How to Obtain a State and National Background Check

By Anna Green

State and national background checks contain information on an individual's criminal record, property transactions, history of civil lawsuits, marriages and divorces. Background checks are used for a number of purposes, including employment, child adoption, property rentals or when applying for professional licenses. Depending on your individual requirements, you may need a certified copy of your background check which has been validated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the state police department.

Get fingerprinted. Both state and national background checks require that the subject be fingerprinted through an authorized law enforcement agency. Local police departments or FBI branches can facilitate fingerprinting for a small fee.

Contact your state police department. For the state portion of your background check, you will need to submit a written request to your state law enforcement bureau. You will need to fill out a state-specific form, which will ask you for your full name, other names you have used, your date of birth, places of residence for the past 7-10 years and Social Security number.

Make a written request to the FBI. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, you can request a personal background check from the FBI by writing a letter that contains your basic demographic information. If you require a certified copy of your background report for school, employment or adoption, you will need to fill out additional forms, which are available from local FBI branch offices.

Use a private background check service. If you do not require official copies of your state and national background check records, private investigators and online background check services can search your background history using a single form. Since you are not required to be fingerprinted for these searches, they may not be comprehensive nor valid for legal purposes.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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