Preparing for the Move to Portugal

How to Submit Your Fingerprints to the FBI

Why would you want to submit your fingerprints to the FBI? There are a couple of reasons I can think of:

  • Check your Identity History Summary
  • Correct your Identity History Summary
  • Apply to a foreign government for a visa

The FBI website clearly states that your Identity History Summary, also known as your criminal history or your “rap sheet,” is not to be used for employment or licensing.

Applying for an Identity History Summary

Digital fingerprint/photo on Pixabay

The first step to take before you can submit your fingerprints to the FBI is to go to the website to fill out an application and pay the fee. Currently (Feb. 2022), the fee is $18 to electronically submit your fingerprints. You may also submit a request by mail.

To submit your fingerprints by mail, you must first complete the Applicant Information Form. After that, you need to have your fingerprints placed on a Standard Fingerprint Form. Send that form, with payment, to the address listed on the website.

We submitted our applications electronically. It was a very simple process. The payment was also easy to do. We chose to have both electronic results and a hard copy sent to us once the fingerprints were processed. Currently, it takes 3-5 days for the results to be sent from the FBI.

Keep the PIN that is generated when you apply. You can use that number to check on your submission and get the electronic results.

Submit Your Fingerprints

We chose the nearest participating U.S. Post Office to take our fingerprints. Currently (Feb. 2022), the fee that the post office charges is $50. You can find a list of participating USPS locations here.

The closest location for us was a 2 1/2-hour drive away. Or you may use another participating location.

At the post office, we approached the employee, Bob, and stated we were there to get fingerprints taken. No appointment was necessary at the Burlington, VT post office, but check with your specific post office.

Bob brought us over to the fingerprint-taking device and explained how to place our fingers on the device. First, he scanned the four left fingers, then the four right fingers, then both thumbs together. My daughter went first, and her fingerprints scanned beautifully.

When it was my turn, Bob tried twice to get a clear scan of my fingerprints. However, my prints were faded. He applied one drop of “Corn Huskers Lotion” to one of my fingers and instructed me to rub it into all of my fingertips. The next time he tried to scan my fingerprints, they scanned beautifully.

Corn Huskers Lotion is a “medication used as a moisturizer to treat or prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin and minor skin irritations (such as diaper rash, skin burns from radiation therapy). Emollients are substances that soften and moisturize the skin and decrease itching and flaking” ( The lotion does a wonderful job of raising fingerprints to make them easier to read.

That was a very simple, painless, and clean process that took less than 15 minutes for both of us to do. We then went with Bob back over to the register to pay the USPS fee.

Obtain Your Results

By the time we got home, our results were available to be viewed electronically. We chose to also have our results sent to us in the mail to be used when we apply for a temporary residence visa for Portugal. I expect that we will have the results within a week.

When we apply for our temporary residence visa, we have to apply through the VFS office in New York City. This office requires the FBI Identity History Summary to have an apostille. What is an apostille, you ask? It is “a certificate that authenticates the signature of a public official on a document for use in another country. An Apostille certifies:

  • the authenticity of the signature of the public official who signed the document,
  • the capacity in which that public official acted, and
  • when appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears, e.g. a notary public seal.

If it is a state-issued document, you would send the document with an application form and a fee to the appropriate state’s secretary of state office. Since our Identity History Summaries are federally issued, we need to send them to the U.S. Department of State Office of Authentication in Sterling, VA. The current (Feb. 2022) fee is $20 per document.

Correcting Your Identity History Summary

If you find errors on your Identity History Summary, you can challenge those errors. There are directions on the FBI website under “Challenge of an Identity History Summary.”


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