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How to get your FBI clearance from outside the USA.

24 February 2020

In the past few months, many UWC Eswatini National Committee and Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA alumni , who have studied in the USA have been pulling their hair out trying to get FBI clearances for South African immigration purposes. Here is a short outline of how to go about sourcing your FBI clearance from outside the USA.

First and foremost, the South African High Commission, South African Embassy or VFS Global office in the country you are applying from will request that you provide a police clearance from the USA, seeing as you spent more than 12 months living there. The USA however does not provide police clearances for individuals living outside of the USA as you are required to be at the City/County/State police station with a valid US State ID in person in order for the police clearance to be issued. Which means the only option available to individuals living outside of the USA is requesting an FBI Identity History Summary.

In order to begin the Identity History Summary, you visit the FBI website and read the steps for obtaining your clearance clearly as one small mistake may delay your clearance by weeks. The FBI offers three options for requesting your Identity History Summary or proof that one does not exist. 

1. Electronically Submit Your Request Directly to the FBI 

Go to

Follow the steps under the “Obtaining Your Identity History Summary” section. These steps include filling in your details, paying the online administration fee of US$18 and printing the fingerprint card. 

Once you have had your fingerprints taken, courier your fingerprint card, together with the confirmation of payment email to: 

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

If you submit your request electronically, the FBI will send an e-mail to the e-mail address provided on the request with a secure link and personal identification number for accessing all results, both foreign and domestic. The FBI will also send a hard copy of all results, both foreign and domestic, by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service if this option is selected during the request process.

The requests should be processed faster upon receipt of your completed fingerprint card via the mail in the date order they are received.

The option to receive status notifications by e-mail may be selected in the Preferences section during the request process.

2. Submit Your Request Directly to the FBI via the Mail 

Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information Form.

Step 2: Your fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes. The FBI will accept FD-258 fingerprint cards on standard white paper stock.

You must provide a current fingerprint card. Previously processed cards or copies will not be accepted.

Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card.

You must include rolled impressions of all 10 fingerprints and impressions of all 10 fingerprints taken at the same time (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions).

If possible, have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. This service may be available at a law enforcement agency. The FBI recommends that red or purple ink not be used for fingerprinting.

Fingerprints taken with ink or via live scan are acceptable. If your fingerprints are taken via a live scan device, a hard copy must be generated so the fingerprint card can be mailed to the FBI.

To ensure the most legible prints possible, refer to the Recording Legible Fingerprints page. If fingerprints are not legible, the fingerprint card will be rejected. This could cause delays in processing and could also result in additional fees.

The name on your response letter will match the name indicated on the fingerprint card when your application, payment, and fingerprint card are submitted via the mail.

If the last four digits of your Social Security number are needed on your response letter, then please ensure the full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number are on the fingerprint card when submitting your request.

For more information, refer to the Recording Friction Ridges module. 

Step 3: Submit Payment

Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form. Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.

Obtain a money order or certified check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure you sign where required.

Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted and sending any of these will delay processing of your request.

Payment must be for the exact amount.

If the request is for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person.

The FBI will provide one sealed response for each request received. You may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response. Note: If you need additional sealed responses mailed to the same address or separate address, you must submit an additional request with another payment of US$18 for each sealed response requested. Also, if you need additional copies of your response that do not need to be in a sealed envelope, you may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response.

If you are unable to pay the $18 fee, your request for a waiver of the fee must include a claim and proof of indigence, such as a notarised affidavit of indigence.

The FBI will not accept additional payment to expedite your request.

Mail the required items listed above—signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 U.S. dollars per person—to the following address:

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

If the FBI finds no Identity History Summary on file, you will receive a response by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service indicating that you have no prior arrest data on file at the FBI. If you do have an Identity History Summary on file, you will receive your Identity History Summary or “rap sheet” by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.

3.Submit Your Request to an FBI-Approved Channeler 


An FBI-approved Channeler is a private business that has contracted with the FBI to submit your request on your behalf. FBI-approved Channelers receive the fingerprint submission and relevant data, collect the associated fee(s), electronically forward the fingerprint submission with the necessary information to the FBI for a national Identity History Summary check, and receive the electronic summary check result for dissemination to the individual. An FBI-approved Channeler simply helps expedite the delivery of Identity History Summary information on behalf of the FBI.

The process for making a request through an FBI-approved Channeler is consistent with FBI submission procedures. Please note that an FBI-approved Channeler may have different methods or processes for submissions. Also, additional fees may apply above the FBI fee for requests submitted through an FBI-approved Channeler. Contact each Channeler for costs, processing times, and availability in your area.

An individual requesting an Identity History Summary or proof that a summary does not exist through FBI-approved Channelers should contact the Channeler directly for complete information and instructions.




**Information sourced from**