Exactly when do you become an Eagle Scout, and when can you wear the patch?

Exactly when does a young man become an Eagle Scout?

You’ll find a number of answers if you ask fellow Scouters. It’s after he passes his board of review, some say. Others are sure it’s when the council receives his Eagle Scout Rank Application (No. 512-728). A few claim it’s official when the Scout has his Eagle Scout court of honor.

The correct answer? It’s complicated.

David, a committee chairman from Nevada, had this on his mind when he emailed me recently.

The question

I have questions for you about becoming an Eagle Scout and wearing the Eagle Scout patch.

In our council, the Scouts are told that once you pass your Eagle board of review, you are an Eagle Scout — literally, at that moment. You don’t have to wait to get confirmation from Scout headquarters. Is that an accurate statement?

Next, if that is accurate, does that mean the Scout can start wearing the Eagle Scout patch immediately? I know from reading your blog that a Scout doesn’t have to have an Eagle ceremony, but does he even have to wait for confirmation from National?

Full disclosure: My son is the SPL and will be turning in his Eagle paperwork next week, with a board of review likely in December. I don’t know when we can schedule his Eagle ceremony.

The answer

First, congrats to you and your son. Earning the Eagle Scout rank is a huge accomplishment, and you both should be proud.

Second, it seems your council is mistaken. An Eagle candidate is not officially an Eagle Scout until his application has been validated by the national office.

Once the application is approved, he is an Eagle Scout, and his Eagle Scout “earn date” is the date he passed his board of review.

BSA expert Mike Lo Vecchio has more:

Topic in the Guide to Advancement explains the method by which an Eagle candidate is validated.

We further state in topic, No. 11, that the Eagle Scout medal or patch (typically known as the presentation kit) “must not be sold or otherwise provided to any unit or to the Scout, nor should the court of honor be scheduled until after the certificate is received at the council service center from the National Advancement Team.”

To oversimplify things:

  • The application begins with the unit leader and committee chairperson.
  • Then it’s sent to the local council where it’s verified and a board of review is scheduled.
  • After the board of review is passed, the application goes back to the local council for the Scout executive’s signature. (This has to be one of the coolest parts of a Scout executive’s job!)
  • The Scout executive signs the application and then enters it into the BSA system to send to the National Advancement Team.
  • The National Advancement Team validates everything. It’s at this point a young man officially becomes and Eagle Scout.
  • The National Distribution Center (Supply Group) generates the credentials and prints, packages and mails the certificate, pocket card and congratulatory letter to the council.
  • Upon receipt of the Eagle credentials, local council personnel alert unit leadership as soon as possible.

Read more about this process here.

A final thought

The BSA’s Eagle Scout database uses the Scout’s board of review date — not his application validation date — as the date he earned Eagle. That’s true of every Eagle Scout since 1912.

The application validation process can vary from Eagle Scout to Eagle Scout, so the board of review date is most appropriate in the long term.

This fact could be what sparked the rumor that a young man becomes an Eagle on his board of review date. While that date is important in the long term, in the short term a young man has to wait a bit longer before he’s officially eligible to wear that red, white and blue patch and medal or schedule his court of honor.

To paraphrase a commenter from below: When a young man passes his Eagle Scout board of review, he isn’t officially an Eagle Scout until his application is approved. Once it’s approved, he’s an Eagle Scout from the day he passed.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.