Live scan is the technology used to capture fingerprints electronically, replacing the traditional (and messy) method of paper and ink. With live scan, the fingerprints are “rolled” onto a digital reader, and are transmitted electronically to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a criminal record check. A response is then sent to the agency requesting the live scan. With live scan technology, background clearances can be processed within a few days, rather than the weeks required by traditional fingerprinting.

We also use live scan technology to prepare the ink fingerprint cards required for FBI checks. The fingerprints are rolled electronically, and an FBI-approved printer is used to transfer the prints to the card.

As a result of legislation passed in 1997, the Department of Justice developed an automated background check using digitized fingerprints or “live scan.” As of January 1, 2000, the DOJ required that all fingerprints for be submitted by live scan. Digitizing fingerprints enables the electronic transfer of the fingerprint image along with the subject’s personal information to computers at the Department of Justice in a matter of seconds. The Department of Justice’s goal is to process 95% of digitized fingerprints within three days of receipt.

The agency or employer requesting the live scan provides the applicant with the Request for Live Scan Service form.  The subject then reports to the live scan service location, where a trained and certified technician “rolls” the subject’s fingerprints onto a scanner. The entire process takes under 10 minutes. The appropriate fees are then collected by the technician, and the prints are forwarded electronically to the California Department of Justice. After the fingerprints are checked against the criminal database(s), a report is prepared and sent to the agency that requested the scan.

Please be sure to bring the following to your live scan session:

  • 3 copies of the completed Request for Live Scan Service form. The form is given to the applicant by the agency requesting the Live Scan and must be completed by the agency and applicant. We can neither provide the form nor assist you in filling it out.
  • A valid government-issued photo ID. The following are acceptable forms of identification for live scan purposes:
    • State-issued Drivers License/ID Card
    • U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
    • Federal Government PIV card (Personal Identity Verification Card)
    • Uniformed Services ID Card
    • Department of Defense Common Access Card
    • Foreign Passport with Appropriate Immigration Document(s)
    • USCIS – Permanent Resident Card (I-551) (Green Card)
    • USCIS – Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
    • Federal, State, or local government agency ID card with photograph
    • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
    • Canadian Driver’s License
    • Please note that an interim driver’s license or ID card is not acceptable ID for live scan purposes
  • Payment for the Live Scan service (see below).

The agency or employer requesting the Live Scan fingerprint will provide you with the form.

As a courtesy to our clients, a wide range of Request for Live Scan Service forms can be downloaded through the links provided on our Request for Live Scan Service forms page.

The fees for live scan consist of a $25.00 rolling fee, plus the Department of Justice’s processing fee, which varies according to the nature of the application. If an FBI check is also required, an additional fee will apply. For your convenience, we have provided a list  of the most common processing fees; we nonetheless recommend that you check with either your requesting agency or the Department of Justice to confirm the amount you will be charged.

We accept the following forms of payment: cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, money order, cashier’s check, and personal and business checks. A $25.00 fee will be charged for returned checks.

The Department of Justice usually processes live scan fingerprinting within 72 hours. In the event of any significant delay, the Department of Justice will contact the requesting agency. The results are forwarded directly to the requesting agency.

Once your prints have been taken, please refer any questions you might have to the requesting agency or to the Department of Justice.

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