Public Information – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between a Standard file and the Masterfile?
A Standard file contains information on current renewable licenses listed under a single Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Board/Bureau/Committee/Program (hereafter referred to as "Agency"). The Masterfile contains information on current renewable licenses listed under the majority of the Agencies throughout California and contains over 2 million records for over 150 types of professional licenses.

Are these file types available for every Agency?
No. To determine which Agencies are included in the Masterfile, you may refer to either the Masterfile Request Form.

What is ASCII text and how do I use it?
ASCII text is a very basic file type that contains fixed width records and is NOT comma delimited. ASCII text files can be imported into a database or spreadsheet format, and can then be sorted. Please refer to your database or spreadsheet program for data importing instructions.

What do I do if my request does not arrive on time?
Contact the Public Information Unit via email at

Can orders be expedited?
Although we are unable to process rush orders, you may send your request and full payment via Quick Shipment (e.g., Overnight or Priority). Quick Shipment is paid for by the Requestor. Please provide the Public Information Unit with the tracking number and the expected delivery date for all incoming packages. (Completed orders will be shipped via standard United States Mail, at no additional cost, unless Quick Shipment is selected.)

You may also have your completed order delivered to you more quickly via any of the Quick Shipment methods by providing the vendor name, account number to be billed and priority method on the request form. The vendor shipping label must also accompany the request form; otherwise, the order will be shipped via standard United States Mail. The Public Information Unit will provide a tracking number to the Requestor for outgoing Quick Shipments. Note: Quick Shipment is not available to P.O. Boxes.

Can I fax in my request form?
No. Requests are accepted via mail since full payment must accompany your request.

What items can I fax to the Public Information Unit?
We accept questions or customer satisfaction surveys via the fax.

Are license numbers always included in the data?
Yes. License numbers are available through Standard or Masterfile requests.

Can I get any license information for free?
Yes. DCA Agencies provide various license information on-line. You may view this information by going to and clicking on "License Verification." Note: The webpage formats of these Agencies' listings may vary.

What methods of payment do you accept?
We accept personal checks, business checks or money orders made payable either to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) or to the individual Agency for which records are being requested.

Can the Public Information Unit make changes to the data?
No. License data is updated by the Agencies daily and cannot be altered by the Public Information Unit.

Is the data compatible with both Microsoft Windows and Macintosh?
Yes. Files are provided in ASCII text format, which is compatible with both.

Does the DCA ever provide a refund?
Fees are non-refundable unless there is a defect in the product. Replacement data is not applicable after five business days following the mailing of the output. The Requestor must submit a written request to the Public Information Unit, due to accounting requirements. Please allow 90 days for refunds.

If I ask, will the Public Information Unit place a hold on my request?
No. Requests will either be processed or cancelled. The Public Information Unit does not place requests on hold and is not responsible for any request received without the proper payment. If the Public Information Unit requires any additional information before processing the request, the Requestor will be contacted. The Requestor must supply this information within 10 business days or the request will be cancelled. If a request is cancelled, a cancellation letter and refund will be issued to the Requestor.

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