The Difference Between Mail and Electronic Submission of Fingerprints for the FBI

Guidelines for International Submission

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plays a crucial role in upholding the law and national security in the United States. One of the FBI's many responsibilities includes collecting and managing biometric data, such as fingerprints, to combat crime and identify suspects. Whether you reside in the United States or are located outside the country and need to submit fingerprints to the FBI, for example, for a criminal background check, there are various methods available. In this article, we will discuss the difference between submitting fingerprints by mail and through electronic submission, and how to go about it if you are outside the United States.

Mail-In Fingerprints for the FBI

Submitting fingerprints by mail is a traditional method still accepted by the FBI. Here are the steps you should follow if you choose to submit your fingerprints by mail:

  • Make an appointment: Contact your local law enforcement agency or an FBI-recognized fingerprint technician to schedule an appointment. Ensure that you bring the required forms and identification.
  • Fingerprinting: During your appointment, competent personnel will take your fingerprints on FD-258 fingerprint cards, which are cards that comply with FBI specifications.
  • Send the card(s): After your fingerprints have been taken, the cards must be sent to the FBI. This can be done through express mail, and you must ensure that you provide the correct address or have the recognized fingerprint technician send them.

Electronic Submission of Fingerprints for the FBI

Electronic submission of fingerprints is a modern and efficient method offered by various FBI-recognized providers. Here are the steps you should follow for electronic submission:

  • Select an FBI-recognized provider: Choose one of the FBI-recognized providers for electronic fingerprint submission. These providers have equipment and software that meet FBI requirements.
  • Make an appointment: Schedule an appointment with your chosen provider to have your fingerprints electronically scanned. Ensure that you bring the necessary identification documents.
  • Submit the data: The provider will electronically send the scanned fingerprints to the FBI. This process is faster and more accurate than the traditional method (but not possible from every country).

Submitting Fingerprints from Outside the United States

If you are located outside the United States and need to submit fingerprints to the FBI, you can utilize the electronic submission method as described above. However, it's important to note that you may need to find a recognized provider available in your current location. Unfortunately, these providers are not available everywhere, meaning that you typically need to have your fingerprints taken with ink on hard copy fingerprint cards and physically mail them to the FBI.

Submitting fingerprints to the FBI is an essential step for various purposes, such as visa applications, background checks, and obtaining certain licenses. It's crucial to choose the right method based on your location and personal circumstances. Both the traditional mail-in method and the modern electronic submission are valid options.

Tip: If you need an FBI Criminal Background check certificate and are, for instance, in the Netherlands, opt for the option of submitting fingerprints by MAIL.

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