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Become a Referee

Referees_Page_Graphic_(1)Become A Referee
Becoming a referee is a rewarding journey that takes a few simple steps.
Step 1 - Deciding to become a referee
Referees are an important third team involved in every game.  They serve an important role in every game.  Determining you want to help the game by serving as a referee is a noble endeavor that provides the opportunity for growth and development as a referee and a person.
Step 2 - Gathering your clearance documents
Step 3 - Registering for an Entry Level Course
Learning the laws of the game and the basics of officiating a match are two essential elements to becoming a certified referee ready to step onto the field for a match
Information about Required PA Background Checks
All referees, assignors, assessors, and instructors must provide the following four items:
  1. 1.  PA State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH)
  2. 2.  PA Child Abuse History Clearance
  3. 3.  FBI Criminal Background Check
  4. 4.  SafeSport Training (required on an individual's 18th birthday)
Please Note: The law provides that the FBI Criminal Background Check may be replaced for minor children (referees who are and will be 13-17 years old for the year) by a signed (by parent or guardian) and notarized affidavit attesting that the child has not committed any of the disqualifying crimes. If you are turning 18 years of age during the upcoming year you will need an FBI Clearance.
1. PA State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH)
  1. This background check may be completed online at
  2. The PATCH background check costs approximately $22 and requires a credit card for processing.
  3. Select “Submit a New Record Check” and accept the Terms and Conditions
  4. Select Reason for a Request as “Employment” and complete the steps in the process.
  5. The results for this check are generally returned immediately upon application through the internet. Save a copy of this clearance on your computer.
2. PA Child Abuse History Clearance through the PA Department of Human Services
  1. The Child Abuse background check costs approximately $8 and requires a credit card for processing.
  2. This background check may be completed online at
  3. If you do not have an individual account, Select “Create Individual Account” then “Next” and create a Keystone ID to create your profile.
  4. The results for this check are generally returned within a few minutes or a few days.
    1. If you receive it online, save a copy of this clearance on your computer.
3. FBI Criminal Background Check
  1. If you are 13-17 years old and not turning 18 in 2024, your parent or guardian needs to complete and notarize the Minor Child Qualification Affidavit.
    1. Click here to access the Minor Child Qualification Affidavit.
    2. This affidavit must be notarized and attests that you have not committed any of the disqualifying crimes per Act 153.
    3.  If you are turning 18 years of age during the year (Jan 1-Dec 31) for which you are certifying/re-certifying you will need an FBI Clearance to receive your badge.
  2. The FBI background check costs approximately $25.25 and requires a credit card for processing.
  3. This background check may be begun online at
  4. This link will take you to the page managed by IdentoGO for the state of PA to help individuals attain an FBI clearance.
    1. The Department of Human Services link is your preferable option if you just referee Saturday/Sunday community club/classic games. SERVICE CODE 1KG756
    2. If you referee high school/PIAA as well, please use the Department of Education version (you may need to affiliate with a school). Otherwise, the PIAA will not accept it. You will need SERVICE CODE 1KG6XN
  5. This background check will require you to go to a fingerprinting location in PA. Locate a fingerprint location from the web site, and take the confirmation page with you. The fingerprint scan will generally take 10-15 minutes.
  6. The results of this check are generally returned within 4 to 10 weeks after your fingerprints have been taken.
Your background certifications under Act 153 are valid for sixty (60) months or five (5) years.
4. Safe-Sport Training
USSF has required that everyone 18 and older to gets Safe-Sport training. This will be part of the online training once you register for a recertification clinic or sign up for an entry level clinic. Referees should complete their SafeSport training through logging into their personal referee account in their learning center.  Refresher courses are due yearly at no charge.
5. Register To Take A Course
After gathering your clearances and SafeSport certification you'll need to visit the Official Management System (OMS) to register to take a certification course.  Select New Member Registration after you Click Here.
For re-certifying referees:  Click Here
For new referees:  Click Here
Uniforms / Kits
All PA West Soccer referees are expected to act and to look professional. You will need to obtain a referee uniform and should begin with a yellow USSF shirt, all-black shorts with pockets (NOT player shorts), two-striped black socks and black shoes (do not have to be turf or cleated, that’s your decision). You will need a watch with a count down/up timer, whistle and yellow/red card (the card “wallet” is not required).
Do not buy a track-style stopwatch. Do not use a neck lanyard for your whistle – use a wrist or finger lanyard. The Mini Fox40 is a very good whistle, is widely available, and is inexpensive.
As you complete matches, you can add to your kit (flags, additional shirts and other accessories). There are a number of local and national vendors:
  1. Official Sports (Official supplier for USSF)
What About Next Year? 
Referees must take a recertification exam every year. This fall, you will receive information via email informing you to log into the platform in order to complete your referee recertification. Recertification is an annual process by which you will register for the upcoming year, pay a recertification fee (usually around $50), and complete a recertification test (online) in order to receive your USSF badge and book for the next calendar year.