Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding the Criminal History Record Check

Basic Questions
Fees
Out of State
New Applicants
PE Renewals
Exceptions
Results

 

Basic Questions

Who is required to have a Criminal History Record Check?

All new applicants and all active license and registration holders.

I am in Texas, how do I get my fingerprint check performed?

The requirement for submitting fingerprints for the criminal history record check is the same for all applicants, licensees and registration holders. Inside of Texas, the process involves electronic submittal of fingerprints to IdentoGO at one of its Texas locations.

I had a criminal background check performed recently for other purposes (Concealed Handgun License, other state licenses, security clearance, etc. ) Can I have that information submitted for the professional engineer license application/license renewal?

No. All criminal history record checks are considered to be separate to meet specific statutory requirements. There is a specific code set up for the TBPELS which must be used for fingerprint submission. For security reasons, requesting agencies are prohibited by law from sharing this information with each other. If you had your fingerprints done for any other reason, you will need to have them re-done using the TBPELS code. The only exception to this is RPLS holders who are also PEs. Since the agency code is the same for both professions, any PE who had their CHRC performed before 9/1/20, does not need to have the record check performed as an RPLS.

I've already had my criminal background check performed by IdentoGO for another type of license. Do I need to have it done again?

Yes. There is a specific code set up for the TBPELS which must be used for fingerprint submission. For security reasons, requesting agencies are prohibited by law from sharing this information with each other. If you had your fingerprints done for any other reason, you will need to have them re-done using the TBPELS code. The only exception to this is RPLS holders who are also PEs. Since the agency code is the same for both professions, any PE who had their CHRC performed before 9/1/20, does not need to have the record check performed as an RPLS.

I had my fingerprints done and I got a notice from IdentoGO that they were rejected. What does that mean and will I be able to renew my license or registration?

When fingerprints are processed by IdentoGO, they could be rejected by either DPS or FBI for various reasons. Please follow the IdentoGO instructions to have the fingerprints re-done. A rejected set of fingerprints will not hold up the renewal of your license. You will be allowed to renew even if the fingerprints are rejected. If you submit a second set and both are rejected, you don't have to do more. We are allowed to request a name-based search after that. Why are engineers being asked to get a criminal history record check?

When do I need to submit fingerprints to get my criminal history record check performed?

Fingerprints must be submitted to IdentoGO for the criminal history record check prior to application for a new license or registration and prior to renewal of an existing active license or registration. Get it done as soon as possible. It takes time to schedule the appointment and to process the fingerprint cards.

What other professions are required to have a criminal history record check?

According to the February 2012 Sunset report to the Texas Legislature, at least 51 other state agencies in Texas use fingerprint-based criminal history record checks including those that regulate attorneys, dentists, insurance professionals, accountants, nurses, realtors, and physicians.

Didn't you previously do some kind of background checks?

Yes. TBPELS has performed a different type of criminal background check through the Texas Department of Public Safety on new applicants based only on name and date of birth. The information available to TBPELS was only for incidents that occurred in Texas. The CHRC process provides information for incidents in all states, providing a more thorough and equitable search for Texas residents as well as out-of-state applicants and license or registration holders. Criminal history record checks were required for the first renewal of any active PE license after January 1, 2014 and after September 1, 2020 for RPLS.

What are the security requirements for the CHRC?

All data collected by the CHRC is required to be secure. The CHRC system is administered through DPS, and its vendor, IdentoGO. There is a contract agreement between these organizations, which requires the implementation of the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy put in place by the Department of Justice and the FBI. More information can be found here: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/pages/applicantfingerprintservices.htm.

 

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Fees

How much does the criminal history record check cost?

The fee for the required criminal history record check is $37 to be paid directly to IdentoGO by the applicant or licensee at the time of submission. You will not pay the fee to TBPELS. This is paid by the applicant, license or registration holder and is separate from your application fee or your renewal fee.

How do I submit my fingerprints? Who do I pay?

The collection and submission of fingerprints will be handled by a third-party vendor (IdentoGO) under contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety, not by TBPELS or any TBPELS vendor. Payment for the service will be made directly to the vendor. TBPELS will not collect any payment for the fingerprinting service.

 

 

Out of State

I am from out of state/out of the country, how do I get my fingerprint check performed? What options do I have?

The requirement for submitting fingerprints for the criminal history record check is the same for all applicants and licensees. Outside of Texas, the process involves submitting fingerprints to IdentoGO using a standard ink card called the FD-258. The ink cards will be obtained from local law enforcement agencies and when completed, will be mailed to IdentoGO for processing.

If you are unable to obtain the FD-258 fingerprint card from a local law enforcement agency, contact the TBPELS at Licensing@engineers.texas.gov and request a copy to be mailed to you. If you are not currently practicing in Texas, you want to consider putting it into Inactive status. You will be required to obtain a Criminal History Records Check, including fingerprint submittal when you apply to reactivate an inactive license.
NOTE: Changing to inactive status means a license or registration holder may not offer or practice engineering or surveying in Texas.

