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General Information for On-Ice Officials

Referee Information

The following page provides basic information on becoming a referee and provides some basic information on this aspect of the game.


Select the image on the left to read the 2015 article by USA Hockey "Hockey Weekend: Two Rising Refs Meet NHL Counterparts"



The registration season for the Officiating Program begins on August 1, and all incomplete registrations must be completed by 12:00am (midnight), May 10 of the following year. USA Hockey officials registration is valid for the entire season in any district or state in the United States. Membership in a State or Local Officials Association is not required for USA Hockey officials registration.


Minimum/Maximum Ages

USA Hockey has no minimum or maximum ages for officials. however within New York State the minimum age is 14 years old.  It is highly recommended that, regardless of level attained, officials not work games of their own age classification or higher. Generally, officials can successfully officiate as young as age 10. However, some individual states do have restrictive child labor laws that do not exempt amateur sport officials. It is the obligation of the parent who registers a minor to determine the specific labor laws in their respective state prior to registering with USA Hockey.


New Officials (Never Been Registered)

All persons who have never officiated must register at Level 1 for the first season. The District Referee-in-Chief only, prior to registration, may make exceptions to this rule in extreme cases in which the applicant has extensive hockey officiating experience that would foster registration at Level 2. No first-time registered official may register above Level 2 for the first season.


Classification Requirements

LEVEL 1 Complete  

LEVEL 2 Complete  

  • Must complete online Membership Registration
  • Must submit Registration Fee ($60.00 + applicable Affiliate Fee)
  • Must have been Level 1 or higher (Complete) within the last two seasons  
  • Must attain an Open Book Exam score of 85/100 (or higher)
  • Must attain a Level 2 Closed Book Exam score of 24/30 (or higher)
  • Must attend and complete a Level 2 officiating seminar sanctioned by USA Hockey
  • Must complete Level 2 Online Education curriculum
  • Must complete SafeSport training every two years (if 18 years old or older) 

LEVEL 3 Complete  

  • Must complete online Membership Registration
  • Must submit Registration Fee ($80.00 + applicable Affiliate Fee)
  • Must have been Level 2 or higher (Complete) during previous season  
  • Must attain an Open Book Exam score of 90/100 (or higher)
  • Must attain a Level 3 Closed Book Exam score of 40/50 (or higher)
  • Must attend and complete an officiating seminar administrated by USA Hockey
  • Must complete Level 3 Online Education curriculum
  • Must complete SafeSport training every two years (if 18 years old or older)

LEVEL 4 Complete  

  • Must complete online Membership Registration  
  • Must submit Registration Fee ($90.00 + applicable Affiliate Fee)
  • Must have been Level 3 or 4 (Complete) last season  
  • Must attain an Open Book Exam score of 90/100  
  • Must attain a Level 4 Closed Book Exam score of 40/50  
  • Must complete a Level 4 USA Hockey officiating seminar each season, and pass Level 4 Skating Exam
  • Must complete Level 4 Online Education curriculum
  • Must complete SafeSport training every two years (if 18 years old or older).
  • Must arrange to have an evaluation completed, while officiating a high level game, by a trained USA Hockey Evaluator at least once during the current calendar year.

An official may not change their Registration Level to a higher level once online Membership Registration is completed.

Taking a Closed Book Exam at a level higher than an official's level of Membership Registration will not satisfy their Closed Book Exam requirment (a Level 3 CB Exam will not complete Level 2 Registration). If a higher level exam is submitted, the exam will be rejected and the official will be "completed" as a Level 1 for the season.

"Complete" means that an official has met all the criteria (exams, seminars, online training, etc.) at the level for which he/she has applied. "Incomplete" means that an official has filed an application but has not completed all the necessary criteria to be "complete" at any level.  

A new official (not registered the previous year) may not officiate until he/she is completely registered. A returning official ("complete" the previous season) may not officiate after November 30 of the current season (expiration date on previous year's card) unless he/she is completely registered for the current season.


Open Book Rules Exam

Each season all officials must complete the Open Book Playing Rules Exam. Officials who do not receive the minimum score for the appropriate level, will be sent a retake notice and a new answer sheet. Only one Retake Exam per official is allowed after a seven day waiting period, and once available this retake must be completed within 30 days. In the event that an official fails the exam twice, he/she will become completely registered at the highest level for which the retake exam score would qualify (e.g., Level 1 =35/50 or 60/100; Level 2 =85/100; Level 3 =90/100; Level 4 =90/100).


