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Prior to submitting an application to the Colorado Department of Education, each applicant must submit a complete set of fingerprints for the purpose of obtaining a fingerprint-based national criminal history check by following the steps below. You will have 30 days from the date CDE receives your background checks to submit a complete application for a license or authorization. If you do not submit an application within these 30 days, you will need to submit another set of fingerprints for licensure purposes.
Important Note: Background checks (and credentials) expire at 12:01 a.m. on the date of expiration.
Per state board rule 1 CCR 301-37 2.04 (1)(a)(ii), an individual must submit a new set of fingerprints for licensure purposes if:
- an application is submitted after the expiration of a credential and the individual holds no other valid CDE-issued credential;
- if the individual physically relocates from Colorado for one year or more; or
- if, subsequent to the issuance of a credential, the individual is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (other an a misdemeanor traffic offense or infraction).
Fingerprints must be submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under your assigned Social Security Number via one of the approved fingerprint vendors as outlined below. (Be sure to select the icon for the type of background check you need.) For more information on how to obtain a Social Security Number, please visit https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.
Fingerprint clearances and background checks through other employers or state or government agencies are not transferable and do not exempt you from this process.
As part of the background check process, 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 CBI/FBI processes a fingerprint submission, they only provide those background checks to the entity identified as part of that submission (see the "How to Submit Fingerprints for ..." section below). If you submit fingerprints for licensure purposes, the background check reports only will be sent to CDE, at which point CDE will update your status in your COOL account.
This process can take up to six (6) weeks depending on your submission method, though it usually occurs much more quickly. You may check your background status in the "My Profile" section of your COOL account.
Please note: CDE's Enforcement Unit will not review a background result until a complete qualifying application is received.
You must have a COOL account before submitting fingerprints to CBI, so that we can update that account once the background checks are received:
- Create your one, lifetime COOL account under your complete legal name.
- You must have an assigned Social Security Number in order to establish your account. (How to obtain a Social Security Number.)
- Include a personal email address that you check often. We highly recommend that you do not use a college or school district email address.
Your fingerprint-based background checks received by CDE remain valid for 30 days (if no qualifying application is received) or for the time in which you hold a valid CDE-issued license or authorization. In many cases, an educator who consistently maintains an active, CDE-issued education license or authorization will need to submit fingerprints to CBI for licensure purposes once.
If you have submitted fingerprints for CDE credentialing in the past, but allowed all credentials to lapse - even if for one day - you must submit a new set of fingerprints to CBI for a current background check. This also applies to anyone who has placed a professional license on inactive status and does not hold another valid credential at the time of the reactivation request.
CDE reserves the right to evaluate all applications for adherence to fingerprint requirements and will notify applicants by email should any follow-up be needed.
Follow the instructions below for the type of fingerprinting you will need.
Fingerprinting for CDE is for any license or authorization issued by CDE pursuant to the Educator Licensing Act, 22-60.5-103 C.R.S. This includes both in- and out-of-state applicants (out-of-state applicants, please see the FAQs below for more information). These criminal history background reports are sent directly to CDE.
- You must include your Social Security Number and complete date of birth on your fingerprint submission.
- You must submit an application with us within 30 days from the date CDE receives your background checks*. If you do not submit an application within these 30 days, you will need to submit another set of fingerprints for licensure purposes.
- *You do not need to wait for background results to post to your account before applying, you can apply as soon as you have submitted your fingerprints through one of the approved fingerprint vendors. Do not rely on any type of status shown on a fingerprint vendors website. That is only a status check for their process and is in no way connected to any process with CDE. Always check your status via your COOL elicensing account.
Getting fingerprinted for field experience (student teaching) - For COLORADO traditional preparation students only*
If you are currently enrolled in a Colorado traditional preparation program and will be completing field experience or student teaching, you may submit fingerprints for the purpose of obtaining a fingerprint-based criminal history check pursuant to 22-2-119.3 C.R.S. Your educator preparation program and/or the school district/BOCES that will be placing you will review your background information.
- In order for these background checks to qualify for licensure purposes, you will need to submit an application for licensure within 30 days of program completion. If you do not, you will need to submit a set of fingerprints under the Educator Licensing Act (CDE licensure icon above) at the time of application.
- CDE is not permitted to conduct a background check investigation under this statute; it is only a pass-through of criminal history information to your educator preparation program and/or the school district/BOCES in which you are placed. CDE only will conduct a background check when you and submit a qualifying application for licensure.
