How Do I Retrieve My Own Background Check?

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keeps a record for each U.S. citizen of past criminal activity. The colloquial phrase for this is called a "rap sheet," but its official name is an FBI Identification Record. Potential employers often will check a person's identification record to determine if there is criminal activity in a person's history which would prevent the person from performing duties in child care, education and other fields. To receive a copy of your own criminal background, you must submit an application and accompanying documentation to the FBI.

Print out a copy of the one-page application form from the FBI website. The URL can be found in the Resources section below.

Fill out the application in ink. One application can be used for a single person, married couple or family. If more than one person plans to use the application, each name must be printed at the top, and all members must sign at the bottom. Use only one address for all applicants.

Record all applicant's fingerprints on an FBI fingerprint card, FD-258 (see Resources). Fingerprints must be rolled, and all 10 fingerprints are required. Have your fingerprints done by a certified fingerprint technician, which can be arranged through your local sheriff's office, if possible.

Go to your local grocer to get a money order to be included as payment for the application. One money order may be used for families applying together. The cost is $18 per person. Personal checks are not accepted.

Mail the application, fingerprint cards and payment to:

FBI CJIS Division -- Record Request

1000 Custer Hollow Road

Clarksburg, WV 26306



About the Author

Bailey Richert is a 2010 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a dual bachelor's degree in environmental engineering and hydrogeology, as well as a master's degree in systems engineering. After several years in the environmental consulting industry, she is now attending MIT for graduate school. An accomplished traveler, she has visited 23 countries and published her first book about international travel in 2014.

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  • Fingerprint crop image by Andrew Brown from