Renewal Officials

Renewal officials may apply for one level higher than their completed registration level the previous season. Officials are allowed to take one season as "unregistered" or "incomplete" and return at the same level they were last completely registered at. Level 1 completely registered officials are allowed to take one season off and still be eligible for Level 2 the following season. The level that each renewal official is eligible for is designated on the online officiating application. An official may apply for a level lower than their eligible level. However, once the application has been received at the National Office, an official cannot change the level they had applied for.


Returning Officials

(After one or more season(s) ungregistered or incompletely registered.) 

We are always happy to have officials return to the USA Hockey Officiating Program after some time away from the program. Because of your past experience with our program you may be able to register at a level higher than Level 1, depending upon the level at which you were last registered. As a general rule, officials may take one season off (unregistered or incomplete) without forfeiting the current level status. However, if an official is away (not registered or incomplete) for the previous two seasons, he/she must apply for registration one level lower (except Level 1) than that of the last season "completely registered." A Level 4 official who takes 3 or more seasons off will be required to return at Level 2.


USA Hockey Officiating Program Seminar Requirements

Attendance at a sanctioned USA Hockey Officials Seminar is required for all applicants, regardless of level. This seminar must consist of both a classroom and ice-session, and must be conducted by USA Hockey trained instructors. At the seminar, every official and instructor in attendance must be sure to "sign in" on the official USA Hockey Seminar Attendance Form (unless they have pre-registered online). The Attendance Form will be returned to the National Office and attendance credited in each official's registration record. Level 4 applicants must attend a Level 4 specific seminar. There will be no opportunity to complete the Level 2, Level 3 or Level 4 closed book testing except at the USA Hockey seminar you attend.

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. Only Level 4 officials will be eligible to Referee National Championships.


Closed Book Exams

All Level 2, 3, & 4 officials must complete a Closed Book Exam while completing their Local Seminar. The official must take the appropriate level exam to receive credit towards their registration level (i.e.: a Level 3 CB Exam will not count towards Level 2 registration). If an official takes a Closed Book Exam at a level below their current season registration level, they may be "completed" at the level of the Closed Book Exam. If an official takes a Closed Book Exam at a level higher than their current season registration level, their Closed Book Exam score will be rejected and they will be "completed" as a Level 1 for the season.

There are no re-take attempts on any Closed Book Exams.

Total Number of Exam Questions: 50
Level 4 Passing: 40 or higher
Level 3 Passing: 35 to 39
Level 2 Passing: 34 or lower


Online Officiating Education

All officials must complete online education regardless of level or experience. Online Education consists of a series of Course categories (total of six).

  • Pre-Required
  • Required
  • Procedures
  • Positioning
  • Penalty Criteria
  • General

All course categories must be completed to finish online training.

All modules within the Pre-Required and Required categories must be completed. The remaining four categories contain a menu of elective modules and an official must complete the required number of modules (e.g. 4 modules of 7 offered) within the category to complete the category.

There will be a short quiz at the end of each module that the official must pass to complete the module and continue with education. If the official does not pass the quiz, the module will reset and the official must complete the module again.

Online Membership Registration must be completed for 24-hours before access to the Online Education System is granted.


USA Hockey SafeSport Education Program

As part of USA Hockey's continued effort to create a safe playing environment for all participants, those officials who are 18 years of age or older (as of August 1 of the current registration season) are required to complete an online SafeSport Education Program every two seasons. The online program is free of charge.


You will need your current USA Hockey Registration Confirmation Number (not your Officials Number) to complete training. Registration confirmation numbers can be obtained at the main USA Hockey Registration page.


Scheduling of Games

Registration with the USA Hockey Officiating Program does not guarantee any official any game assignments.

Officials are responsible to obtain their own game assignments from Local Game Schedulers as designated in each District. Any game scheduler who assigns incompletely registered officials for games is subject to serious liability as he/she jeopardizes the insurance coverage of the officials and both teams involved. Whenever possible, only level-qualified officials should be assigned to games. Updated listings of currently registered officials are available from the District Referee-in-Chief on a regular basis.