How to get FBI Clearance Certificate – Visa Immigration

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta - Updated on  10 May, 19

FBI police clearance certificate
FBI police clearance certificate

FBI clearance certificate can be applied using 3 different options. FBI Police clearance certificate is same as FBI clearance Certificate. We list them according to cost and time required.
FBI calls it Identity History Summary Checks.

All 10 fingerprints are required for running a background check and receiving FBI Clearance Certificate.

You can apply FBI clearance for Canada permanent residency, USA Green Card or Australia PR using 3 options:

  1. Apply online on FBI Website, pay fees online, mail fingerprints – Cheapest, very good options. Get Certificate in 3-5 days.
  2. Mail FBI application and fees by post – Slowest method takes up-to 14 to 16 weeks.
  3. FBI approved third party agent – 3-4 days Fast processing but most expensive.

#1 Apply Online on FBI Website

The FBI Police clearance certificate processing time with online application is 3 to 5 Days.

#A Create FBI Clearance request online FBI Police clearance certificate online request.
Open the link in Mozilla or Internet ExplorerChrome and Safari do not work.

I am not sure why but, the FBI website link throws invalid_request error in Chrome browser and website does NOT open.

#B Enter email to start application
Follow the steps under the section Obtaining Your Identity History Summary->How to submit a request. To start your application, enter your email and click submit button:

FBI clearance - Enter email to start online application
FBI clearance – Enter email to start online application


#C Email from FBI
Once you submit, you will receive an email from FBI with your log in password and unique FBI page link. Click this unique link and fill the FBI application form.

FBI clearance unique link
FBI clearance unique link

Enter your PIN (from email) and click Log in. ‘Accept’ the terms and conditions.


#D Fill Online Application

FBI clearance - Enter personal Information
FBI clearance – Enter personal Information
FBI clearance - Enter mailing address
FBI clearance – Enter mailing address
FBI clearance - Enter preferences
FBI clearance – Enter preferences

You have option to receive a response by First-Class Mail via the USPS too.FBI Police clearance fees is $18.
Pay FBI fees online by credit card. No extra fees for postal mail response.

At this time, the STATUS on FBI website will show as ‘INSUFFICIENT’ for your case as FBI is waiting for your fingerprints.


Print FD-258 form on a plain A4 size white paper.

You can also buy FD 258 card from Amazon prime (pack of 3) or pack of 25 FD 258 cards. The fingerprint card needs to be printed on a hard white paper. I recommend buying it from Amazon than printing it at home.

This form needs to be filled with BLACK ink including fingerprints.You can pretty much take the fingerprints yourself if you are outside USA like in India or any other country.

I strongly recommend to get the fingerprints from your local Police station if you are currently in USA.

Fedex and other local postal mail vendors in USA also provide fingerprinting services for a price starting from $25+ per person. I tried for me and my wife as it seemed pretty easy using this official FBI fingerprint guide. But the ink was just messing up the fine finger lines and merging them. If the fingerprints are not good, FBI will simply reject your application.

Local police station in USA charges anywhere between $5 to $10 for each person’s fingerprints and they are EXPERTS. They provide the form FD-258 too. So, you do not need to print it yourself.
Most of them will do it for free again, if the first prints are rejected by FBI.

This is a sample FD-258 form that was fingerprinted using Plano, TX Police station’s fingerprinting service:

Sample FD-258 form for FBI fingerprints
Sample FD-258 form for FBI fingerprints


#F Print and Mail
Print the order confirmation email that you would have received from FBI.Send the email confirmation and form FD-258 (with your fingerprints) to FBI CJIS division by postal mail. You can mail them to FBI from outside USA too.

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306


#G FBI clearance certificate Tracking
Once the mail is delivered to FBI, they usually take about 48 hours to update the tracking status on their website and inform you by email.


#H FBI clearance certificate Issue
FBI will then scan your fingerprints to complete your criminal record background check.

You can download the FBI clearance PDF file once available.
The whole process of FBI background check is automated and you can expect to receive the clearance certificate within minutes of their acknowledgment email (for your fingerprints).

If you opted for postal mail FBI clearance certificate too, then it will arrive by USPS mail between 6-7 days. The paper hard copy and one available for download are exactly same.

#2 FBI Clearance by Postal mail

FBI police clearance request by postal mail processing time is 14 to 16 weeks.

  1. Download the FBI police verification application form from here. Print and fill up the form.
  2. Get a Cashier’s check or Money Order for $18 per person as fees, payable to “Treasury of the United States”.
    You can pay by credit card too. Print this payment form and fill your credit card info to send with your application.
  3. Get your fingerprints. Follow the same process as listed above for FINGERPRINTS.
  4. Send application, payment and fingerprints to FBI office via traceable postal mail. Address is mentioned above.
  5. Note: This is the SLOWEST method of getting police verification from FBI.
  6. The ONLY difference between this method and the first option above is that you make the payment online in first method. The first one is lot faster than this one.

