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Background Checks and Fingerprints

Criminal Records for U.S. Citizens Abroad

U.S. citizens abroad may be asked to present a “background check” or “certificate of a criminal record” (Certificado de Antecedentes Penales) for a variety of reasons for use locally including residence, visas, adoption, employment, etc.  U.S. law enforcement authorities may not be familiar with such a procedure since it is not commonly requested in the United States.

There are a variety of options available to U.S. citizens seeking to obtain proof of their lack of a criminal record.  You should check with the requesting entity to determine what type of record they are seeking.  For example, if a state criminal record check is requested, you can contact the state’s law enforcement agency.  If the entity requests a national criminal record check, you will need to contact the FBI.

For additional information regarding criminal record checks, please refer to the State Department website.

FBI Criminal Record 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 by submitting an electronic or written request to FBI/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 to cover the processing fee.

The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record.  Please be aware that the requesting entity may require that the results of a criminal record check be apostilled.  If this is a requirement, please note that U.S. Embassy Guatemala cannot do apostilles and this procedure will have to be completed by the U.S. Department of State.  Please contact the FBI directly (identity@fbi.gov or 304-625-5590) for more information on this matter.


The U.S. Embassy does not provide fingerprinting services.  In order to have your fingerprints taken, you must take a fingerprint card to a local enforcement agency to request this service.  Fingerprint cards can be downloaded from the FBI’s website.  In Guatemala City, fingerprints may be taken at the Gabinete Criminalistico of the Policía Nacional Civil located in Zone 6.

Once the prints have been taken, you must follow the instructions on the FBI website to obtain a Criminal Record Check.