how to apostille fbi background check

There may come a time in your life when you need to obtain an Apostille FBI Background Check.  If so, it is helpful to know where to turn and what steps to take to get what you need.

Often, employment positions in foreign countries will require an Apostille FBI Background Check.  Furthermore, positions of high trust and responsibility require applicants to submit to an FBI criminal background check.

Such jobs include those involving children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations, as well as jobs in law enforcement, healthcare, education, and finance.

It should be noted that this is considered one of the most comprehensive background checks available.

Apostille FBI Background Check: Quick Overview

An FBI Background Check will show all data reported to that agency by state and local law enforcement agencies, including every time that person has been arrested or fingerprinted for any reason.  In some cases, the report will also include any information regarding the subject’s federal employment, naturalization, and military service.  The background check also includes a complete summary of your entire criminal record, sometimes referred to as your “rap sheet”.

But where does an apostille come into play?

An Apostille authenticates the seal and signatures on the FBI Background Check, or on any public document, such as a court order, birth certificate, marriage certificate, or death certificate.  When the Apostille is attached to the original document, the document will be authenticated for acceptance in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.

In the United States, all 50 states and the US Department of State’s Office of Authentication can issue an Apostille.

If you need an apostille for a document issued by a state agency, such as a birth certificate, you may obtain the apostille from the state’s secretary of state.

But if you need an apostille for a document issued by a U.S. Federal Agency, such as an FBI background check, you must obtain the apostille from the U.S. Department of State.

(How To) Apostille FBI Background Check Process

You have three options to obtain your FBI Background Check so that you can then obtain an apostille’s authentication.

Each of these options has multiple steps that must be taken. Below is a review of each option and the steps to take for each option.

However, keep in mind that option three is typically the recommended choice for not just ease but speed as well.

FBI Background Check Apostille: Option 1

Option One: You may submit your request electronically for the FBI directly.

If you choose to electronically submit your request to the FBI, take the following steps:

  1. Visit
  2. Follow steps outlined on the website. You will find that once you’ve submitted your application and payment electronically, you may complete the fingerprints requirement one of two ways:
    1. (i.)  You may utilize a U.S Post Offices to complete your fingerprints via electronic means as part of that request but only some postal offices will be able to help with this request. Note: you must complete the steps and paid your fees using their official website prior to going to the post office to electronically submit your fingerprints; or
    2. (ii)  You can then place your completed fingerprint card in the mail along with the email confirmation receipt from the electronic application. Once the card and email confirmation is received, the FBI will begin the process on their end. To be clear, if you choose to mail in your fingerprint card you will of course need to obtain a set of your fingerprints. To do so you may follow the steps below under Option Two, step 2.

FBI Background Check Apostille: Option 2

Option Two: You may use a postal mail service to complete your submission.

If you choose to mail in your request to the FBI, take the following steps:

  1. Visit the FBI services website.
  2. Complete the Applicant Information Form.
  3. Be sure not to miss any of the required fields as this could delay your application further.
  4. Have your fingerprints taken. If possible it’s best to have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprint technician, which may be available at a law enforcement agency. The FBI will only accept fingerprints using FD-1164, the form most often used by local authorities. Further, the FBI recommends that neither red, nor purple ink is used. Fingerprints may also be taken using a live scanning device, however, a physical copy should be printed from the live scan and included in the mail packet sent.
  5. Submit payment. Cash, personal, or business checks are not accepted. You may pay either pay directly on their website, or include a money order addressed out to the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $18. If your request is for multiple people, the fee of $18 must be paid for each person.
  6. Make sure to do a final check so that nothing is missing (which would delay the process even further) – the signed, completed application form, the completed fingerprint card, and of course the fee.

The address so send everything can also be found on their website.

After you’ve completed these steps, the FBI will send you a response via 1st Class U.S. Postal Service. If nothing about you exists on file in the federal database, the FBI will send you a response stating your clean record.

However, if you do have anything in their database attached to your name, the FBI will send you your “Summary” (rap sheet).

You may also contact the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division at 304-625-5590 to request a packet of information which will contain the forms and steps needed for the FBI to process the background check.

FBI Background Check Apostille: Option 3

Option 3: Use a Third-party Service Known as a Channeler

An approved Channeler is company that has a pre-verified relationship with the  FBI and is able to handle your request legally.

The benefit of using a Channeler is the ability to expedite your FBI background check, getting your results back much faster than the methods above (more explained towards the bottom of this guide).

If you choose this option, you may submit the required information directly to the Channeler:

  • Fingerprint submissions
  • Relevant data
  • Required fees

The Channeler will electronically send in the request and required information on your behalf and will also receive the Summary from the FBI on your behalf.

An approved FBI Channeler helps to expedite the process of obtaining your national record (background check), which is a huge benefit when you have a tight deadline to obtain the report.  Further, an approved Channeler can take away much of the stress and confusion many people feel attempting to obtain their background check on their own.

The FBI provides a list of approved Channelers you may choose to help you expedite obtaining your background check here.

