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Pennsylvania Background Checks

Pennsylvania background check, including criminal records, incarceration records, and inmate records

State Office

Pennsylvania State Police.
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110
(888) 783-7972

The Pennsylvania State Police acts as the state’s central repository for criminal records and is responsible for compiling, storing and disseminating criminal records upon request. Criminal records are collected from various law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts across the state, and include arrest notes, pending charges, convictions, incarceration details and dispositions. Background checks in Pennsylvania may be conducted by anyone, as Pennsylvania is an open records state. However, the data in Pennsylvania background checks released to the general public on a third party are limited. Only individuals reviewing their personal Pennsylvania criminal background check and law enforcement agencies may view a person’s entire criminal record.

Individuals requesting a Pennsylvania background check on another person are only entitled to receive conviction information, charges less than three years old that have no disposition, and all charges where an arrest warrant has been issued. Pennsylvania background checks are name-based, although all criminal records maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police are supported by fingerprints. If there is a discrepancy on a person’s record, that individual may be fingerprinted in order to determine whether a record was attributed in error.

Steps for Retriving a Pennsylvania Background Check

Step 1

To request a Pennsylvania background check by mail, download and print the Criminal History Request Form.

Step 2

Fill out the form and remit it, along with the appropriate fee, to the address on the form.

Step 3

Results can take four weeks or longer to complete and will be mailed when ready.

Step 4

Or, access PATCH (Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History) website and click on “Submit a new record check” under credit card user for a faster response.

Step 5

Enter the individual’s information. If the system detects a possible match, you will get an “under review” response, and you can return to the site at a later time to check the status. Any record results found will be mailed.

Pennsylvania Background Check Special Notes

Obtaining background checks in Pennsylvania is conveniently available online through the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) website. Authorized entities may register for an account, but there is an option for individuals to pay by credit card for single uses. A Pennsylvania criminal background check can be requested multiple times through this option. If a No Record result appears, this means that the initial check returned no criminal results, and users can print this certificate from the computer. If an Under Review result appears, this means there might be a match in the system, and a manual search begins from there. Any criminal record results are subsequently mailed to the requester.

Record request form

Individuals who wish to request Pennsylvania criminal records should download the Criminal History Request Form found at the following site: Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Request Form.