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What Is California Live Scan?

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Live Scan is the fingerprinting process used to run an extensive background check on applicants for jobs in California. Jobs involving vulnerable populations, such as children or older adults, legally require a background check in California. Other employers may opt for this type of background check as well.

Live Scan Background

The California Department of Justice maintains criminal records statewide. Police, courts, district attorneys and other entities submit records of arrest and prosecution – known as RAP sheets – for the California Department of Justice archives. These records are submitted based on biometric identification; that is, by fingerprint, to ensure records are not inadvertently associated with the wrong person. Live Scan background checks rely on fingerprints to pull up a person’s formal record, so that previous criminal involvements, if they’re present, can be reviewed by a potential employer.

Live Scan Process

A person in California applying for a job that requires Live Scan receives a special request form from the employer. The prospective employee makes an appointment at a certified Live Scan location, which could be at a government agency office or a through a privately licensed operator. The operator checks the person’s identification, takes the person’s fingerprints electronically and then submits the data to the California Department of Justice.

Time Frames

If there isn’t a fingerprint match within the criminal records system, the Live Scan technician receives the clean report within 48 to 72 hours. A match requires a manual review by a technician, which could take an unspecified amount of time to complete the background check. Typically, a California Department of Justice-based Live Scan background check takes up to three days. The background check can take up to five days if the applicant requires an FBI-level check. If the Live Scan also involves a search within the Child Abuse Index Check, the search could take up to six weeks.

Live Scan Logistics

A person’s California Live Scan background check might take extra time for a number of different reasons. For example, poor quality fingerprints or incorrectly transmitted data might cause an error in the system. Although the cost of the Live Scan is the job applicant's responsibility, it’s not possible to pay extra to process a Live Scan more quickly. Live Scan results aren’t transferable; because records are issued in real time, any time lapse between employers necessitates a new background check.