 

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New Applicants

What options do I have if I have something on my record?

If you have something or believe you may have something on your record, be sure to report it to the board on your application. If you do not, that may be considered an ethical issue and may result in additional steps in your application process, up to and including appearing before the Licensing Committee. You may contact the board at info@pels.texas.gov if you have questions about your background check. You may also request a pre-determination letter concerning your eligibility for licensure.

As required by Texas Occupations Code, Section 53.026, the State Auditor’s Office, in collaboration with occupational licensing authorities, developed the Best Practices Guide: Applying for an Occupational License After Conviction or Deferred Adjudication, SAO Report No. 20-327, to provide a general overview of the occupational licensing application process for a person with a criminal conviction or deferred adjudication for a felony or misdemeanor offense. The guide presents the process outlined in Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 53, and is not intended to serve as legal advice.

http://www.sao.texas.gov/Manuals/GuideToApplyingForLicenseAfterConviction/

I'm applying for a license. What happens if I do not get my criminal history record check performed? Will my application be denied? Will I lose the $80 application fee?

Criminal history record checks are required for all new applications after January 1, 2014. If fingerprints are not submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety through its vendor, IdentoGO , for a criminal history record check, the application will not be processed. If an application is submitted and the fingerprint submittal is not done, the application will be denied. License application fees are not refundable.

I had my Criminal History Record check done. How do I submit proof?

Keep a copy of the Tracking Control Number (TCN) and receipts given by IdentoGO and the Texas Department of Public Safety for your records. Provide that information on the application as proof that you satisfied the requirement, if necessary.

Do I have to wait to the results back before I can apply for a license?

No. TBPELS will get a report from IdentoGO and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that the fingerprints were submitted as well as the results of the record check. Keep a copy of the Tracking Control Number (TCN) and receipts given by IdentoGO and the Texas Department of Public Safety for your records. Provide that information on the application as proof that you satisfied the requirement, if necessary.

I do not want to have criminal history record check performed for my application. I want my money back for the application fee. How do I get a refund?

Application fees are not refundable. Criminal history record checks are required for all applications, so if you do not want to do one, you cannot apply for a PE license in Texas.

 

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License and Registration Renewals

I'm renewing my license. What happens if I do not get my criminal history record check performed? Will my renewal be rejected? Will I lose my renewal payment?

If fingerprints are not submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety through its vendor, IdentoGO , for a criminal history record check, the renewal will not be processed. If the renewal payment is submitted, but the fingerprints are not submitted, the payment will be rejected and the license or registration will not be renewed.

Do I have to wait to the results back before I can apply for a license or before I renew?

No. TBPELS will get a report from IdentoGO and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that the fingerprints were submitted as well as the results of the record check. Keep a copy of the Tracking Control Number (TCN) and receipts given by IdentoGO and the Texas Department of Public Safety for your records. Provide that information at the time of renewal as proof that you satisfied the requirement, if necessary.

I had my Criminal History Record check done. How do I submit proof?

Keep a copy of the Tracking Control Number (TCN) and receipts given by IdentoGO and the Texas Department of Public Safety for your records. Provide that information on the application or renewal form as proof that you satisfied the requirement, if necessary.

I went to IdentoGO and submitted my fingerprints, but they did not give me any documentation to submit with my application. What do I do now?

Contact IdentoGO as soon as possible. You need documentation of fingerprint submission (the Tracking Control Number)to complete your application or your renewal.

This is my first renewal. Do I have to get a criminal history record check performed?

Yes, if you did not have a fingerprint-based criminal history record check during your application process you will need to have one done for your license or registration renewal.

Will I have to get a criminal history record check for my renewal EVERY year?

No. You only have to submit fingerprints for the criminal history record check for your license or registration one time.

 

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Exceptions to the Requirement

If I put my license into Inactive status, am I required to submit fingerprints?

No. A renewal of a license in Inactive status does not require fingerprint submission. You will be required to obtain a Criminal History Records Check, including fingerprint submittal when you apply to reactivate an inactive license. NOTE: Changing to inactive status means a PE or RPLS may not offer engineering or surveying services to the public.

I am retired/over 65/disabled. Do I have to have criminal history record check performed? Is there an exemption from the criminal history record check fee if I am retired/over 65/disabled?

Inactive status is the only exemption from the criminal history record check requirement. There are no other exemptions.

I do not want to have a criminal history record check for my renewal. I want to go inactive/drop my license. How do I do that?

If you are not practicing engineering or surveying and do not wish to renew the license in Active status, you may put it into Inactive status. The fingerprint submission would not be required until you reactivate the license later. NOTE: Changing to inactive status means a license or registration holder may not practice or offer to practice engineering or surveying in Texas.

I am a volunteer fireman / I am in the National Guard / I am in the military / I am in the military reserves / I have a security clearance. Do I need to have the criminal history record check performed?

Yes. All active license and registration holders are required to have a criminal history record check. There are no other exemptions.