#3 FBI Approved Third Party Agents

FBI Police clearance processing time with third party provider is 3-4 days. This is the fastest and most expensive option.

  1. Choose one third party vendors from FBI approved list.
  2. They take your fingerprints electronically and transmit them to FBI electronically too. This makes the process the fastest among the 3 options. They are available outside USA too in a country like India.
    This is probably the fastest method to get FBI clearance certificate for Canada immigration or Australia PR if you are located outside USA.
  3. The fees varies with each vendor and normally starts from $200 per person. They collect the total fees from you, including the FBI’s $18 fees per person.
  4. FBI officially says that this third party service is ONLY available for USA citizens and Green card holders.
    But, I know from reliable sources who are neither US citizens nor green holder and have used it to get FBI clearance within 3-4 days.

Validity of FBI certificate?

There is no expiry date mentioned on FBI certificate. Check Validity of FBI certificate for different countries.

FBI Police Verification at Home Address

There is no physical police verification done by FBI at your home address.

FBI uses your fingerprints to find your criminal records. If you have ever been arrested or fingerprinted by FBI, they will have your record.

You would have been ten printed (meaning 10 fingerprints given) while applying for USA visa in your own country, at US embassy’s OFC center.

I am not sure if FBI has access to the fingerprints that you gave at US embassy for Visa or if they verify that database. They have not disclosed it on their website.

Multiple applications in same postal mail?

You can send multiple cashier check, multiple fingerprint cards and multiple confirmation email copies in single postal mail. This is useful if you are applying FBI certificates for family.

Re-Use Fingerprint Card

The FBI requires a current fingerprint card to process your Identity History Summary. You cannot use any old or already used FD-258 cards.

FBI does not return your fingerprint cards.

SSN Last 4 Digits on FBI report

You can choose to have your SSN last 4 digits printed on FBI report.

You should write full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number on the fingerprint card to have last 4 printed on FBI clearance.

Address Change

You should sign the Address Change Request Form and fax it to (304) 625-9792, or scan the form and e-mail it to to change your address.

If you submitted your request electronically (Option 1 above), you may change your address either by using the secure link and personal identification number received during the request process or by e-mail.

Return Envelope

You are not required to send any ‘return shipping’ envelope. FBI takes care of return shipping and mailing.

   83 Useful Questions & Answers from comments

  1. SUZIE
    SUZIE 2 Apr, 19 at 6:18 pm

    If I have never been to the US, can I order an FBI police check to verify my identity relative to applying for a US visa at consular office abroad ? thanks in advance

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 2 Apr, 19 at 8:44 pm

      If you have never been to US, why would FBI would even have your record?

      Why would you even apply for FBI report?
      I am not sure what’s the purpose here.

      • SUZIE
        SUZIE 3 Apr, 19 at 3:53 pm

        To verify identity in the event of mistaken identity.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 3 Apr, 19 at 6:41 pm

          I think you can apply for FBI report.

  2. Mandee
    Mandee 13 Mar, 19 at 4:39 pm

    Hey Anil, hoping you can answer a couple questions for me (and thanks in advance):

    1. What is the fastest way to have your fingerprints processed? How long does it take on average for the FBI to receive them? I’m a US citizen, currently in the US, if that helps.

    2. Are the FBI clearance certificates the same, regardless of how you request them (digitally vs. snail mail)? I want to do it digitally, as it’s obviously much faster, and I can’t use a channeler because Slovak authorities don’t accept the format that channelers provide. I’m guessing the clearance certificate is the same, since it’s directly requested to/from the FBI. Any ideas?

    3. My goal is to have the clearance certificate process done (including fingerprints) and in my hands within 1 month. Does that sound feasible to you?

    Thank you so much

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 13 Mar, 19 at 8:33 pm

      I have given timelines for each option above. Please read it carefully and you will get answers to all your questions.

  3. Sunny Anand
    Sunny Anand 12 Mar, 19 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Anil, Thanks for your post. I got my FBI PCC done on Jan 14. I was in USA at that time. I travelled to India later and re-eneterd USA on Feb 16. Do I need to get a new FBI PCC because of the visit?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 12 Mar, 19 at 1:21 pm

      You do not need the new FBI PCC. The current one is valid for 12 months.

      • Sunny Anand
        Sunny Anand 12 Mar, 19 at 1:22 pm

        Thanks Anil.

