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Officials Commonly Asked Questions

Officials Commonly Asked Questions

Is there a minimum age to start officiating?

USA Hockey has no minimum or maximum ages for officials.  It is highly recommended that officials not work games of their own age classification or higher, regardless of level attained.  Generally, officials can successfully officiate as young as age ten years-old.  However, some local areas do have minimum age requirements due to their State’s specific Child Labor Laws.  In this instance, you will need to contact the Local Supervisor of Officials for location-specific information.

What are the registration requirements for the various levels of officiating?  

Levels Requirements
Level 1"Complete"Requirements  Complete online application  Attain an Open Book Rules Exam score of 35/50  Attend and complete a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar   
Level 2"Complete"Requirements  Complete online application  Completed Level 1 registration or higher within the last two seasons  Attain an Open Book Rules Exam score of 85/100  Attain a Level 2 Closed Book Exam score of 24/30  Attend and complete a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar  
Level 3"Complete"Requirements  Complete online application  Completed Level 2 registration or higher last season  Attain an Open Book Rules Exam score of 90/100  Attain a Level 3 Closed Book Exam score of 40/50  Attend and complete a USA Hockey Officiating Seminar   
Level 4"Complete"Requirements  Complete online application  Completed Level 3 or 4 registration last season  Attain an Open Book Rules Exam score of 90/100  Attain Level 4 Closed Book Exam score of 40/50Must  attend and complete a Level 4 USA Hockey Officiating Seminar each season  Receive "Pass" grading on Level 4 Skating Fundamentals Exam  Arrange to have an evaluation completed by a trained USA Hockey Evaluator at least once during the calendar year while officiating a high level game   
Status Definitions   "Complete" means that an official has met all the criteria (testing and seminars) at the level for which he/she has applied.  "Incomplete" means that an official has filed an application and has not completed all the necessary criteria for attainment of that level.   
AdditionalNotes   A new or returning official not registered the previous year may not officiate until his/her current year registeration is "complete"   A returning official who is "complete" the previous year may not officiate after November 30 of the current year(expiration date on previous year's card) unless he/she is "completely registered" for the current season. 

Can I attend a seminar before registering as an official?

Yes, unless otherwise specified by your local District or State, USA Hockey registration is not mandatory before attending a seminar. There is nothing wrong with a "prospective" official attending a seminar to see what is involved with the profession before commiting to registration.  Furthermore, since the registration fee is non-refundable it is strongly encouraged that an official confirms that he can attend a seminar before registering.  

How do I get an Official’s Application?

USA Hockey offers online registration for all officials. Simply log onto www.USAHockey.com and look for the “Register Online” icon. Renewal officials (those registered the prior season) will be sent a reminder postcard for the current season in early August.

Is there a fee involved with the official’s application?

The official’s registration fee is collected with the application and must be paid when the application is submitted in order for the application to be processed.  All revenue generated from the registration fees is used to cover the day-to-day operations the Officiating Program.  These include volunteer expenses, seminar expenses, educational materials, printing, postage, and all other expenses incurred to operate the program.

In addition, some districts or affiliates also charge a nominal registration fee in order to fund special programs and local operating expenses.  These fees may be collected as part of the USA Hockey application process and then are distributed to the district or affiliate level.

How do I find out if my Local Affiliate charges an annual registration fee?

Not all Local Affiliates (your local governing body) charge a fee each year; however this question can be answered by your USA Hockey Local Supervisor of Officials or District Referee-in-Chief. 

It looks as if I'm paying two registration fees to be an official. How do the fees break down?

USA Hockey's officiating registration fee is considered a separate entity from that of a player and/or coach. For more information on this question, click here.

How do I find out who is my Local Supervisor of Officials?

The Officiating Program Personnel Directory is located at USAHockey.com at the Directory button appearing on the Officials page.  Once you arrive at the Directory page, select your USA Hockey District using the appropriate links and find your District RIC and Local Supervisor contact information at your district page.

How do I get my Open Book Rules Exam?

The Open Book Rules Exam can accessed online at the Officials website 24-hours after online registration.  Information about completing the Open Book Rules Exam will be sent to you from the National Office upon receipt of your application and registration fee.  For those who register online, an email will be sent with information on how to complete the online Open Book Exam.

Where can I get a Rulebook?

All new officials will receive a copy of the USA Hockey Playing Rules & Casebook in the mail within a few days of their processed registration. Since the USA Hockey Rulebook is a two-year rulebook all returning officials will receive a copy of the Playing Rules & Casebook every two years (after each rule change process). The Playing Rules and Casebook is also available online at the Publications page at the USA Hockey Officials website.  

It is strongly recommended that all officials wait to receive their rulebook before completing their Open Book Exam.  

How long do I have to take the Open Book Rules Exam?

The Open Book Rules Exam is designed to be completed in a time frame convenient to the official. An official may sign into their exam and complete the entire exam in one day, or use the "save" feature to save their progress over a few days.

Please understand that new officials will not be eligible to work games until they have completed the exam and attended a seminar.  Furthermore, a returning officials’ previous year registration expires on November 30th of the new season, so they will need to complete the exam in a timely manner in order to continue to work games.  Ultimately, USA Hockey will accept Open Book Exams up until early May of the current season at which point the registration season closes.

