Certified FBI background check

How to get an American background check from Canada?

If you are in Canada and require a FBI criminal record background check the process is not as straight forward as conducting a background check through the RCMP. There are several steps you will need to perform in order to obtain your certified FBI background check.

  1. Contact a RCMP accredited fingerprinting agency like the National Pardon Centre.
  2. Arrange to have your fingerprints taken on FD-258 official FBI fingerprinting cards.
  3. Visit the FBI website and follow the steps to submit your fingerprints directly for a background check and summary of your criminal record history.

Canada: RCMP and the FBI

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have maintained a working relationship with the FBI for over 100 years. Both operate as law enforcement agencies at the Federal level, meaning its jurisdiction is nationwide. While both agencies operate out of the other nations countries they are only able to assist with law enforcement, rather than actively enforce the law. This means that while the RCMP operating in the United States can be of service to the FBI, RCMP officers would not have the authority to make arrests. Similarly FBI officers operating in Canadian jurisdictions can assist RCMP officers but they have no authority to uphold Canadian law.

FBI Criminal Record Check

To conduct and FBI criminal record applicants will need to submit ink fingerprints to the FBI. Fingerprints must be taken on standard FBI FD-258 form. Although Canadian RCMP C 216 C fingerprinting forms follow the same standard fingerprinting format FD-258 cards must be used.

The standard fingerprinting form layout is all ten fingers rolled at the top of the form followed by all 5 fingers from each hand pressed flat underneath.

Applicants for an FBI criminal background check will also need to submit the applicant information form along with their fingerprints. They will then need to submit their payment. When everything is complete all items must be mailed to the following address:

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

When all required document have been received the background check will be conducted. Once complete it will be sent back to you via first class mail.

FBI Background Check Canada

Unfortunately you cannot conduct an electronic FBI criminal background check from Canada. The systems do not exist between the countries for this to occur.

While Canada maintains its own AFIS (automated fingerprinting identification system) for background checks done via the RCMP there is currently no agreement between the United States and Canada. Therefore applicants need to follow the directions listed above to have their FBI criminal record check processed through the mail.

FBI Clearance

In most cases people conducting FBI fingerprinting background checks from Canada are doing so for work or immigration purposes. This means that most applicants are not expecting to receive a copy of a criminal record since no criminal record exists. Therefore the result of your background check will be a form indicating that there is no criminal history information associated with your name. However, if you have ever been arrested in the United States an FBI criminal record check will return what the American government calls your “rap sheet.” Simply put this is a list of all criminal convictions associated with your name.


Comments (4)
Mohamed yahya / May 10, 2021

How long is the processes?

Michael Ashby / June 1, 2021

Usually 6 – 12 months.

Kind regards,


Taimur / March 11, 2022

an FBI clearance takes 6-12 months? i need to get it for my wife applying for her canada PR. anyway to expedite it?

Michael Ashby / February 7, 2023

Hi Aimur,

I’ve never heard of it taking that long.

Kind regards,



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