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, and you should check with the requesting entity what type of record they are seeking. 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 need to contact the FBI directly.

For additional information regarding criminal record checks, see 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 thereof by submitting a written request to the 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.  Remember that the Ecuadorian entity may request this criminal record check to be apostilled, if this is the case please remember that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate cannot do apostilles and this procedure will have to be completed in the U.S.  Please contact the FBI directly 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: Finger Print Card.

Once the prints have been taken, you must follow the instructions on the FBI website regarding a Criminal Record Check (Identity History Summary Check).