A Note for Educators Who Hold a Current Colorado Credential
In many cases, an educator who consistently maintains an active, CDE-issued educational credential (authorization or license) will only need to submit fingerprints with their first application to CDE.
If you have submitted fingerprints for CDE credentialing in the past, but allowed all credentials to lapse and have held no active credential for a period exceeding 1 year, you must submit a new set of fingerprints.
CDE reserves the right to evaluate all applications for adherence to the fingerprint requirements and will notify applicants by email should any follow-up be needed.
Prior to submitting an application to the Colorado Department of Education, each applicant must submit to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a complete set of fingerprints, taken by a qualified law enforcement agency, for the purpose of obtaining a fingerprint based national criminal history check. This requirement needs to be met only one time for CDE (unless, under some special circumstance, you are instructed by CDE to complete another set of fingerprints pursuant to state law). Student teachers - see the below FAQ section.
As part of the fingerprint background check process, the CBI will forward the submitted fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You have the right to challenge the information contained in either the CBI or the FBI identification record. View details on challenging your criminal history record. Additionally, you may request a copy of your national criminal history record from the FBI. View details on obtaining your criminal history.
Once the CBI processes fingerprint submissions for background checks, they provide the results only to the agency/organization that is named on the card pursuant to a particular state statute that authorizes the fingerprint based criminal history check. In our case C.R.S. 22-60.5-103 is the statute requiring all licensed educators to submit fingerprints specifically for CDE. The results are non-transferable between governing state statutes and, therefore, cannot be released by the CBI to an organization that is not specifically listed on the fingerprint card. (For this reason, fingerprints submitted for a school district cannot be released to the Colorado Department of Education to satisfy our requirements).
Once CDE has processed your fingerprint results after receiving them from the CBI and the FBI your status will be updated. This process can take 4 - 6 weeks. To check your status, login to your eLicensing account and then click on the "Alerts" tab. A blank status will indicate that we have not updated your account, please keep checking your account as once we enter them your status automatically is updated. CDE does not make any other type of notification other than the status shown on the "Alerts" tab within your account. You can view instructions on checking your fingerprint and application status here.
Frequently Asked Questions/enforcement
Q: What do I do if I am a student teacher?
A: If you are currently in a teacher preparation program but you don't yet qualify for licensure, then you cannot be fingerprinted for CDE licensure purposes. View more information regarding fingerprinting if you are or want to become a student teacher. You can create an eLicensing account at any time and you should only create one (1) lifetime account using a personal email address. We highly recommend that you do NOT create your account with a .edu or other school email address as those addresses will change. The email address is the only means by which you will receive your license and information regarding your license. Please remember that you cannot apply for an initial license until you are fully qualified and have completed your educator preparation program in full. If you do not receive a credential from CDE within a year of completing the fingerprint process, you must submit a new set of fingerprints.
Q: As an educator preparation program (traditional or alternative) or a school district placing student teachers or alternative candidates, can I receive fingerprint results on a student teacher?
Q: Will I be notified by CDE when the results of my fingerprints have been processed by CDE?
A: While we will update your eLicensing account with this information, we will not contact you unless your fingerprints were rejected by the FBI (see the next question). To view your status in eLicensing, log into your account and click on the "Alerts" tab (view instructions here). If it is blank, we have not received and/or processed your result. Please check back often, as that lookup is in real time. Please do not call our offices asking about a fingerprint status as we update your account as soon as we receive results. Keep in mind that we must wait on both the CBI and the FBI before we post a status.
Q: What happens if my fingerprints are rejected by the CBI or the FBI?
A: If your fingerprint card is rejected by the CBI, they will notify you via U.S. Mail by returning your fingerprint card and fee. If your fingerprint card is rejected by the FBI, CDE will notify you via the email address you have associated to your eLicensing account. In either case, you will need to follow any instruction(s) that accompanies your notification. A rejection is generally related to the quality of the prints and has nothing to do with a criminal history that you do or do not have.
Q: Can I use my fingerprints that were taken for my district, out-of-state, or for any other reason?
A: No, fingerprints are not transferable, as each entity is permitted to require and receive a background check under different statutes. Prints must be taken specifically for CDE as shown below on the example card.
Q: Can I get fingerprinted at CDE?
A: No, CDE does not provide fingerprinting services. Also, please do not mail or drop off your fingerprint cards to CDE; you must mail them to CBI along with the fee, see below for more information. (Cards submitted to CDE will be shredded for your protection.)
Q: How long are my background checks valid?
A: For applicants who do not have a submitted application in process or an active credential, background checks will be valid for 1 year after the results are received by CDE. If your background check reports were received more than 1 year ago (and if you do not hold a valid CDE-issued educator credential), you must submit a new fingerprint card to CBI.
Fingerprints must be taken by a qualified law enforcement agency (police or sheriff's office). CBI will accept fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting service in another state if the fingerprint service provider has been approved by that State's Department of Justice/Bureau of Investigation. You may wish to call ahead to confirm that a particular law enforcement agency offers applicant fingerprinting and if they charge a fee for that service. Note that if they are submitting via a Livescan machine, CBI will accept them only if that law enforcement agency has an applicant fee account with CBI. If they do not, ask the agency to print the card from the Livescan machine for you to mail to CBI.
- Create your one lifetime eLicensing account with CDE. We must have an eLicensing account to process the results of your fingerprints once we receive them. Without your account, your results cannot be processed requiring you to submit another set of fingerprints after you create this account. Always use a personal email address that you check often. We highly recommend that you do not use a college or school district email address. You may have only one eLicensing account, so if you have already hold an account, please do not create another.
- Obtain an Applicant Fingerprint Card #FD-258. Most law enforcement agencies will provide this card as a part of their service. If they do not, you may purchase a fingerprint card from Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI) or Amazon.com. (Neither CDE nor CBI provide fingerprint cards.)
- Complete the top portion of the fingerprint card in black ink. All fields below (aliases, when applicable) are required to be completed. Missing or incorrect information entered on the fingerprint card will cause a delay in the background check and you will need to submit another complete fingerprint card and fee to CBI. Take the fingerprint card to your local law enforcement agency to be fingerprinted on this card. Note, some law enforcement agencies will want to complete the top portion of the fingerprint card themselves, always check with them first.
- Mail the completed fingerprint card along with the required fingerprint processing fee of $39.50 payable to the CBI to:
Colorado Bureau of Investigation
690 Kipling St., Suite 4000
Lakewood, CO 80215
This fee covers the search of the CBI and FBI records. CBI does not accept personal checks. Accepted forms of payment are: Money Order/Certified Check* payable to CBI, or credit card authorization. This fee is in addition to any fee(s) that a law enforcement agency may charge to do the fingerprinting and any application fees. *Money Order/Certified Check must be less than 1 year old prior to the processing of your fingerprints. Money Orders/Certified Checks older than 1 year will not be accepted.
Once your fingerprint card has been received by the CBI, the processing time is approximately 1–4 weeks, with and another 1-2 weeks once CDE receives those results.
- Do NOT send fingerprint submissions to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). If you send your fingerprints to CDE, for security reasons they will be destroyed. You will then need to complete the process again, submitting your cards along with the required fee to CBI.
- View a printable version of the information contained on this page (PDF). You can take the print-out with you when you are fingerprinted to assist the law enforcement agency in completing your fingerprint card correctly.
- View an overview of circumstances that may result in Denial, Suspension, Revocation, or Annulment of Licenses.