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International Travel

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While Abroad

Criminal Record Checks

U.S. citizens may be asked to present a “certificate of good conduct” or “lack of a criminal record” for a variety of reasons for use abroad including adoption, school attendance, employment, etc.  U.S. law enforcement authorities may not be familiar with such a procedure since it is not commonly requested in the United States.  There are a variety of options available to U.S. citizens seeking to obtain proof of their lack of a criminal record.

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Local Police Check

Go to your local police department where you reside or last resided in the United States, request that the police conduct a local or state criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record.  Local police departments may require your personal appearance in order to conduct the search.  You should determine whether the country you intend to use the records check requires that it be authenticated.  For information on that process please see our authentications page.

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FBI Records Check

The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) centralizes criminal justice information and provides accurate and timely information and services to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, the private sector, academia, and other government agencies.  The FBI offers two methods for requesting your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist.  The subject of an identification record may obtain a copy of that record by submitting a written request to the CJIS Division.  The request must be accompanied by satisfactory proof of identity (consisting of name, date and place of birth, and a set of rolled-inked fingerprint impressions) and a certified check or money order for the current processing fee.  The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record.  Requests should be directed to the FBI CJIS Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Rd., Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306.  If there is no criminal record, a report reflecting this fact is provided.  See FBI.gov information on Identification Record Request and Guide for Obtaining Your FBI Identification RecordSubmitting an Identification Record Request to the FBI.

The subject of an identification record may also submit a request through an FBI-approved Channeler, which is a private business that has contracted with the FBI to receive fingerprint submissions and relevant data, collect the associated fee(s), electronically forward the fingerprint submissions with the necessary information to the FBI CJIS Division , and receive the electronic record check results for dissemination to the individual.  See FBI.gov for the list of FBI-approved channelers.

An individual requiring an apostille or authenticated copy of his/her FBI Identification Record, or any non U.S. person who wishes to request his/her FBI Identification Record must submit a request directly to the FBI CJIS Division.  The U.S. Department of State Authentications Office can then place an apostille document for use in a country party to the Hague Apostille Convention.  For countries not party to the Hague Apostille Convention, the U.S. Department of State Authentication Office will place a certification over the FBI seal.

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Getting Your Fingerprints Taken

U.S. citizens should be able to obtain fingerprint cards from their local police departments or at FBI.gov.  U.S. embassies and consulates do not generally provide this service.  Fingerprint Identification:  An Overview.

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Authentication of Police or FBI Certificates of Lack of a Criminal Record

The FBI’s CJIS Division will authenticate U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73 fingerprint search results for international requests by placing the FBI seal and signature of a Division official on the results, if requested at the time of submission. Documents prepared in this matter may then be sent to the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office by the requestor to be authenticated if necessary. Please be sure to indicate the country in which the document is to be used. The FBI procedure became effective 1/25/2010 and will apply to only documents finalized after that date.  Requests to authenticate previously processed results will not be accepted. See the FBI FAQ on this website.

Documents obtained from your local police will require additional authentication after you obtain the local police seal. Contact your state Secretary of State’s office or other official designated in your state to authenticate state issued documents. See our general guidance on authentication of documents for use abroad.


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