Do I have to complete the Open Book Exam prior to attending my seminar?

It is strongly recommended that all officials attend their seminar prior to completing their Open Book Exam. We recommend all officials to sign into their exam and printing a hard-copy before attending their seminar. That way they may review the questions and ask the seminar instructors for assistance with any question they don't understand.

Additionally, the USA Hockey Officiating Manuals are distributed at all seminars. These Basic (Red), Intermediate (White), and Advanced (Blue) manuals are fillied with information about the positioning, mechanics, and procedures of the USA Hockey Officiating Program. This information is not related to the rules of the game and therefore it is not avaiable in the rulebook. However, there will be questions about this information on the various officiating exams.

Where do I find out about the seminars in my area?

Since seminar attendance is one of the registration requirements, USA Hockey conducts several hundred seminars throughout the country each season.  You can obtain seminar information by clicking the “Seminar” button on the officials page of USAHockey.com and then following the link to your specific District or State Affiliate website.

Often, a local area may add a late-scheduled seminar in order to accommodate officials who did not attend any previously scheduled seminars.  These seminars may not appear on the schedule or be posted on the website.  In this instance, you may wish to contact your Local Supervisor of Officials to inquire about a late scheduled seminar in your area.

How do I get credit for attending the seminar?

Depending on where you live, each official who attends a USA Hockey seminar must register beforehand (pre-register) or "check-in" and register at the seminar they attend.  Seminar attendance information is then sent to the National Office where your attendance is matched up with your registration record.

If Pre-Registration is not required in your area, it is imperative that each official "check-in" at the seminar. Furthermore, they may be required to sign an Attendance Form.  Officials who do not go through the required seminar "check-in" process may not be given credit for seminar attendance.

What should I bring to the seminar?

For the Classroom Session, all officials should bring a pen, notebook, USA Hockey Rulebook, and pencil (for the Closed Book Exam). While at the seminar, make sure you record the contact information for your Local Supervisor of Officials and Local Assignor for future reference after you complete your registration and are ready to work games.

For the On-Ice Session, all returning officials must wear their full officiating gear. New officials are expected to bring skates, a hockey helmet, and some form of whistle. We do not require full equipment for new officials.

Since most seminars last an entire day, officials may want to pack a lunch unless other arrangements are made.

Where do I take the Closed Book Exam (Levels 2, 3, & 4 only)?

The Closed Book Exams required for Level 2, 3, & 4 applicants will only be administered at the seminar you attend.  The exam books and answer sheets will be collected at the seminar and the answer sheets are forwarded to the National Office for grading.

It is imperative that each official take the Closed Book Exam required for the level they registered for.  If you submit the incorrect exam it will impact what level your registration is completed at.

What if I choose not to take a Closed Book Exam?

Provided you have completed and passed the Open Book Rules Exam and have attended a seminar, you will be issued a Card and Crest for Level 1 as you have met the requirements to be a Level 1 official.

When will I receive my Card and Crest?

Once the National Office has received your Open Book Exam, Closed Book Exam (Level 2, 3 & 4 officials only), and verification of your seminar attendance and you have passed all of the exams, your Card and Crest will be issued to you and you will be eligible to work games.

What do I have to do to make sure I am receiving emails such as registration conformation and exam results?

All of the emails sent from USA Hockey come from a server with the address of @usahockey.org.  You need to enter in a valid email address such as officiatingexam@usahockey.org into your email address list and that will let your spam filters know it is an "accepted" address.

Naturally, keeping your contact information current and accurate in the USA Hockey database is also critical to successful communication. To update your personal information please contact RefHistory@usahockey.org or call the Ice Hockey Officiating Department at the National Office (719-576-8724)

There is a lot of stuff going to and from the National Office. How long does it take to receive materials?

Generally, we are simply at the mercy of the U.S. Postal Service.  Once the material is received at the National Office, it will be processed and the appropriate materials will be sent out within 2 business days.  Furthermore, the National Office has little control over is the timeliness of receiving seminar attendance and Closed Book Exam information from our volunteer Seminar Coordinators. They are encouraged to submit the seminar materials within a day of the seminar, but sometimes it takes a little longer to reach the National Office.

You should also be aware that your Closed Book Exam results will not be forwarded until we have received verification of your seminar attendance and are issuing your Card and Crest.  Your Open Book Rules Exam results will be sent via email within an hour of submitting your answers, provided it is submitted online.

Of course, submitting your application and Open Book Exam online should speed up this process as we are not counting on the Post Office for obtaining some of the necessary information.

Is there a way I can check my registration status?

All USA Hockey Officials may check their Membership Registration status online at USAHockey.com.

Before this can be done, the official must create an online profile for themselves at the National Website. To do this the official must start at the USAHockey.com homepage. At the very top of the webpage there is a link titled “Create Profile”. Click this link and follow the instructions to create your USAHockey.com profile.

Note: This process does not register you as a member with USA Hockey. You will pay no registration fee and your membership information will not be affected.

