Fingerprinting in Canada

Fingerprinting in Canada is the first step in both a pardon and a waiver application and must be completed by all persons making these applications. I am often asked by clients applying for a pardon why it is necessary, seeing as the police took the fingerprints at the time of arrest. There is a difference, of course, between criminal fingerprinting and non-criminal fingerprinting. The former is used by law enforcement and the latter is used by people like our clients who are applying for pardons and waivers. Non-criminal fingerprinting is also widely used for conducting routine background checks, most often for employment purposes or matters of security clearance.

Fingerprinting Services

This is part of a fingerprint. Not the whole fingerprint, just a part of it.

In Canada, whether you need fingerprints for a pardon, a waiver or a background check your fingerprints must be certified by the RCMP Civil Fingerprinting Division in Ottawa. You can do this with traditional ink and paper fingerprints or with electronic digitized fingerprinting. In both cases the fingerprints must be submitted to the appropriate division with a $25 processing payment.

The RCMP began to phase out ink fingerprinting several years ago as it began introducing the new AFIS systems (automated fingerprinting identification system) into the private sector. Currently a set of ink fingerprints will take several months to be reviewed and returned with a criminal record. On the other hand an electronic set of fingerprints can be returned in as little as 72 hours, although this is normally only for submissions which do not return a criminal record attached.

Recently as a result of the Conservatives tough on crime agenda the RCMP Civil Fingerprinting Division has become backlogged. Anyone submitting fingerprints found to have a criminal record attached should not expect to receive the results for at least 2 months. Here at the National Pardon Centre we are seeing response times up to 10 months in some extreme cases. This is set back that we have not seen since opening our doors for business almost ten years ago.

There is little doubt that background checks and security clearances are becoming more and more common for everything from job applications to volunteering to coach little league. There is also little doubt that this will change in the near future.

If you need a comprehensive background check or you are applying for a pardon or a waiver your first step in fingerprinting. If you have further questions on this please contact us the National Pardon Centre and we would be happy to answer your questions.

About Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby is Co-Founder and Communications Director for the National Pardon Centre. Get in touch with Michael by sending an email to or calling extension 227.Michael Ashby est le co-fondateur et le directeur des communications au Centre du Pardon national. Contactez Michael par email au ou par téléphone au poste 227.


  • Diana says:

    I would to know how much it will cost me to get both a waiver and a pardon. I applied with express pardon and lost my funds when they went under. I was never given forward information as to who I could contact. I would like to know as well the time frame it will take.

    Also how much is the mobile printing cost.

    Thank you,

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