How Long Does it Take for Fingerprinting to Come Back

How Long Does it Take for Fingerprinting to Come Back

Fingerprinting is a crucial process in various industries, from employment screening to security clearances and legal proceedings. While the process itself is relatively straightforward, the turnaround time for receiving fingerprint results can vary significantly. Understanding the factors that influence fingerprint processing time is essential for managing expectations and ensuring a smooth experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of the fingerprinting process, common causes of delays, and provide tips to help you obtain your fingerprint results as efficiently as possible.

Understanding the Fingerprinting Process

Before delving into the turnaround time, it’s important to understand the fingerprinting process itself. Here’s a brief overview:

Fingerprint Capture

The first step involves capturing your fingerprints using specialized equipment, such as a digital fingerprint scanner or an ink-based system. This process ensures high-quality fingerprint images for analysis.

Fingerprint Submission

After capturing your fingerprints, the fingerprint data is submitted to the appropriate agency or clearinghouse for processing and background checks.

Fingerprint Analysis

Trained fingerprint analysts or automated systems compare your fingerprints against various databases, including criminal records, employment histories, and watchlists, to identify any potential matches or issues.

Result Generation

Once the analysis is complete, the agency or clearinghouse generates a report detailing the 

findings of the fingerprint background check, which is then returned to the requesting party.

In our comprehensive guide on fingerprinting turnaround times, learn about the various types of fingerprinting methods available.

Factors Affecting Fingerprint Processing Time

Several factors can influence how long it takes for fingerprint results to come back. Understanding these factors can help manage expectations and plan accordingly.

Type of Background Check

The type of background check being conducted can significantly impact the processing time. For example, employment-related fingerprint checks may take less time than those required for certain security clearances or legal proceedings.

Agency or Clearinghouse Workload

The workload and staffing levels of the agency or clearinghouse processing your fingerprints can affect the turnaround time. During peak periods or with limited resources, processing times may be longer.

Quality of Fingerprint Submission

Poor-quality fingerprint submissions or incomplete information can lead to delays, as the agency may need to request additional information or a resubmission of fingerprints.

Presence of Criminal Records or Matches

If your fingerprints match existing criminal records or other databases, additional investigation or verification may be required, extending the processing time.

Delve into our detailed exploration of fingerprinting procedures to understand the significance of a fingerprint card in the process.

Common Causes of Fingerprint Result Delays

While some delays are unavoidable, understanding common causes can help you prepare and take appropriate action if necessary.

Incomplete or Inaccurate Information

Providing incomplete or inaccurate personal information during the fingerprinting process can lead to delays while the agency or clearinghouse verifies the information.

Unreadable or Low-Quality Fingerprints

If your fingerprints are of poor quality or unreadable, the agency may request a resubmission, causing a delay in processing.

Backlog or High Volume of Submissions

During periods of high demand or backlog, agencies may experience longer processing times due to the sheer volume of fingerprint submissions they receive.

Potential Matches or Criminal Records

As mentioned earlier, if your fingerprints match existing criminal records or other databases, additional investigation or verification may be required, leading to longer processing times.

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Tips and Strategies for Faster Fingerprint Results

While some factors are out of your control, there are several steps you can take to help ensure a smoother and faster fingerprinting process:

Provide Accurate and Complete Information

Double-check all personal information, such as your name, date of birth, and address, to avoid any discrepancies that could cause delays.

Follow Proper Fingerprint Capture Techniques

Ensure that your fingerprints are captured correctly by following the instructions provided by the fingerprinting technician or agency.

Use Authorized Fingerprinting Services

Consider using authorized fingerprinting services or agencies recommended by the requesting organization to ensure proper submission and reduce the risk of errors or delays.

Expedite Processing (If Possible)

Some agencies or clearinghouses may offer expedited processing services for an additional fee. While not always available or necessary, this option can be useful in time-sensitive situations.

Understanding Typical Turnaround Times

While processing times can vary, here are some general guidelines for typical turnaround times:

Employment-Related Fingerprint Checks

For standard employment-related fingerprint checks, results may be available within 24-72 hours, although some cases may take up to a week or longer.

Security Clearances and Sensitive Positions

Fingerprint checks for security clearances, law enforcement positions, or other sensitive roles may take several weeks or even months due to the extensive background checks required.

Legal Proceedings and Court-Ordered Fingerprinting

In legal cases or court-ordered fingerprinting, processing times can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the specific circumstances and agency workloads.


The turnaround time for fingerprint results can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the type of background check, agency workload, and the presence of potential matches or criminal records. While some delays are unavoidable, following best practices, providing accurate information, and using authorized fingerprinting services can help streamline the process and ensure faster results. Remember, patience and proper preparation are key to navigating the fingerprinting process successfully.


What Should I Do If My Fingerprint Results Are Delayed?

Problem: Delayed fingerprint results can be frustrating and may impede progress in various applications, from employment screenings to licensing procedures.

Solution: In case of delays, individuals should first ensure they have submitted all required information accurately. If delays persist, contacting the relevant agency or organization for updates and exploring expedited processing options can help expedite the process.

How Can I Ensure Accurate Fingerprint Submissions?

Problem: Poor-quality or inaccurate fingerprint submissions can lead to processing delays and potential resubmissions, prolonging the overall verification process.

Solution: To ensure accurate submissions, individuals should follow proper fingerprint capture techniques provided by certified fingerprinting services or agencies. Double-checking personal information and adhering to submission guidelines can minimize errors and streamline processing.

What Are the Potential Implications of Fingerprint Result Delays?

Problem: Delays in receiving fingerprint results can have various repercussions, including missed employment opportunities, licensing setbacks, or delays in legal proceedings.

Solution: Understanding the potential implications of delays underscores the importance of proactive communication with relevant agencies or organizations. Exploring alternative verification methods or expedited processing options can help mitigate the impact of delays on individual timelines.

Are There Any Additional Fees Associated with Expedited Fingerprint Processing?

Problem: Individuals may be hesitant to opt for expedited processing due to concerns about additional fees or costs associated with the service.

Solution: While some agencies or clearinghouses may offer expedited processing services for an additional fee, individuals should weigh the potential benefits against the costs. Exploring alternative options or negotiating fee waivers with relevant organizations can help alleviate financial burdens while expediting the verification process.

How Can I Stay Informed About Changes in Fingerprinting Regulations or Procedures?

Problem: Keeping abreast of changes in fingerprinting regulations or procedures can be challenging, potentially leading to confusion or compliance issues.

Solution: Subscribing to updates from relevant regulatory bodies or agencies, staying informed through industry publications or forums, and seeking guidance from legal or compliance experts can help individuals stay ahead of regulatory changes. Proactive communication with requesting organizations or agencies can also provide insights into any updates or modifications to fingerprinting procedures.