In‑Person Visiting Frequently Asked Questions

Reopening In-Person Visiting Program FAQ

CDCR began reopening for in-person and hybrid in-person/video visiting on April 10, 2021, with continued COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place to protect staff, incarcerated people, and visitors.

CDCR has expanded its in-person visiting at 35 institutions as part of its Roadmap to Reopening.

The department’s plan is a phased and tailored approach anchored in guidelines and guidance from public health and health care experts. Wardens and healthcare CEOs at each institution will determine the visiting status for each facility within the institution, based on the number of active cases, the time in between active and resolved cases, and other factors based on health and safety. Check the Facility Visiting Status page regularly for updates on the status of in-person visiting at each institution.

The department deeply values visiting, and will work hard to ensure people are able to see their loved ones as long as it is safe to do so.

Beginning April 10, 2021, CDCR began reopening institutions for limited, in-person visiting.

CDCR is expanding its in-person visiting at each institution using the phased and tailored approach outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening. Any institutions in the “Open Phase” of the roadmap will be permitted to conduct in-person visiting.

Family visiting will resume in the “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

Friends and family should regularly check the Facility Visiting Status page for updates on the status of in-person visiting at each institution.

All CDCR institutions in “Open Phase”, as outlined in the department’s Roadmap to Reopening, are scheduling extended overnight family visits. Visits are for no longer than 48 hours and are usually conducted in a separate facility on institution grounds.

This program allows an eligible incarcerated person to visit with as many as five approved family members. Only immediate family members that are approved visitors, including domestic partners, are authorized for family visits. There are no age restrictions for prospective visitors. The number of visits allowed is determined by each institution.

To schedule a family visit, an incarcerated person must request to schedule a Family Visit with the Family Visiting Coordinator.  The Family Visiting Coordinator at the institution will provide the necessary paperwork for the incarcerated person to complete, as well as a packet for them to send to their approved visitors to complete. Once all paperwork is complete and a visit is scheduled, the Family Visiting Coordinator will assist in arranging meals and other details. Depending upon the institution, family visits may be offered on the weekend, during the week, or both. Incarcerated persons and their families must pay for meals; all other accommodations are provided at no cost.

Each institution compiles a waitlist for family visit requests, prior waitlists are no longer in effect. Availability of visits, and turnaround time between approval and visit, varies with each institution.

Family members over age 2 must show proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test obtained within three days prior to the visit or present a valid vaccination card noting they are at least two weeks past their final injection. Neither face coverings nor physical distancing will be required during the visit.

Following family visiting, incarcerated persons will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and have a rapid test within 72 to 96 hours. Unvaccinated incarcerated persons also will be placed in precautionary quarantine for 14 days and tested prior to release from quarantine. Incarcerated persons who decline testing after a visit will be placed in quarantine for 21 days, regardless of vaccination status.

Family visits occur in private, apartment-like facilities on prison grounds and last approximately 30 to 40 hours. The following individuals are excluded from family visits: Incarcerated persons on Death Row, any incarcerated person with convictions for sex offenses, anyone in the Reception Centers process, or anyone under disciplinary restrictions. Family visits are restricted to immediate family members (parents, children, siblings, legal spouses, registered domestic partners, or who have a bona fide and verified foster relationship) of the incarcerated person. Family visits are further restricted by availability. An eligible incarcerated person must put in an application for a family visit with their assigned correctional counselor at the prison. Further inquiries about family visiting should be directed by the incarcerated person to their counselor or by the family to the respective institution visiting staff.

Effective August 7, in-person visitors who are unvaccinated MUST provide printed proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit. ON-SITE TESTING HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED.

Both the COVID-19 vaccine and various forms of testing are now widely available in our communities.

Visit the California Department of Public Health website to find a free testing location near you. Please note that self-administered home test results will NOT be accepted.

Visit VaccinateALL58.com for more information about getting vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated visitors must present their valid vaccination card indicating they are at least two weeks past the final injection in their vaccination series in lieu of a negative COVID test result.

