En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Pennsylvania

UPDATED May 25, 2017

Enforcing Your Out-Of-State Order in Pennsylvania

Print this page
View All

If you are planning to move to Pennsylvania or are going to be in Pennsylvania for any reason, your out-of-state protection order may be enforceable.

Registering your out-of-state order in Pennsylvania

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.  If your protection order meets the national criteria, it will be entered into the NCIC.*

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

* National Crime Information Center

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topHow do I register my protection order in Pennsylvania?

To register your protection order in Pennsylvania, you must get a certified copy* of your protection order from the court that issued it and then file it with the prothonotary in the county where you are living or staying.  There is no fee for registering your out-of-state order in Pennsylvania.

Once your order is registered, the prothonotary will give a copy of your order to the Pennsylvania State Police, and it will then be registered in the Pennsylvania State Police registry of protection orders.**

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Pennsylvania for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area on our PA Where to Find Help page.

* Defined in 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6102
** 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6104(d)(1)-(2)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topDo I have to register my protection order in Pennsylvania in order to get it enforced?

No.  Pennsylvania state law does not require you to file your out-of-state protection order in order to get it enforced.*  Pennsylvania gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order and will enforce it as if it were issued by a court in Pennsylvania.  Police officers in Pennsylvania are supposed to assume that your out-of-state protection order is real, unless a court says otherwise.**

* 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6104(d)(3)
** 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(h)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my out-of-state protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our PA State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is the Pennsylvania State Police registry of protection orders?

The Pennsylvania State Police registry of protection orders is a statewide database that includes all temporary and final protection orders that were issued in Pennsylvania as well as any out-of-state orders that were filed in Pennsylvania.  Law enforcement officers and courts can access the registry at any time, but the information is not available to the public.

When your order is issued or filed, the prothonotary will send the information on the order (including the names of the parties, the expiration date of the order, and the specific protections given by the order) to the Pennsylvania State Police registry within 24 hours of the time it is issued or filed.  If your order is changed in any way, the prothonotary will send the changes into the registry, and when your order expires, it will be taken out of the registry.*

* 23 C.S. § 6105(e)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

If you don’t register your order, it should not be any more difficult to get your order enforced.  Neither federal law* nor state law** requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced.  Pennsylvania law says that police officers must enforce an out-of-state protective order as if it were issued in Pennsylvania, and that only a court can declare an out-of-state protective order to be invalid.***

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Pennsylvania.  To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Pennsylvania, go to our PA State and Local Programs page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)
** 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6104(d)(3) & (e)
*** 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105(h)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No.  There is no fee for registering your protection order in Pennsylvania.*

* 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6104(d)(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top