- Before moving forward, read the field experience information and complete the "Program" section in your COOL profile.
- You must include your Social Security Number and complete date of birth on your fingerprint card submission or you will be required to resubmit.
* Colorado alternative preparation program students and candidates from outside Colorado cannot submit fingerprints under this statute. You will need to submit fingerprints under the Educator Licensing Act (CDE licensure icon above) once you qualify for licensure.
This is for those private school educators who are not required to hold licensure, but where the governing board of the nonpublic school requires a fingerprint background check pursuant to 22-1-121 C.R.S. (If your private school requires licensure, follow the steps for CDE Licensure).
While the resulting background check results come directly to CDE, statute does not permit them to be eligible for use for licensing purposes.
If you are employed in a charter school, you need to submit fingerprints pursuant to 22-30.5-110.7 C.R.S. for your employing charter school. Before beginning, you must obtain your charter school's CBI account number which begins with CONCJ----.
The background check results will go directly to your charter school -- not to CDE -- and cannot be used for licensing purposes.
Some charter schools may require this in addition to any requirements needed for CDE, in which case you will get printed for both your charter school and for CDE.
Getting fingerprinted as a non-licensed employee of public school district (bus driver, custodian, office staff, etc)
If you are employed by a public school district in a position that does not require a CDE-issued license, fingerprints shall be submitted pursuant to 22-32-109.8 C.R.S. for your employing school district. Before beginning, you must obtain your school district's CBI account number which begins with CONCJ----. You may obtain this number from your school district's human resources department.
The background check results will go directly to your school district -- not to CDE -- and cannot be used for licensing purposes.
Q: I live outside of Colorado, do I have to come to Colorado to be fingerprinted?
A: No, after selecting the proper icon above, select IdentoGo as the vendor. Many IdentoGo locations outside Colorado may be able to assist you in submitting to Colorado. Or, you may select the "Submit A Fingerprint Card by Mail" link and IdentoGo will convert your fingerprint card into an electronic submission.
Q: I do not have a Social Security Number. How may I obtain one?
A: Visit https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ for more information and to initiate the process.
Q: Will CDE notify me when it receives my background checks?
A: We will update your COOL eLicensing account as soon as we receive the results from both CBI and FBI. You may check your background status by logging into your account and then click on "My Profile" where your status should be noted at the top of that screen. (If blank, CDE has not yet received your background checks.) Most statuses shown are self explanatory, more information regarding a particular status can be found by clicking here.
Q: What if my fingerprints are rejected by the CBI or the FBI?
A: If your submission is rejected by CBI, they will notify you. If your submission is rejected by the FBI, CDE will notify you via the email address you have associated with your eLicensing account. In either case, you will need to follow all instructions that accompany your notification. Generally, rejections are related to the quality of the prints, not with a criminal history finding. If you were printed at an IdentoGO location and the prints were rejected, IdentoGo will reprint you free of charge.
Q: Can I still submit a hard-copy fingerprint card?
A: Yes, but not directly to CBI. You must mail your card to a CBI-approved vendor card conversion center, which at present is via IdentoGo. Select the appropriate icon above, select IdentoGo and then select the "Submit A Fingerprint Card by Mail" link. For information on how to obtain a hard-copy fingerprint card, view additional FAQs.
Q: Can I get fingerprinted at my local police or sheriff's office?
A: Most people will need to select one of the options above to schedule an appointment at an approved fingerprinting center. However, pursuant to Colorado House Bill 19-1186, if you work for a Colorado school district/BOCES/charter school and the district/BOCES/charter school is more than 20 miles from a fingerprinting center, your district/BOCES/charter school can request that fingerprints be taken by the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction in that area. If you get printed outside an approved fingerprinting center, you still will need to select the appropriate icon above, select IdentoGo and then the "Submit A Fingerprint Card by Mail" link.
If your prints were submitted at one of the CBI-approved vendors via one of the icons above, processing time can take anywhere between a day to two (2) weeks (in rare cases). If you mail a hard-copy fingerprint card to one of the CBI-approved card conversion centers, the process can take up to six (6) weeks (longer in some cases).
- Do NOT mail fingerprint submissions to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) or the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). You must choose from one of the options above to submit a fingerprint card. Any fingerprint card sent to CDE is destroyed for security purposes.
- View an overview of circumstances that may result in Denial, Suspension, Revocation or Annulment of Licenses.