provide evidence of rehabilitation such as counseling, gainful employment, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program, etc.

Further information can be found in the regulations relating to Criteria for Rehabilitation, 16 CCR §418 and 16 CCR §3061.

 

What if I am denied licensure?

If your application has been denied, you have the right to appeal the denial by requesting a Statement of Issues hearing, pursuant to the California Administrative Procedure Act (Government Code Section 11500, et seq.).  Engineering and land surveying applicants must submit a written request for a hearing within 60 days of the date of denial, pursuant to 16 CCR §429 (e).  Geologist and geophysicist applicants must submit a written request for a hearing within 30 days of the date of denial, pursuant to B&P Code §7855.

 

What can I do to ensure that my application will not experience any unnecessary delays?

Please be aware that the number one reason that an application may be denied is the applicant's failure to accurately disclose his/her conviction record. Therefore, checking the "Yes" box when appropriate and providing the required information regarding each conviction are the most important things that an applicant can do to avoid unnecessary delays. In addition, respond promptly if contacted by Board staff.

 

Additional Information

I still have questions. How can I obtain more information?

If you have any other questions about the fingerprint process you can contact Jan Fowlks, the Board’s fingerprint coordinator, by email at bpelsg.fingerprint.questions@dca.ca.gov or by calling (916) 263-2325.

 

Where can I find the laws and regulations cited in these FAQs?

The laws and regulations are located on the Board’s website.

 

Where can I find additional information regarding the fingerprint results process and timeframes?

Additional information is located on the DOJ website.