Expedited FBI Background Checks (6 Ways to Speed Up Processing Time)

Jayson Baxter
August 5, 2022
A background check report with a person's picture on it is being examined with a magnifying glass by a member of the FBI while a woman to his right is looking at a clock, wondering if there's any way to speed up the process of getting the report back.

Expedited FBI background checks are helpful if someone’s in a hurry to receive their federal background check results and there’s 6 ways to speed up the processing time.

But it’s important to understand how long each can take and the process of each method in order to avoid any delays, and get the quickest results. So instead of waiting weeks to months for the results, take action today to get it done in 24 hours or less.

How Long Do FBI Background Checks Take? (Expedited vs Non-Expedited)

An individual choosing to obtain a FBI background check without expediting it can expect to wait a few weeks to up to six months due to the process of filling out the required forms, going through a live scan or ink fingerprinting session, and mailing the appropriate papers can take about a month.1

On the other hand, requesters can use expedited methods like channelers and electronic options, which can take only a few days or even about 24 hours. These expedited FBI background screenings are covered in more detail later in this article.

6 Ways to Speed Up & Expedite Processing Time for FBI Background Checks

There are six ways for a person to receive an expedited FBI background check. The following services may speed up the processing time because they utilize electronic and other quick methods. Standard processes are typically slower since they stick with snail mail. Many approved vendors even offer in-house fingerprinting services.

Some of these methods are better and/or faster than others. Regardless, patrons can pick the one that’s best for their needs and situation.

1. Submit Fingerprints to the FBI Electronically Through the U.S. Post Office

Someone electronically submitting their fingerprints to the FBI through the U.S. post office rather than by mail is faster because they can receive a response from the FBI in 24 hours or less. Some USPS locations have painfully slow or extended wait times, so there are other services that can provide speedier turnaround times.

Plus, visitors don’t have to make an appointment before visiting their nearest participating post office. But before they commence their visit, they need to register with USPS online.

During this process, people need to have their identity history check application number or EDO (Electronic Department Order) number on hand.

After finishing the registration process, people can go to a participating USPS to digitally capture their fingerprints. Once they arrive, they have to pay a $50.00 fee during their session.2

Unfortunately, this service is only available at certain USPS locations, so someone can contact their local office to see if they offer fingerprinting services. Better yet, they can check this list of participating USPS offices offered by the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation.

2. Use FBI-Approved Channelers to Quicken The Process

This is another fast option an individual can utilize since like through the USPS office, they can get a quick FBI background check within a 24-hour timeframe. (Some services like Federal Fingerprinting allow a person to receive a report in a few hours if they order an email or PDF version of it.)3 The price is also similar, around $40.00 to $50.00. Once someone gets their fingerprints, they mail the required cards, application, and payment to the channeler company.

It’s vital for people to contact a channeler prior to doing business with them because each channeler varies in charge of services, processing times, and procedures. As a matter of fact, some channelers only receive fingerprints patrons have taken at other fingerprinting businesses. Also, many require customers to reside in the U.S. to use their services.4

Furthermore, users have to ensure that the company is an FBI-approved channeler – which is a company that contracts with the FBI to submit someone’s fingerprints and receive their criminal history information.

Curious individuals can learn more about them by reading the FBI Channeler FAQ.

Frequently asked questions of the channelers who are able to assist the public in getting their fingerprints done and sending information to the FBI in a quick and timely fashion.

Another common question individuals ask is if they have to go with a channeler approved by the FBI.

While they’re free to patronize a non-FBI-approved channeler, there is some risk with that choice. Many non-FBI-approved channelers have unscrupulous practices such as turning in false background check information, which can get customers in major trouble with law enforcement.

If someone doesn’t want to take that risk, they can consult the list of FBI-approved channelers and contact them with any questions or comments.

3. Use Channelers That Offer In-House Fingerprinting

As mentioned earlier, some channeler companies only receive fingerprints from those who have taken them elsewhere. This proves stressful for someone who has to stop by one place and then go to another just to complete a single expedited FBI background check. (This would be more hectic for a person who depends on a bus to get around town.)

Fortunately, customers can save themselves the hassle of traveling to two different places by visiting a channeler that provides in-house fingerprinting as well as fingerprinting processing services.

Alive Scan–a company based in San Diego–is an example of an all-in-one fingerprinting service shop. In addition to being an FBI-approved channeler, it offers three types of fingerprinting: live scan, ink fingerprinting, and even mobile fingerprinting.5

Companies like Alive Scan also leave little to no room for mistakes since their employees are responsible for the whole fingerprinting process.

4. Pay Attention to Channelers’ Turnaround Times

Many channelers brag about providing an expedited criminal background check or other types of checks. They claim they can get the job done within a few hours or days. But, people can’t rely on claims alone since turnaround times don’t always go as planned.

For instance, if a website says something like “We can process your fingerprints usually within 24 hours*.” a prospective customer should pay attention to words like “usually” and the fine print typically denoted with an asterisk.

The fine print may state, “*Processing time may take longer if done on a weekend or holiday.” That way, the individual wouldn’t face a disappointing surprise if their service is slower than expected.

5. Check Stipulations of Service if It’s for Employment or Licensing

Anyone needing an FBI background check for employment, licensing, or other reasons shouldn’t run to their nearest channeler just yet. They have to conduct their research to check a channeler’s stipulations behind their service(s).

