Don’t want to travel to the US for Fingerprinting to get a FBI Background Check?

Fingerprinting to get a FBI Background Check Without Leaving Paradise: A Hassle-Free Process

If you need Fingerprinting to get a FBI Background Check and don’t want to travel back to the US just to have your fingerprints taken, we’ve got great news for you! Save time and money by getting it all done without leaving paradise.


Currently, the FBI restricts the digital transmission of fingerprints from outside the US. For those within the US, digital scans can be submitted through authorized channelers, but in Costa Rica / Panama, local police departments won’t do this for international purposes, only for local police reports.


UPDATE May 2024 : We are proud to announce that we can get your FBI background check within 24hours in Panama or Costa Rica. Contact us for more information!


So, how can you get your FBI fingerprints taken without costly travel to the US?


Fingerprinting Process: Digital vs. Ink Prints

Traditionally, there are two ways to get your fingerprints taken for an FBI Background Check: ink prints or digital prints.

Ink prints

Ink prints involve a trained technician rolling each of your fingers in ink and placing the prints on a form card. Multiple sets are usually taken to account for smudged prints or lost cards in transit. The ink print cards are then mailed to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia, USA.

Shipping from Panama / Costa Rica to the FBI with a trusted courier and tracking number is highly recommended, but it can be quite expensive, ranging from $70 to $125 USD each way for standard shipping taking 3-5 business days, and even more for expedited services.

Digital fingerprints

Digital fingerprints, on the other hand, require specific scanners with live scan technology to capture the scans onto computer software. From there, the scans can be directly submitted to the FBI. This method offers higher accuracy in capturing prints, increasing the likelihood of acceptance by the FBI and faster report generation, usually within 24-48 hours.

The hybrid method

A hybrid method has recently been approved by the FBI, where fingerprints are taken digitally with the scanner, then printed with a special high-resolution printer. The printed digital scan will then be mailed to the FBI. We have worked closely with the FBI and our vendors to acquire the technology required for this hybrid method.

fingerprinting hybrid method

Getting Fingerprinted in Paradise

Despite the new restrictions, you don’t have to go back to the US to get your fingerprints taken. While the US Embassy and local police stations won’t help fingerprint US citizens for this purpose, Expat-Tations is here for you! We have offices in Panama and Costa Rica, where we offer appointments for fingerprinting. Additionally, in Panama, you can have your fingerprints taken at our new office. Feel free to contact us. The Expat-Tations team is also equipped to make home visits if you are unable to come to either of these offices for some reason.

The technicians at Expat-Tations are trained as required by the FBI and are currently taking classic prints and mailing them directly to the FBI.  Appointments last about 30 minutes per person printed, and background checks are issued within about 3 weeks of the appointment.

Shipping Process

Shipping is required at every step of the way. As you may have noticed, shipping to and from Costa Rica or Panama can have its challenges.

Expat-Tations has years of experience and has researched the very best shipping methods for each route to determine the most secure and efficient couriers. We can expedite the turnaround time and save on costly international shipping.

The mailing process starts with sending the prints and required documentation. From there, the FBI emails or ships the report to the person requesting it. If emailed, the report is required to be printed on special security paper provided by the FBI to their approved channelers. Once printed, it needs to get the Apostille before being shipped to the intended country.

Apostille Process

Once the FBI report is issued and printed on security paper, it must be sent along with payment, a cover letter, application form, and prepaid return shipping to the Department of State of the United States for Apostille. An Apostille is a special acknowledgment from the country of origin (in this case, the United States) to the country of intended use (where you will present the document to immigration, for example, Costa Rica or Panama). It is required for most documents used internationally. The Apostille process takes 10-11 weeks and does currently not have an expedited option. Note: We are constantly bettering our services and options. By the time you read this, things might have changed. For further questions, you’re always welcome to contact us.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how to get your FBI Background Check without leaving paradise, have you considered what other documents might be required for your legal process? Some vital records can take several months to procure and authenticate, and legal processes might even require bank letters or other documents to receive an Apostille. Expat-Tations is here to take care of this so you can focus on achieving your dreams and enjoying your new home.

Are you ready to take the next step? Whether you are applying for residency, citizenship, a temporary visa, or if you are ready to invest in real estate or start your own business, our company, Expat-Tations, can help ensure the process is done correctly, saving you time and money in the long run.

Please be aware that documents and regulations may change without prior notice. Expat-Tations stays abreast of updates from governments, vendors, and couriers. Feel free to reach out with any questions and to receive updated information.

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