CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK (+APOSTILLE)
American citizens are required to submit a nation-wide criminal background check issued by the FBI. The background check must also be certified with an apostille. The application process can take up to three months, so all candidates are advised to plan ahead. Even if you are uncertain of your plans, the background check is inexpensive, so best to keep your options open and apply now. We also recommend that you request multiple copies (at least 2, and up to 4) just to be safe.
Candidates who plan to begin work within the next three months and have not yet initiated an application should contact us directly at email@example.com
Here’s how it works:
1) REQUEST A FEDERAL BACKGROUND CHECK
Your criminal background check must be issued directly by the FBI. Background checks issued by independent organizations (even FBI-approved channelers) will not be valid.
Requests for criminal background checks can only be submitted by mail. The cost of the service is $18 per request.
Payment may be submitted by cashier’s check, money order, or credit card. Personal checks and cash are not accepted. If you pay by cashier’s check or money order, make it payable to the Treasury of the United States. If you pay by credit card, you will need to submit the FBI Credit Card Form with all information filled out. This fee includes return postage. For faster shipment, applicants may include a prepaid return envelope or FEDEX account number with the original application.
A complete set of rolled fingerprints is required as proof of the applicant’s identity. The FBI will not accept incomplete or smudged fingerprints so, unless you have experience with the process, it’s best to have this done by an expert. The service costs roughly $10, takes just a few minutes, and can performed on a walk-in basis at any police station or law enforcement agency in the United States. Be sure to bring a valid ID. Fingerprints may be printed on the downloadable Fingerprint Form. You can print the form on regular paper. If you go to a law enforcement agency to be fingerprinted, they may prefer to use a fingerprint card on standard card stock, which they will provide. Both methods are acceptable.
Applicants who reside outside of the United States should consult the FBI Website for information on how to obtain prints abroad.
Eventually, you will need your FBI Criminal Background Check certified with an apostille issued by the Department of State. The Department of State will refuse to issue an apostille unless your background check is stamped with an official FBI seal. You will not have to pay extra to obtain the seal, but you must request it at the time of your application. You can use the FBI Seal Request Letter included at the bottom of this section.
All forms and documents should be sent to the address below:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
SCU MOD D2
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg , West Virginia 26306
The FBI cites a turnaround time of up to 3 months on Criminal Background Check requests. Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite this phase of the process. However, in our experience, it usually takes about half that time.
REQUIRED FORMS (PDF)
2) REQUEST AN APOSTILLE
After you receive your FBI Criminal Background Check, you must request an apostille. An apostille is basically an internally accepted method of notarization.
OPTION A (2-4 weeks + mail)
Request an apostille via the Department of State. We hear that it’s possible to obtain an apostille on a walk-in basis but, unless you live near Washington, DC, mail will be the most convenient option. The fee for this service is $8 per document, postage excluded. Be sure to include a self addressed stamped envelope or express courier account number when you submit the document.
Mail the request form to:
U.S. Department of State
518 23rd Street, NW SA-1
Washington, DC 20520
OPTION B (1-3 business days + mail)
For expedited service, you may request an apostille via an independent service. You should expect to pay $50 to $80 for this service. Here are a few services we’ve used in the past:
Good luck, and feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns!