Background Checks & Fingerprints

U.S. citizens may be asked to present a “certificate of good conduct” or “lack of a criminal record” for a variety of reasons for use abroad or in the United States, including adoption, school attendance, employment, etc. There are a variety of options available to U.S. citizens seeking to obtain proof of their lack of a criminal record (either at home or overseas) and have their fingerprints taken.

The Embassy cannot provide criminal records information for individuals who have visited or resided in the United States or for U.S. citizens who have visited or resided in the United Kingdom.

Please note: The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the entities or individuals whose names appear on the following lists. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department or the U.S. government. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information on the list is provided directly by the local service providers; the Department is not in a position to vouch for such information.

Local Police Check: Contact the local police department where you reside or last resided in the United States to request that the police conduct a criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record. Local police departments may require your personal appearance in order to conduct the search. Your local police department can phrase this in whatever way it deems appropriate. The document should then be authenticated for use abroad following our guidance on authentication or legalization of documents.

FBI Records Check: The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) centralizes criminal justice information and provides accurate and timely information and services to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, the private sector, academia, and other government agencies. The subject of an identification record may obtain a copy thereof by submitting a written request to the CJIS. The request must be accompanied by satisfactory proof of identity (consisting of name, date and place of birth, and a set of roll-inked fingerprint impressions) and a certified check or money order for the processing fee. The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record.

Criminal record checks in the United Kingdom are conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the UK Home Office. Your prospective employer will need to contact the DBS to obtain these records.

Levels of DBS Check:
A standard DBS check may be required for people working with children or vulnerable adults or working in an area with access to them. An enhanced DBS check may be needed for people whose job requires them to regularly care for, supervise, or be in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults. The organization or employer who asked you to apply for the DBS will tell you which level of check is required.

How to Get a DBS Check 

  • The employer gets an application form from DBS or an umbrella body (a registered body that gives access to DBS checks).
  • The employer gives the applicant the form to fill in and return to them along with documents proving their identity.
  • The employer sends the completed application form to DBS or their umbrella body.
  • DBS sends a certificate to the applicant. The employer has to ask the applicant to see the certificate.
  • If the applicant has subscribed to the DBS update service, the employer can check their certificate online.
  • Guidance on how to complete the application form can be found here.

DBS Contact Details

DBS Customer Services
PO Box 3961
Royal Wootton Bassett

U.S. citizens should be able to obtain fingerprint cards from their local police departments.

U.S. embassies and consulates do not generally provide this service. (Note: The U.S. Embassy in London does not provide this service. You may contact the National Fingerprint Centre at New Scotland Yard for assistance.  

Please visit the website of the Metropolitan Police Service for further information and assistance.

Documents required for use abroad may require additional authentication after you obtain the local police seal or FBI certificate.

Please see for guidance on authentication or legalization of documents.