Note: In September 2014, the FBI announced that its Next Generation Identification system was at full operational capability and  effectively replaced the Bureau’s longstanding fingerprint repository known as the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System described below.

The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or IAFIS, is a national fingerprint and criminal history system that responds to requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help our local, state, and federal partners—and our own investigators—solve and prevent crime and catch criminals and terrorists. IAFIS provides automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent search capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses.

What is included in IAFIS: Not only fingerprints, but corresponding criminal histories; mug shots; scars and tattoo photos; physical characteristics like height, weight, and hair and eye color; and aliases. The system also includes civil fingerprints, mostly of individuals who have served or are serving in the U.S. military or have been or are employed by the federal government. The fingerprints and criminal history information are submitted voluntarily by state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies.

Photograph of IAFIS personnel

How big it is: IAFIS is the largest criminal fingerprint database in the world, housing the fingerprints and criminal histories for more than 70 million subjects in the criminal master file, along with more than 34 million civil prints. Included in our criminal database are fingerprints from thousands of known and suspected terrorists processed by the U.S. or by international law enforcement agencies who work with us.

How fast it works: The average response time for an electronic criminal fingerprint submission is about 27 minutes, while electronic civil submissions are processed within an hour and 12 minutes. IAFIS processed more than 61 million ten-print submissions during Fiscal Year 2010.

When it started: IAFIS was launched on July 28, 1999. Prior to this time, the processing of ten-print fingerprint submissions was largely a manual, labor-intensive process, taking weeks or months to process a single submission. The FBI has been the national repository for fingerprints and related criminal history data since 1924, when more than 800,000 fingerprint records from the National Bureau of Criminal Identification and Leavenworth Penitentiary were consolidated with Bureau files. The first use of computers to search fingerprint files took place in October 1980.

What’s new: While IAFIS has been an effective system, criminal and terrorist threats have evolved over the past decade. Today’s environment demands faster and more advanced identification capabilities. The Next Generation Identification program, or NGI, represents a quantum leap in fingerprint identification that will help us in solving investigations, preventing crime, and apprehending criminals and terrorists.

NGI—which delivers an incremental replacement of IAFIS—provides automated fingerprint and latent search capabilities, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies and other authorized criminal justice partners 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Upon completion, NGI will have the ability to process fingerprint transactions more effectively and accurately.  With the delivery of NGI Increment 4 in the summer of 2014, NGI will effectively replace IAFIS.