How long does an FBI background check take using this method? Typically, less than a week as opposed to 3 months or more when using an apostille FBI background check and completing the process yourself.

Final Step: Obtain the Apostille for Your FBI Background Check

Now that you’ve chosen one of the three options for obtaining your FBI Background Check, you will need to obtain an apostille for the document.

Because this background check is issued by the FBI – a federal agency – the apostille will need to be obtained from the United States Department of State.

The FBI Background Check will be then be authenticated through a process that ensures the document will be accepted by foreign nations that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of State offered three options for requesting your needed apostille:

  1. By mail
  2. By appointment
  3. By drop off/pick up service

Due to public health measures in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Department of State has suspended in-person counter services and are only offering mail-in service at this time.  Further, the State Department website warns they are experiencing extremely high call volume currently and that you should expect delays processing all authentication requests.

At this time, the following steps should be taken to request your FBI Background Check Apostille:

  1. Complete a Request for Authentication Service DS-4191 Form and specify the documents country of use in Section 4.
  2. Assemble with the DS-4191 Form, your FBI Background Check/History Summary.
  3. Add to these documents the fee of $20. You may use money order, personal or business check.  The check must be pre-printed with your name and address with no changes thereto and must be numbered above #100.  No temporary checks or “fill-in” checks will be accepted.  The check or money order should be made payable to United States Department of State and should be dated within the last 6 months prior to submission.
  4. Make sure to include a pre-paid envelope so they can return your packet to you. Do not use Federal Express.  It is recommended that you use trackable mail via the United States Postal Service.
  5. Mail the above documents to the authentications office on the state department website above.

FBI Background Check Apostille Expedite Instructions

If you want to expedite your FBI Background Check Apostille, it is recommended that you contract the services of an Approved FBI Channeler.

As explained above, an approved channeler is a private business that has contracted with the FBI and is able to handle your request to the FBI on your behalf and who will electronically request and receive your information.

These businesses are experts at quickly and correctly handling all aspects of the FBI Background Check process and the apostille request process, finishing the project as fast and stress-free as possible.

**Considering the current delays at the U.S. Department of State due to the Covid-19 pandemic, using an Approved FBI Channeler for all phases of obtaining the Apostille FBI Background Check just makes sense if you have a short deadline.**

U.S. State Department Apostille FBI Background Check: Common Questions

The following are some of the most common questions received when going through the Apostille FBI background check process for the first time.

1. FBI fingerprinting: is it required for an Apostille FBI Background Check?

Answer:  Yes.

The FBI Background Check requires a current fingerprint card with all ten fingerprints taken at the same time.  The fingerprint background check helps ensure accuracy and prevent errors caused by the use of false identification.

2. Is an FBI Background Check the Same as a Level 2 Background Check?

Answer:  Not exactly.

They are similar, but, a level 2 Background Check includes a statewide criminal history check as well as a national criminal history from the FBI.  The FBI check includes all federal criminal history and any reported statewide criminal history.

3. FBI Clearance: What Is It?

Answer:  Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI created an initiative known by the name of “State and local Law Enforcement Executives and Elected Officials Security Clearance”. The purpose of this initiative is to educate officials on classified info regarding their local jurisdictions, as long as they have the correct levels of clearance.

Most information that needs to be given to local and state officials can be done at the unclassified level. For classified information, most can be given to those with Secret Clearances. Law enforcement officials who need to know classified information at the Secret Level must undergo a security clearance.

The investigation into someone’s background as well as records checks that are currently needed for Top Secret and normal Secret security clearances are required by an executive order of the president and cannot be waived by the FBI.

A “Secret” clearance is usually granted for local police officers (as well as state-level officers) who are not typically a member of FBI Task Forces and do not visit facilities ran by the FBI. Once a candidate successfully obtains a Secret Clearance, the final step is signing a typical non-disclosure agreement.

A “Top Secret” clearance is given to individuals who have been deemed to need national-level information for security reasons. If an officer is working on projects directly with the FBI or other agencies involved in national security, this clearance may be given.

4. How to Fill Out a Fingerprint Card?

The simplest and most reliable way to obtain your fingerprints for the fingerprint card is to use a fingerprint technician, who may be found at your local law enforcement agency.

Besides the issue of properly fingerprinting, you must also properly fill out the rest of the card.

The information required on the fingerprint card includes:

  • Your name
  • All aliases
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Social security number
  • Country of Citizenship
  • Residential address
  • Date
  • Signature
  • Signature of person who fingerprinted you
  • Reason for being fingerprinted
  • Sex/Gender
  • Race
  • Eye color
  • Hair Color

Take Away

At first glance, the process of obtaining an Apostille FBI Background Check can seem intimidating and confusing.  But, when taken step-by-step, the process is not unduly burdensome. And the great news is that you can access help if needed.

The above information explains how you can walk through the process of obtaining the Apostille FBI Background Check yourself as well as how you can get help and even expedite the process.

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