Note 2: In order for your USA Hockey.com profile to extract accurate information from the Officiating Program membership database, your online profile….  

  • First Name  
  • Last Name  
  • Date-of-Birth  

must match your Membership Registration information exactly. If you registered with USA Hockey as Michael O’Toole, you must create your online profile with the same full-name (notMike or OToole).

Once your USAHockey.com online profile is created, a “Referee Status” link will appear at the top of the webpage after you sign into your profile. This link will lead you to your Registration Information page that will provide your USA Hockey officials number, current year exam scores, seminar information, and 10-year registration history. If a piece of your registration (Seminar or Closed Book Exam) is missing at the website it means the National Office has not recieved it yet; please contact your seminar coordinator to verify its shipment. 

Note 3: Due to Federal COPPA (Child Online Privacy Protection Act) Laws, we are not allowed to receive personal information via the internet from children under the age of thirteen. Therefore, officials under thirteen years of age cannot create an online USAHockey.com profile. If your son or daughter is too young to create a profile, you may check their registration status by contacting your District Referee-in-Chief or the National Office.

Now that I have my Card and Crest and I am eligible to officiate, how do I get games?

First, you should be aware that simply completing registration with USA Hockey is not a guarantee of game assignments.  Although we highly encourage all of our Local Supervisors and Local Assignors to involve every eligible official in the assignment process, it is still up to the individual official to solicit game assignments.

Contact your Local Supervisor of Officials or Local Assignor and let them know you are now eligible to work games and when you are available.  If possible, identify a more experienced official in your local area to serve as a mentor and who can also help you get games.  Once you get that first assignment, go out and give 100% to do your best and the rest will take care of itself.

Does USA Hockey have any assignment guidelines? What levels of games is each respective level of official eligible to work?

Yes, USA Hockey has established some assignment guidelines.  But they are just that – guidelines.  There may always be some unusual circumstances or emergency situations where it may be impossible to follow the specific guidelines.  In this instance, the game(s) should be played as long as there are capable and completely registered officials available to work.

USA Hockey strongly recommends that our younger officials only work age classifications that are at least one age group younger than what they would currently be playing at.  The remainder of the assignment guidelines are as follows:  


It is the policy of USA Hockey to only assign qualified officials to all levels of competition.  The USA Hockey Officiating Program strongly recommends the following guidelines be adhered to when scheduling all USA Hockey sanctioned games.

3 Official System

2 Official System

Age Class   Girls' Women's   Referee  Tier I T-II   Linesman  Tier I T-II   Referee  Tier I T-II  
Adult Elite     Level 4      Level 3       Level 3     
Adult US       Level 4      Level 3       Level 3     
Adult No-Check  Women's Adult  Level 3      Level 2       Level 3     
Junior A     Level 4      Level 3       Level 4     
Junior B     Level 4      Level 3       Level 4     
Junior C     Level 3      Level 3       Level 3     
HS Varsity     Level 3      Level 3       Level 3     
HS JV     Level 3      Level 3       Level 3     
18 & Under   19 & Under   Level 3  Level 3  Level 2   Level 3  Level 3  Level 3 
16 & Under   16 & Under   Level 3  Level 3  Level 2   Level 3  Level 3  Level 3 
14 & Under   14 & Under   Level 2  Level 3  Level 2   Level 2  Level 2  Level 3 
12 & Under   12 & Under   Level 1  Level 2  Level 1   Level 1  Level 1  Level 2 
10 & Under   10 & Under   Level 1  Level 1  Level 1   Level 1  Level 1  Level 1 
8 & Under   8 & Under   Level 1  Level 1  Level 1   Level 1  Level 1  Level 1

NOTE:  To be eligible to officiate in any State, Regional or National Championships, an official must be completely registered on or before December 31 of the current season.  If possible, only level 4 officials will be assigned to work National Championships.

As a USA Hockey registered official, am I eligible to work non-sanctioned games?

We take pride in the USA Hockey Officiating Program.  In fact, we are the only officiating organization that exists in North America that offers extensive, formalized training and education to its members.  Whenever you officiate a non-sanctioned game, the players of that league are directly benefiting from the USA Hockey Officiating Program, at no cost to them.  This is highly unfair to the 40,000+ teams who do register with USA Hockey.

Although we highly encourage officials to work only USA Hockey sanctioned games, there remains a number of officials who work non-sanctioned games, particularly at the Adult age classifications.  Any questions regarding the registration of a team with USA Hockey should be addressed to your District or Affiliate Registrar.  If you officiate in a game that is not sanctioned by USA Hockey (NCAA, National Federation of High Schools, and Minor Professional leagues are affiliate members of USA Hockey and may provide separate insurance coverage for their officials), please be aware that:

 1. You are not covered under the USA Hockey insurance plan, while officiating these games.

 2. You are prohibited from wearing the USA Hockey officials crest.

 3. You may face repercussions from the USA Hockey Affiliate Association.

Please help us in our endeavors to encourage these teams into becoming registered with USA Hockey by not officiating non-sanctioned games.  Thank you.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact your Local Supervisor of Officials.  Thank you for your interest in hockey and happy officiating!