  4. Mayda O'Herlihy
    Mayda O'Herlihy 14 Jan, 19 at 9:47 am

    I sent all the correct documents by post and calculated I should’ve had a reply by Nov 2018…It’s now Jan 2019 and I’ve heard nothing. Is there a phone number or email I can contact to follow up on my clearance? Had I known I could do it electronically I would’ve opted for that!!!!

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 14 Jan, 19 at 10:05 am

      The normal processing time is 14 to 16 weeks for normal postal mail FBI request. There should be a contact method on FBI website. I am not aware of it as never encountered anyone who’s request was delayed.

  5. Jatin
    Jatin 1 Dec, 18 at 10:22 am

    I checked with local Sheriff station and they said you can collect the fd258 card from UPS. They don’t do it on print out. I went in to UPS too and found out they don’t sell those cards loose. We need to either get fingerprinting from them. Is printing fd258 on A4 will work? Also, do I need to get FBI certificate for Canada for each member including 9 month baby.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 1 Dec, 18 at 11:24 am

      FD258 on A4 white paper works only if you are taking fingerprints yourself. I don’t recommend doing it yourself as there is a technique to it on how to print them correctly. FBI would reject your fingerprints if they are not taken a certain way. So, its better to get it done by someone else who knows about it.

      If FD258 form is not available easily, go to a police station that provides fingerprinting service (paid). They will give it to you for free.
      It is possible that your city’s police don’t do it but some other town’s police station might have this service. Check on Google.

      FBI certificate is needed for each adult. Child is not required to have FBI certificate.

      • Jatin
        Jatin 1 Dec, 18 at 5:47 pm

        Thanks for the reply. Can you tell me the minimum age as well for FBI certificate.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 1 Dec, 18 at 5:56 pm

          The age limit is defined by the country or youthe purpose for which you need FBI certificate for.
          For Canada, each adult (18+) needs FBI certificate.

  6. Kris
    Kris 26 Nov, 18 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Anil,
    This is Kris. Thank you for providing detailed explanation on the steps. I followed the above instructions (Option 1) and I was able to download the soft copy of my clearance certificate from FBI site. However, though I had requested for a hardcopy, I did not receive it yet. If it takes longer is there a way to follow up? The softcopy was available on 15th of Nov. Is it okay if I submit the printed copy that I downloaded from FBI certificate for Canada Immigration ? or do they need the Original itself ? Could you please clarify ?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 26 Nov, 18 at 8:30 pm

      The FBI PDF file is valid for submission to any immigration authority. In your case, you can use it for Canada.
      No need to wait for physical copy.

      Physical should have arrived by now in mail though. I am guessing the delay may be due to holiday season.

      • Kris
        Kris 26 Nov, 18 at 9:16 pm

        Okay great. Thank you.

  7. vikas
    vikas 23 Nov, 18 at 7:16 pm

    HI Anil
    my parents need FBI CLEARANCE certificate for Canada PR .They didnt stay more than three months in USA but their total stay in four years exceeds six months and for finger print they are confused about where to do finger print.In finger print form there is a column(signature of fingerprint taken in presence).
    They are living in India,Gujarat.Is it ok to do in presence of local police dept and on normal A4 white paper with blank ink,as u said we can do finger print by ourselves. Does FBI consider self taken fingerprint ??

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 23 Nov, 18 at 11:43 pm

      FBI do consider self taken prints but I strongly recommended to use third party service in India.
      There is a specific way that you need to take fingerprints else FBI will reject your application.

      Third party agents and channellers are available in India and you can use their service.

  8. Naveen
    Naveen 30 Oct, 18 at 11:32 pm

    Hi Anil, I have a question. I had an arrest in 2014 which was later dismissed the case was also expunged in florida. I just received the ITA for applying to canada. Should I be worried as far as the identity history check from fbi is concerned? If yes, is there anything I can do about it? Please let me know

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 31 Oct, 18 at 5:28 am

      It depends on what shows up on your FBI report. You can’t do anything about it if it shows up on your history report.

  9. Rajan
    Rajan 22 Oct, 18 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Anil,

    I want to go with “Option 1. Electronically Submit Request Directly to FBI”. Do you know any known any Third party providers in Kerala that do this service?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 22 Oct, 18 at 3:08 pm

      I am not aware of any providers. You can search for them on Google and you will find many.

  10. J C
    J C 15 Oct, 18 at 5:43 am

    Hi there,

    I am also asked by the Dept of Home Affairs in Australia to provide FBI Police clearance certificate as well as the state police checks for my PR application. Since I used to live in the States (Maryland and New York), do I also have to get the police check from each state? Or will the FBI Police clearance certificate cover all the state police checks and suffice this requirement?


