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​​​Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH)

Required by Act 34 of 1985 and Act 114 of 2006, as amended, for all prospective employees of public schools, private schools and their contractors' employees who will work in direct contact with children. Also required for "student teacher candidates". This is one of three required background checks or clearances.

To be provided by the applicant and reviewed by the school (or higher education administrator) prior to the applicant working in a position in which he will have direct contact with children.

Criminal history reports shall be no more than five (5) years old at the time of employment.  See Act 114 of 2006 for further detailed information on PA background check requirements.

Following are procedures for obtaining the PA State Police background clearance.

Fee: $22.00 payable to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Electronic ​Submission

The Pennsylvania State Police established a web-based computer application called "Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History" or PATCH. Using this system, a requestor can apply for a criminal background check on an individual basis.

The information provided by the requestor will be checked against the criminal history database maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository. If the subject's information does not hit on any information in the database, the requestor will receive the results instantly over the Internet and the requestor can print out the "No Record" certificate. Eighty percent of the time, "No Record" certificates are returned immediately through the Internet to the requestor. If the subject's information hits on something in the database, the requestor receives an immediate "Request Under Review" response.

A "Request Under Review" response does not necessarily mean that the individual has a record; it does indicate the information is being manually reviewed. After review, the status will be updated to "No Record" or "Record". The requestor should check the PATCH website periodically for an updated status of their request. For all "No Record" responses, the certificate must be printed out at the requestor's computer. All "Record" responses will be mailed to the requestor at the address provided by the requestor. It may take up to two weeks for the status to be updated from a "Request Under Review" to a "No Record" or "Record".

PATCH accepts both Registered and Non-Registered Users. 

REGISTERED USERS: Companies, agencies, or offices that routinely have a need to make criminal record checks. The company, agency, or office logs onto Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History and then completes and submits the registration form.

NON-REGISTERED USERS: Individuals are considered non-registered users. They will not be accepted as registered users. Companies, agencies, or offices can also use the system as a non-registered user if they so desire. Non-registered users log onto Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History and select "Submit a New Record Check" under credit card users. The non-registered user can submit up to ten record checks during one session.

VALIDATING CRIMINAL HISTORY RESULTS: The information on a "No Record" or "Record" certificate form can be validated by accessing the PATCH Record Check Status screen and submitting a search request.​

Paper Su​bmission

Applicants may also use Form SP4-164, Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Record Check.

  1. Applicant must secure Form SP4-164 from the schools, Pennsylvania State Police Barracks or from the Pennsylvania State Police web site.
  2. Send the REQUEST FOR CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK with payment to the following address: Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository-164,1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758

For status of the Criminal Record Check, call 1-888-QUERYPA (1-888-783-7972).​