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Criminal History Summary Checks

Also known as: fbi background check, criminal records, criminal background check, background checks, criminal record check, fbi criminal background check, federal background check, criminal record, criminal background checks

Current processing time for a Criminal History Summary: 22 calendar days. Please allow additional time for mail delivery. 

A Criminal History Summary—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.

If the fingerprints are related to an arrest, the Criminal History Summary 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 a Criminal History Summary 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 a Criminal History Summary 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 Criminal History Summary (or Proof That a Criminal History Summary Does Not Exist)

Only you can request a copy of your own Criminal History Summary.

Individuals typically make this request for personal review, to challenge the information on record, to satisfy a requirement for adopting a child in the United States 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 History Summary check, 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 Criminal History Summary or proof that one 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 to 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 national Criminal History Summary check, and receive the electronic summary check result for dissemination to the individual. Contact each Channeler for processing times.

Note: If an authentication (apostille) is needed, please contact the Channeler to determine if this service is provided.

What Happens Next

If we find no Criminal History Summary on file, you will receive a response indicating that you have no prior arrest data on file at the FBI. If you do have a Criminal History Summary on file, you will receive your Criminal History Summary or “rap sheet.”

For More Information

See the responses to some frequently asked questions.