    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 15 Oct, 18 at 7:35 am

      Have you been contacted by Australian Immigration case office (CO) and asked to provide state police checks explicitly?
      I have not heard of state police checks being required earlier. Only FBI police clearance is sufficient if they have NOT asked for state police check explicitly.

      • JC Jan
        JC Jan 16 Oct, 18 at 4:51 am

        Yes, Anil, the notice from them says that “Police clearance certificates must have 12 months validity for United States FBI and State (Maryland etc) police clearance”. So I am not sure if FBI clearance will be sufficient in this case, although it does cover the national clearance?

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 16 Oct, 18 at 8:09 am

          ok..if they have specifically mentioned the state, then you need to get clearance from local state police department too.
          Looks like they have started asking for state clearance recently as I have not heard of this requirement from other people who have already migrated to Australia from US.

          • JC Jan
            JC Jan 25 Oct, 18 at 11:27 pm

            Hi Anil,

            I just got the FBI clearance via email. Just wondering if I also need to get it (also other police checks from my home country and Australia Federal Police) notarized before uploading them to the Immi system? Or police checks are fine as they are. Cheers

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 26 Oct, 18 at 6:25 am

              You have to get police checks from all countries where you have stayed for more than 12 months in last 10 years. For USA, FBI check is same as Police check.

            • JC Jan
              JC Jan 26 Oct, 18 at 7:03 am

              I know. I got them all already . Just checking if I should also get them “certified” (notarized)? I thought police checks are Ok without notarization?

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 26 Oct, 18 at 7:18 am

              ohh..i missed your ‘notarized’ part of the question.
              Notarization is not needed for police certificates. Scan them in color for uploading.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 16 Oct, 18 at 1:58 pm

          Just need a clarification from you. Did you submit FBI clearance with your application submission or not?
          if you had already submitted FBI clearance earlier, then they are explicitly asking for state police check now?

          • JC Jan
            JC Jan 16 Oct, 18 at 5:03 pm

            No I didn’t submit the FBI clearance along with my application submission though I did submit the Australian national police check and the one from my home country. However they are over 12 months now since the wait time takes so long that I have to resubmit the updated police checks. Then I got asked to submit them plus the new requested FBI and state police checks as I told you.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 16 Oct, 18 at 4:41 pm

          I did some more research and found that yes, you do need state police clearance too from USA.

          US citizens and permanent residents:
          ‘FBI Identity History Summary’ issued by the FBI or an approved channeler and a State Police Clearance for each State in which you have lived for at least 3 months for the last 12 months.

          US temporary residents and visitors:
          ‘FBI Identity History Summary’ issued by the FBI and if you resided in the US for at least three months in the past year, a State Police Clearance for each State in which you have lived for at least 3 months during the last 12 months.

          So, if you have lived in MARYLAND for more than 3 months in last 12 months, then yes, you need to submit it too.

          • JC Jan
            JC Jan 16 Oct, 18 at 4:59 pm

            Hi Anil, I only lived in the states from 2008-2014 as an international student and work visa holder.. So for the past 4 years, I haven’t been back to the US since I moved to Australia. If it says for the past 12 months, it is definitely not in my case. Could you advise?

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 16 Oct, 18 at 5:30 pm

              Well, that is correct. In your case, it is not applicable. But, If you do not want to delay your case any further, you should probably apply for both FBI and US State police check to save time.

          • Harish
            Harish 19 Dec, 18 at 3:40 pm

            Hi Anil,

            Firstly i would like to thank you for your efforts which is making life easier for me. I blindly followed you for my Indian PCC and FBI PCC. It would be helpful if you can put the process to apply for State PCC as well.

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 19 Dec, 18 at 4:03 pm

              Which state are you in? Each one has different process. So, it is difficult to cover all 50 states!
              I know about Texas at this time as one of the person recently did for Texas:

            • Harish
              Harish 19 Dec, 18 at 4:17 pm

              Hi Anil, I want it for California, Michigan and Illinois states. I resided in those 3 states for more than 3 months

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 19 Dec, 18 at 4:33 pm

              Then, you should search local state police websites for their specific process.

          • Vik
            Vik 11 Apr, 19 at 1:37 am

            Hi Anil,
            I need information regarding USA PCC. I stayed in USA from Feb 2010 to Dec 2011 in Illinios state. Do i need to get only FBI Identity History Summary or state Police clearence also?

            Also, I was in UK from Feb 2008 to Jun 2009. As it is April 2019, Do i need to do police verification from UK. As i understand, we need police verification if we have stayed more than 12 months in last 10 years. But this time is before 10 years. Please suggest.
            Thanks for your help!

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 11 Apr, 19 at 8:52 am

              Not sure if you have read the answer that you have replied too or not. It has clear answer to your questions.
              I suggest to read it again.

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