No. Fully vaccinated visitors may present their vaccination card indicating they are at least two weeks past the last injection in their vaccination series in lieu of a negative COVID test result.

Effective Jan. 3, 2022, incarcerated persons must be fully vaccinated, or have an approved medical or religious exemption, prior to participating in the in-person and family visiting programs. “Fully vaccinated” is defined as being 14 days past the last injection of a series. Fully vaccinated and unvaccinated incarcerated persons will be permitted to participate in the video-visiting program.

All incarcerated people, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask during video and in-person visiting.

Unvaccinated visitors will be provided a KN95 mask that they will be required to wear while on institution grounds.

Fully vaccinated visitors will also be provided a procedure mask that they will be required to wear while on institution grounds. 

Approved visitors must use the Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA) to schedule in-person and video visits. VSA is easy to use and gives users instant confirmation of their request. Only those individuals who have already been approved as a visitor may make an appointment at institutions.

Beginning Dec. 9, 2021, CDCR will implement staggered start times for scheduling visits. Visitors will need to schedule visits at the time designated for the institution in which their loved one is housed. Staggered start times will be separated by region: Northern, Central and Southern.

Northern Region

The VSA request period will open from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. for the following institutions in the Northern region:

  • California Correctional Center
  • Central California Women’s Facility
  • California Health Care Facility
  • California Medical Facility
  • California State Prison – Sacramento
  • California State Prison – Solano
  • Folsom State Prison
  • High Desert State Prison
  • Mule Creek State Prison
  • Pelican Bay State Prison
  • Sierra Conservation Center
  • San Quentin State Prison
  • Valley State Prison

Central Region

The VSA request period will open from 6:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. for the following institutions in the Central region:

  • Avenal State Prison
  • California Correctional Institution
  • California Men’s Colony
  • California State Prison – Corcoran
  • Correctional Training Facility
  • Kern Valley State Prison
  • North Kern State Prison
  • Pleasant Valley State Prison
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison – Corcoran
  • Salinas Valley State Prison
  • Wasco State Prison

Southern Region

The VSA request period will open from 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. for the following institutions in the Central region:

  • California City Correctional Facility
  • Calipatria State Prison
  • Centinela State Prison
  • California Institution for Men
  • California Institution for Women
  • California Rehabilitation Center
  • California State Prison – Los Angeles County
  • Chuckawalla Valley State Prison
  • Ironwood State Prison
  • Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

The request period begins eight days prior to the visitation day and closes five days prior to the visitation day. See table below for examples:

Day of VisitRequest Window OpensRequest Window Closes
Friday, December 17Northern: 6 a.m.
Central: 6:30 a.m.
Southern: 7 a.m.
Thursday, December 9
11:59 PM
Sunday, December 12
Saturday, December 18Northern: 6 a.m.
Central: 6:30 a.m.
Southern: 7 a.m.
Friday, December 10
11:59 PM
Monday, December 13
Sunday, December 19Northern: 6 a.m.
Central: 6:30 a.m.
Southern: 7 a.m.
Saturday, December 11
11:59 PM
Tuesday, December 14

Scheduling for in-person visits at California Health Care Facility-Stockton (CHCF) may be made beginning Saturday at 8am through Monday at 8am on the week of the proposed visit by emailing the institution directly at CHCFVideoVisiting@cdcr.ca.gov. In-person visits are held on Fridays and Saturdays at CHCF.

For example, a prospective visitor may email for an in-person visiting reservation starting Sat., Oct. 23 through Mon., Oct. 25 for a visit to take place on Fri. Oct. 29 or Sat. Oct. 30.

Video visits take place on Sunday’s at CHCF, and must be made using the Visitation Scheduling Application (VSA).

When trying to claim your account, you may get the following error:

“Cannot claim account as the names and date you entered matched more than one record.”

You are getting this error message because you have more than one CDCR Visitor ID in CDCR’s system.  CDCR will need to correct this before you can claim your account.

After getting this error message, please call the institution’s visiting staff and let them know that you are receiving an error message and unable to claim an account. Please be prepared to share the following information with visiting staff:

  • The first and last name of visitor
  • Visitor ID (if known)
  • First and last name of inmate you wish to visit.
  • CDCR number of the inmate you would like to visit.

Only CDCR staff can correct this account problem. Please do not contact GTL’s Support Desk. We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

There are no limits to the amount of visits a visitor may schedule; however, incarcerated persons are only allowed one visit per day, either in-person or video. All visiting will be determined based on availability and health and safety considerations

Each incarcerated person will be allowed an in-person visit from up to two minors over the age of two once the institution they wish to visit has reached “Open Phase”. of the Roadmap to Reopening.

All visitors, including minors over the age of two, are subject to the same testing/vaccination requirements as adult visitors based on public health guidance. Minors under the age of two will not be permitted to participate in regular visiting at this time.

As part of the department’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, visitors must:

  • Fully Vaccinated visitors: May present their valid vaccination card indicating they are at least two weeks past the final injection of their vaccination series in lieu of a negative COVID test result.
  • Unvaccinated visitors: MUST provide printed proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no longer than 72 hours prior to the visit. ON-SITE TESTING HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED.
    • Tests performed must be a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. Antibody tests and self-administered home test results will not be accepted.
    • Find a free testing location near you at https://covid19.ca.gov/get-tested/.
  • Receive verbal symptom screening and touchless temperature at the entrance of the prison.
  • Wear a mask at all times during the visit.

Additionally, visitors will be:

  • Provided a procedure (if fully vaccinated) or KN95 (if unvaccinated) mask at the entrance.
  • Provided hand sanitizer during the visit.
  • Properly spaced apart from others, including the person they are visiting, by at least six feet.

Persons scheduled for an in-person visit should plan to arrive at least one hour prior to their scheduled visit time. In order to accommodate every visitor, visits may not be extended or rescheduled.

The duration of an in-person visit is based on which phase the facility within an institution, as outlined in the Roadmap to Reopening. Each incarcerated person will be eligible for one, two-hour in-person visit per day if their institution is in the “Open Phase” of the Roadmap. All visiting will be determined based on availability and health and safety considerations.

No. Personal gloves, hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer wipes are not permitted inside the institution during visiting. Visitors may wear their own mask prior to entering the grounds of the institution; however, CDCR staff will provide all visitors, regardless of vaccination status, with a KN95 mask that they will be required to wear while on institution grounds. Staff will require all visitors to temporarily remove their mask for identification and for inspection purposes during processing. Visitors may discard their masks in institutional trash once they receive a mask from staff, or they may store their cloth masks in lockers if available at the institution.

CDCR cannot make exceptions for visitors in order to protect the health and safety of all those working and living within the facility. Those unable to wear a mask will not be allowed entry.

Outdoor visitation is preferred and will be offered unless precluded by weather, poor air quality, security, or other concerns. COVID-19 protocols, including masks, six feet of physical distancing, and cleaning between visits will be followed regardless of whether the visit takes place indoors or outdoors.

Visitors may briefly embrace their loved one while masked upon greeting and again upon exiting the visiting room. We understand loved ones are eager to reunite, but at this time, physical contact must be limited to avoid spread of COVID-19.

If a visitor does not appear for their scheduled appointment, they may reschedule for another time if visiting appointments are available.

There are several reasons an incarcerated person may be unable to make it to their scheduled visit, including disciplinary issues, a positive COVID test, or a medical quarantine. Individuals on quarantine may not participate in video or in-person visiting. It is the responsibility of the incarcerated person to communicate to their loved ones if they are not able to visit. Please also check the Facility Status Page frequently for the phase status of each institution and institution-specific contact information: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/visitors/visiting-status/.

Walk-in visits are currently being allowed at some institutions. Incarcerated people must be fully vaccinated in order to participate in walk-in visits. Please check the facility visiting status page for institution-specific information and also continue to check the visiting website for updates.

