An FBI Identification Record—often referred to as a criminal history record or a “rap sheet”—is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. The process of responding to an Identification Record request is generally known as a criminal background check.
If the fingerprints are related to an arrest, the Identification Record includes name of the agency that submitted the fingerprints to the FBI, the date of the arrest, the arrest charge, and the disposition of the arrest, if known to the FBI. All arrest data included in an Identification Record is obtained from fingerprint submissions, disposition reports, and other information submitted by agencies having criminal justice responsibilities.
The U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73 establishes rules and regulations for the subject of an FBI Identification Record to obtain a copy of his or her own record for review. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division processes these requests.
Who May Request a Copy of a Record (or Proof That a Record Does Not Exist)
Only you can request a copy of your own Identification Record.
Individuals typically make this request for personal review, to challenge the information on record, to satisfy a requirement for adopting a child in the U.S. or internationally, or to satisfy a requirement to live, work, or travel in a foreign country (i.e., police certificate, letter of good conduct, criminal historybackground, etc.).
Background Checks for Employment or Licensing
If you are requesting a background check for employment or licensing within the U.S., you may be required by state statute or federal law to submit your request through your state identification bureau, the requesting federal agency, or another authorized channeling agency. You should contact the agency requiring the background check or the appropriate state identification bureau (or state police) for the correct procedures to follow for obtaining an FBI fingerprint background check for employment or licensing purposes.
How to Request a Copy of Your Record
The FBI offers two methods for requesting your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist.
Option 1: Submit your request directly to the FBI.
Option 2: Submit to an FBI-approved Channeler, which is a private business that has contracted with the FBI receive the fingerprint submission and relevant data, collect the associated fee(s), electronically forward the fingerprint submission with the necessary information to the FBI CJIS Division for a nationalcriminal history record check, and receive the electronic record check result for dissemination to the individual. Contact each Channeler for processing times.
Note: An FBI-approved Channeler cannot authenticate (apostille) fingerprint search results. A request for your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist must be submitted directly to the FBI if an authentication (apostille) is needed.
What Happens Next
If we find no record, you will receive a “no record” response. If you do have a criminal history record on file, you will receive your Identification Record or “rap sheet.”
For More Information
See the responses to some frequently asked questions.