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How to get an FBI Background Check and Apostille or Authenticate it?

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

An FBI Background Check is a summary of an individual’s criminal history or activity. Information used in the report is obtained through federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Why do you need an FBI Background Check?

Common reasons that people request their FBI Background Check include: Individuals typically make this request for personal review, to challenge the information on record, to satisfy a requirement for adopting a child out of state or in foreign countries, to satisfy a requirement for court-related matters or to seal, expunge, or remove inaccurate criminal history information, or to satisfy a requirement to live, work, study, or travel in a foreign country (i.e., police certificate, letter of good conduct, Identity History Summary check, etc.).

Only you can request a copy of the report of your criminal history from the FBI. It is not permitted to obtain information about another person.

How to Get an FBI Background Check?

The FBI offers three options for requesting your Identity History Summary or proof that one does not exist:

1. Apply directly to the FBI using an electronic system

2. Apply directly to the FBI by sending a hard copy through the U.S. Postal Service

3. Using an FBI approved Channeler

No matter which route you choose, you will need to submit fingerprints and relevant information such as name, any alias, date of birth, current address, and more.

Option 1: Electronically Submit Your Request Directly to the FBI

Step 2: Follow the steps under the “Obtaining Your Identity History Summary” section. If you submit a request electronically directly to the FBI, you may visit a participating U.S. Post Office location to submit your fingerprints electronically as part of your request. You may go to any of the 191 participating U.S. Post Office locations nationwide upon completion of your request. Additional fees may apply.

If you choose to use a U.S. Post Office location, you must complete your application and payment electronically prior to visiting a U.S. Post Office location to submit your fingerprints electronically as part of your request.

If you choose not to use a U.S. Post Office location to submit your fingerprints electronically, then you may still mail your completed fingerprint card, along with your confirmation email, to the address listed on your confirmation email.

Processing Time:

Current processing time for Identity History Summary requests submitted electronically is estimated to be three to five business days upon receipt of the fingerprint card. Allow additional time for mail delivery if this option was selected during the request process.

Option 2: Submit Your Request Directly to the FBI via the Mail

Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information Form.

  • If the request is for a couple, family, etc., each person must complete and sign a form.

  • Include a complete mailing address. Please provide your telephone number and e-mail address, if available.

  • Your results will be provided on standard white paper and returned to you by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Self-addressed envelopes will not be accepted. This includes pre-paid Priority Mail, FedEx account numbers, United Parcel Service, etc., foreign postage coupons, and requests to forward correspondence to the Department of State for the apostille process.

Step 2: Obtain a Set of Your Fingerprints

  • Your fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes. The FBI will accept FD-258 fingerprint cards on standard white paper stock.

  • You must provide a current fingerprint card. Previously processed cards or copies will not be accepted.

  • Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card.

  • You must include rolled impressions of all 10 fingerprints and impressions of all 10 fingerprints taken at the same time (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions).

  • If possible, have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. This service may be available at a law enforcement agency. The FBI recommends that red or purple ink not be used for fingerprinting.

  • Fingerprints taken with ink or via live scan are acceptable. If your fingerprints are taken via a live scan device, a hard copy must be generated so the fingerprint card can be mailed to the FBI.

  • To ensure the most legible prints possible, refer to the Recording Legible Fingerprints page. If fingerprints are not legible, the fingerprint card will be rejected. This could cause delays in processing and could also result in additional fees.

  • The name on your response letter will match the name indicated on the fingerprint card when your application, payment, and fingerprint card are submitted via the mail.

  • If the last four digits of your Social Security number are needed on your response letter, then please ensure the full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number are on the fingerprint card when submitting your request.

  • For more information, refer to the Recording Friction Ridges module.

Step 3: Submit Payment

  • Option 1: Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form. Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.

  • Option 2: Obtain a money order or certified check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure you sign where required.

  • Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted and sending any of these will delay processing of your request.

  • Payment must be for the exact amount.

  • If the request is for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person.

  • The FBI will provide one sealed response for each request received. You may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response. Note: If you need additional sealed responses mailed to the same address or separate address, you must submit an additional request with another payment of $18 for each sealed response requested. Also, if you need additional copies of your response that do not need to be in a sealed envelope, you may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response.

  • If you are unable to pay the $18 fee, your request for a waiver of the fee must include a claim and proof of indigence, such as a notarized affidavit of indigence.

  • The FBI will not accept additional payment to expedite your request.

Step 4: Review

Step 5: Mail the Required Items Listed Above

Mail the required items listed above—signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 U.S. dollars per person—to the following address:

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request 1000 Custer Hollow Road Clarksburg, WV 26306

What Happens Next

If FBI finds no Identity History Summary on file, you will receive a response by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service indicating that you have no prior arrest data on file at the FBI. If you do have an Identity History Summary on file, you will receive your Identity History Summary or “rap sheet” by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.

Processing Time:

Current processing time for Identity History Summary requests submitted via the mail is 2-4 weeks. Allow additional time for mail delivery.

Option 3: Submit Your Request to an FBI-Approved Channeler

An FBI-approved Channeler is a private business that has contracted with the FBI to submit your request on your behalf. FBI-approved Channelers receive the fingerprint submission and relevant data, collect the associated fee(s), electronically forward the fingerprint submission with the necessary information to the FBI for a national Identity History Summary check, and receive the electronic summary check result for dissemination to the individual. An FBI-approved Channeler simply helps expedite the delivery of Identity History Summary information on behalf of the FBI.

The process for making a request through an FBI-approved Channeler is consistent with FBI submission procedures. Please note that an FBI-approved Channeler may have different methods or processes for submissions. Also, additional fees may apply above the FBI fee for requests submitted through an FBI-approved Channeler. Contact each Channeler for costs, processing times, and availability in your area.

An individual requesting an Identity History Summary or proof that a summary does not exist through FBI-approved Channelers should contact the Channeler directly for complete information and instructions.

Note: Please review the information below regarding the use of FBI-approved Channelers:

  • An FBI-approved Channeler may only process requests for a U.S. person (an individual who is a citizen of the U.S. or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.). A lawful permanent resident is any person not a citizen of the U.S. who is residing in the U.S. under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence as an immigrant (also known “Permanent Resident Alien,” “Resident Alien Permit Holder,” and “Green Card Holder”).

  • An FBI-approved Channeler cannot process a request for employment and/or licensing purposes within the United States. This type of request should be coordinated with the appropriate State Identification Bureau (or state police) for the correct procedures.

You may also find the above information at

How to apostille FBI Background Check?

Your FBI Background Check can be issued in a digital copy (PDF format) or a hard copy. They are both valid and can be further apostilled/authenticated. Once your FBI Background Check is used in the United States, you’re all set.

If FBI Background Check were asked outside of the United States, it needs to be Apostilled (for destination country which is a member of the Hague Convention) or Authenticated (for destination country which is NOT a member of the Hague Convention).

Simply place the order based on your situation and mail us the original copy (or email us the digital copy) you received from either the FBI or a channeler. We will contact the right people and department at the U.S. Department of State to apostille your FBI Background Check, or authenticate it at the US Department of State and then get it legalized at the embassy of your destination country.

Email address:

Mailing Address:

American Notary Service Center

7512 Diplomat Drive, Suite 101,

Manassas, VA 20109


American Notary Service Center Inc. provides fair, fast, confidential, and professional document notarization and certification services for our clients. We also provide various assistance services to small businesses led by socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Our service helps small businesses obtain federal government contracts, gain a foothold in the market, and boost their sales. For more information, please visit our website at, and contact us by calling 202-599-0777 or by email at

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