For one, channelers aren’t allowed to add an apostille to fingerprinting results. If someone wants to get that done, they need to receive an FBI background check or visit the Travel State website for instructions.

The Travel State website showing that Apostilles are responsible for notarizing and taking fingerprints of certain documents issued by federal agencies.

Also, a person shouldn’t use a channeler to process fingerprints to fulfill a job or licensing requirement. They need to go to their local state police or other law enforcement agency for those purposes.

All in all, customers can only use channelers for personal reasons, and the results can only be sent to a U.S. physical address.6

6. Avoid Inaccuracies & Be Transparent

Abiding by the saying “Honesty is the best policy.” is likely to increase someone’s chances of receiving an expedited FBI background check. Even if an individual feels uncomfortable about certain aspects of themselves, it’s crucial that they’re open about their motives for getting fingerprinted.

After all, leaving out information or flat-out lying can delay processing times.

Errors can delay processing times, too. Therefore, the subject has to double-check their papers before submitting them. Another way they can avoid errors is by getting plenty of rest and avoiding procrastination.

It can help people to learn the fastest way to get an FBI background check. Once they know the ins and outs of obtaining an expedited FBI background check, individuals can avoid the pitfalls and enjoy the benefits of the fingerprinting methods they choose.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do FBI Background Checks Work?

Before explaining how FBI background checks work, it’s essential to bring up the reasons for them first. Many people are required to get an FBI background check to work in professions like healthcare, security, K-12 education, and other occupations involving great trust and responsibility.

What Information Does an FBI Background Check Scrutinize?

FBI background checks show someone’s criminal history, usually going back the last seven years. Additionally, patrons can only request their own FBI criminal history reports. The FBI uses fingerprint matches from local, state, and national law enforcement agencies to gather information about a person’s possible criminal offenses.

An individual’s criminal history isn’t the only thing an FBI background check examines. It also includes a person’s credit history, particularly if they’re applying for a financial job or want to establish guardianship over a ward. While possessing a low credit score doesn’t automatically bar someone from a job, having a bankruptcy record does.

If someone’s aiming to get a job in national security, they’re required to obtain a security clearance. This includes a person’s credit history, criminal history, and interviews with relatives, friends, and other people they know. Participants in these interviews speak face-to-face with FBI agents.

And lastly, there’s fingerprinting, the most important part of FBI background checks. They’re mandatory for those who work in federal positions as well as childcare-related occupations. There are other reasons and ways for people to obtain fingerprints when required.

How Do I Request an FBI Criminal History Check?

Some people may request an FBI criminal history check out of curiosity or to challenge a previous report that had errors. (It also may be required for those who possess arrest records.)

They can request it electronically by visiting the Department of Justice Order website. Users have to enter their email addresses to begin the process.

If they prefer mailing in a form, they need to download an application and ensure that they include a telephone and email.

Once that’s finished, an individual has to place their fingerprints on an FD-1164 form. Cards need to be up to date and include the subject’s name and birthdate. They can consult the Recording Legible Fingerprints page to make sure they’re legible.

The cost for this is $18.00, which they can pay via check or credit card. (Anyone unable to pay the fee can waive it by sending a notarized letter and evidence of inability to pay.) It’s recommended that people read the Identity History Summary Request Checklist before mailing the required information to this address:

Federal Bureau Investigation, CJIS Div.
1000 Custer Hw Rd
Clarksburg WV 26306

Only individuals with arrest records will receive a rap sheet via First Class Mail. Those who have no arrest records will get a response saying so.

As tempting or convenient as it may seem, people aren’t allowed to capture their own fingerprints on their personal fingerprinting cards. It’s required for them to either obtain them through an authorized channeler or via the FBI. Attempting to do this independently may cause delays or rejections.

USCIS Background Check

If a person is filing for US naturalization, they need to undergo a background investigation via the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). It requires an FBI fingerprinting and a name check:

  • Fingerprinting: Individuals can obtain their fingerprints via any local Application Support Center (ASC). (The fingerprints are valid for a year and three months.) After said ASC gathers fingerprinting and other relevant information from the subject, USCIS sends it to the FBI to run a background check. The results may show a criminal record, lack of a criminal record, or a rejection. Anyone unable to attend a fingerprinting session due to being hospitalized or ill can request an at-home appointment.
  • Fingerprinting Waiver: If an applicant can’t submit their fingerprints due to a medical condition or other related reasons, they can be exempt from the fingerprinting requirement. However, they need to present a local clearance letter from a police station demonstrating that they’re an upstanding individual.
  • Name Check: The NNCP (National Name Check Program) cross-references the UNI (Universal Index), an FBI database containing details about applicants, criminals, and more. Once they find the information they need, FBI personnel send the results to USCIS. This must be completed before the individual attends their naturalization interview. The possible answers from this check are Positive Response (PR) or No Record (NR). Any results from the name check, like the fingerprints, are valid for a year and three months.

How Does One Request a Copy of Their FBI Background Check?

Interested parties can obtain a copy of their background check by sending a written request to the FBI’s CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services) division. In addition to a letter, they have to submit a copy of a valid government ID and an $18.00 payment in the form of a cashier’s check, money order, or credit card. (Requesters can only retrieve their own record, not another person’s.)

What Are The Turnaround Times for the FBI to Review Fingerprints?

There’s nothing more agonizing than waiting for fingerprinting results, especially if someone’s getting an FBI background check from abroad. The wait time for fingerprints varies, but it can take about three to five business days.


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