Vending machine items will be available when an institution reaches “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

Until an institution reaches this phase, each visitor and incarcerated person will be offered a bottle of water while visiting. The bottles must be discarded prior to leaving the visiting room.

Yes. All tables, chairs, doorknobs, counters and other high-touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected in between visits.

In-person marriage ceremonies may be scheduled and facilitated at adult institutions in “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening. Each institution has its own protocols for marriages; please contact your institution for details. Ceremonies will be limited to three approved visitors:

  1. The visitor to be married
  2. The ceremony officiant (if not provided by the institution)
  3. One civilian witness

As part of ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, incarcerated guests will not be permitted at this time.

The process for requesting and completing a marriage packet has not changed. The incarcerated person must request the marriage packet from their counselor. Prior wedding waitlists will be honored. For more information, contact the institution in which your loved one is housed.

If an institution is in “Outbreak Phase”, adult applicants may continue to appear before a county clerk to obtain a marriage license via videoconference, rather than in person per Governor’s Executive Order #N-58-20 . While CDCR is in compliance with this order, the authority to issue marriage licenses and to validate marriage ceremonies continues to rest entirely with the individual counties.

All in-person visitors must show proof of a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test or a rapid Point-of-Care COVID-19 test obtained within three days prior to the visit or present a valid vaccination card noting they are at least two weeks past their final injection.

An in-person ceremony may be cancelled at any time due to health and safety reasons. When this status changes, a request may be submitted to the Marriage Coordinator to reschedule.

In order to maintain physical distancing requirements, a visitor may visit only one incarcerated person at a time.

The Photo Ducat Program will resume at institutions in “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening.

During the process of taking photos, the following guidelines must be adhered to:

  • A maximum of four participants per photo will be permitted at one time (Incarcerated person, plus three visitors).
  • Individuals may briefly remove their mask while being photographed.
  • For the duration of being photographed, participants are not required to stand six feet apart.
  • Once photo is taken, all individuals must immediately put their mask back on, keep six feet of physical distance between one another, and adhere to all existing COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

To accommodate the limited visiting schedule, all visits will begin at the scheduled appointment time, with no exceptions. CDCR’s comprehensive guidelines for visiting, including dress code, are available here

Yes, but using the restroom during visiting will not stop the visiting appointment time. The 60-minute timeline will begin and end at the scheduled appointment times.

Due to physical distancing efforts, the Friends Outside/Visiting Center will not be providing childcare. Additionally, Friends Outside/Visiting Center will only be available to store personal items if the visitor does not have their own personal vehicle.

Transportation vehicles have reduced their capacity to at least 75 percent to allow for adequate physical distancing. Masks will be required during the entire transport. Visitors to facilities that require a shuttle should plan for an earlier arrival.

In-person visiting is now available at conservation (fire) camps on Saturdays and Sundays. Camps in “Open Phase” of the Roadmap to Reopening will offer in-person visiting sessions of any length between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to no more than three approved visitors over the age of 2 per incarcerated person.

Scheduling for in-person fire camp visits may be made Monday through Friday on the week of the proposed visit by calling or emailing the camp directly. Weekend video visiting will continue to be offered. For further information on camp visiting, see below.

Please note: Because fire crew member(s) can be activated on short notice, visitors should call and/or email the camp directly for updates before traveling.

CDCR made video visitation available at all institutions starting in late 2020. With the reopening of in-person visiting, many institutions will offer both video and in-person visitation, where feasible. See the Video Visitation webpage for more details on how to schedule a video visit at available institutions.

There will be no limits per month on the number of visits a person can schedule. Visits will be determined based on space capacity.

Due to the fluid situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting may be subject to suspension without advance notice. Visitors should check the Video Visitation webpage, and click on the “Visiting Facility Status” tab prior to their scheduled visit for updates and information.

If you have followed all the steps to make your appointment and still require assistance, please contact the Visiting Sergeant at the institution you would like to visit. You can find the Visiting Sergeant list here.