I have an engineering or surveying firm in Texas. Do all staff need to have criminal history record check including technicians, scientists, geologists, etc. or just the engineers? Why or why not?

The requirement only applies to licensed engineers and registered surveyors. All other professionals must comply with their particular licensing laws and requirements.

I had a criminal background check performed recently for other purposes (Concealed Handgun License, other state licenses, security clearance, etc. ) Can I have that information submitted for the professional engineer license application/license renewal?

No. All criminal history record checks are considered to be separate to meet specific statutory requirements. There is a specific code set up for the TBPELS which must be used for fingerprint submission. For security reasons, requesting agencies are prohibited by law from sharing this information with each other. Even if you had your fingerprints done for any other reason, you will need to have them re-done using the TBPELS code. The only exception to this is RPLS holders who are also PEs. Since the agency code is the same for both professions, any PE who had their CHRC performed before 9/1/20, does not need to have the record check performed as an RPLS.

I just got my Texas professional engineer license within the last few years and I understand that a Texas Department of Public Safety background check was performed for my application. Do I have to get the new criminal history record check performed?

Yes. This criminal history record check is required regardless of any previous background checks performed. The only exception to this is RPLS holders who are also PEs. Since the agency code is the same for both professions, any PE who had their CHRC performed before 9/1/20, does not need to have the record check performed as an RPLS.

 

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Results

What options do I have if I have something on my record?

If you have something or believe you may have something on your record, be sure to report it to the board on your application. If you do not, that may be considered an ethical issue and may result in additional steps in your application process, up to and including appearing before the Licensing Committee. You may contact the board at info@pels.texas.gov if you have questions about your background check. You may also request a pre-determination letter concerning your eligibility for licensure.

As required by Texas Occupations Code, Section 53.026, the State Auditor’s Office, in collaboration with occupational licensing authorities, developed the Best Practices Guide: Applying for an Occupational License After Conviction or Deferred Adjudication, SAO Report No. 20-327, to provide a general overview of the occupational licensing application process for a person with a criminal conviction or deferred adjudication for a felony or misdemeanor offense. The guide presents the process outlined in Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 53, and is not intended to serve as legal advice.

http://www.sao.texas.gov/Manuals/GuideToApplyingForLicenseAfterConviction/

Q: How do I get a copy of the criminal history records check report that TBPELS gets from DPS?

A: There's actually no physical or paper report received by TBPELS. Our staff has access to the DPS system to review an electronic version of the existing records. TBPELS does not receive a paper report of criminal history records for licensees or applicants, nor can we print one out. We only download and maintain the date that the fingerprinting was performed. This is done for data security and privacy reasons. You have the option of obtaining a copy of your Texas record for an additional fee ($25) by requesting it during the IdentoGO registration process. Please be aware that this report does not include records from outside of Texas and you will not be able to request a copy at the fingerprinting location. If you decide to request the report later, you may be required to submit a separate set of fingerprints. Please contact IdentoGO directly for more information on how to receive a copy of your records. For information on receiving a copy of federal records, please see this webpage: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks (requires an additional fee).

Q: If results are found, when will I be notified?

A: The CHRC results are reviewed by the Compliance & Enforcement Division within 45 days of fingerprint completion. As determined by the Criminal History Policy for Licensees each licensee will be notified within 10 days of that review if an inquiry is opened to gather additional information.

Q: Will I get a notification that my CHRC is complete?

A: Yes, TBPELS will send out emails every 2 weeks to engineers letting them know that their CHRC requirement has been met. Additionally, when a P.E. license is up for renewal, additional email updates will be sent.

Q: I had my fingerprints done and I got a notice from IdentoGO that they were rejected. What does that mean and will I be able to renew my license or registration?

A: When fingerprints are processed by IdentoGO, they could be rejected by either DPS or FBI for various reasons. Please follow the IdentoGO instructions to have the fingerprints re-done. A rejected set of fingerprints will not hold up the renewal of your license or registration. You will be allowed to renew even if the fingerprints are rejected. If you submit a second set and both are rejected, you don't have to do more. We are allowed to request a name-based search after that.

Who keeps the fingerprints? Will they be public information?

The collection and submission of fingerprints will be handled by a third-party vendor (IdentoGO ) under contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety, not by TBPELS or any TBPELS vendor. TBPELS will not receive or keep any fingerprints in our records. Information regarding criminal records may be kept in agency records, as necessary.

What happens if the criminal history record check shows a criminal incident or violation? Will my application be denied? Will my license renewal be denied?

• Under current TBPELS policy, applicants for licensure with criminal backgrounds are required to submit additional documentation and may be required to make a personal appearance with the Licensing Committee prior to approval depending on the type of incident and the time elapsed since it occurred.

• License and registration renewals will be processed after the fingerprints are submitted. Criminal incidents found as part of the criminal history record check will be considered in accordance with rule 139.43 and be handled by the TBPELS Compliance & Enforcement Division.