Has it been almost five years since you submitted your fingerprints? Then chances are you heard about the Fingerprint Retention Fee. If you are one of the many that have questions about this requirement, I’ll try to answer those below.
But first, a little background on the fingerprinting and background check requirement.
History of CS/HB 1065 (2014)
Like many of you, I had my fingerprints taken shortly before the deadline in 2015. At that time, all licensed massage therapists were required to have their fingerprints and background checks completed by January 31st, 2015. That means the Board of Massage had around 30,000 fingerprints results to track in just a few months.
Needless to say, it was chaotic. Out-of-state licensees struggled to find a fingerprint location, the board did not receive the results of some prints, and other massage therapists had prints rejected multiple times because their fingerprints had worn off from our work.
Not only that, we did not know much about the future of the new requirement in 2014. Future fees were not discussed in any of our notices.
And Here We Are in 2019
Five years later, we know a lot more. As it turns out, there is a fee for retaining fingerprints.
Let me first say this. This fee is not under the Board of Massage’s control. Fingerprints and a background checks are a requirement of a 2014 law (CS/HB 1065: Licensed Massage Therapists) for you to have a massage license in Florida.
Florida established the Board of Massage to keep the public safe from unqualified practitioners. The Board’s job is not to promote the massage profession. Background checks keep those with serious offenses from practicing massage (which truly is beneficial to massage therapists).
Fingerprint Retainment Fee FAQs
What is “The Clearinghouse”?
The Clearinghouse is a statewide database that provides a single data source for background screening results. This includes persons screened for employment or professional licensure, like massage therapists. Fingerprints remain in the Clearinghouse system for five years after the initial appointment. Retaining fingerprints keeps them in “the Clearinghouse” for another five years.
Any new arrests or charges of licensees trigger a report to the proper channels, like the Board of Massage. For example, if a licensed person (required to be in the Clearinghouse) is charged with human trafficking, the Board of Massage will receive a notice. They will then revoke the massage or establishment license.
How much is the fingerprint retainment fee?
The cost of retaining your prints is approximately $43.25. Do not let your license slip into null and void status because of this fee. Remember, it is less than the cost of one massage. And again, this fee does not go to the Board of Massage and is not a money-grab by them. Fees go to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, who maintains the Clearinghouse.
What happens if I do not pay the fee?
If you do not pay this fee, you must be fingerprinted again, which costs about $90. If you fail to do that, the following is a response from the Division of Medical Quality Assurance:
“This action may vary by board. If fingerprint requirements are not met our Departments Enforcement Unit opens a case and from there disciplines and fines may be imposed. This will cost an individual more money on top of being required to have the new screening completed for compliance.
How often do I need to pay this fee?
Every five years. Everyone has a different expiration date. Your date is not your colleague’s date, so do not go by what they tell you.
How will I know it is time for me to pay the fee?
You should see a postcard about this requirement in the mail soon if it has been almost five years. Some of you may have already got yours. My notice arrived approximately 30 days before my window to renew opened.
I created my account using this link to check my subscription. I have until January 2020 to pay my retainment fee. You cannot renew your subscription, or prints, until 60 days before your expiration date. Here is the image with my expiration date.
To check your expiration date, create an account here. Yes, it will ask for your social security number. And, yes, that certainly made me nervous. But, I do not know if there is any way around using it as an identifier. You can also find this same link on the Board of Massage’s FAQ page.
Since I wrote this article, my fingerprint retention renewal window opened. If you want to watch me go through the process (it was simple) so you know what to expect.
After two weeks, I logged back in and my screening status now says “determination made” (see below). I then clicked “check renewal availability” and it has my new expiration date: 01/02/2025. So, here is to five more years!
I still have more questions.
Here is additional information from the Board website about the fingerprint retention.
Also, you can drop a comment below or email me at [email protected], and I would be happy to respond.