Obtaining U.S. Records
CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS FOR U.S. CITIZENS
U.S. citizens may be asked to present a "certificate of good conduct" or "lack of a criminal record" for a variety of reasons for use abroad including applications for Chinese visas or residence permits, adoption, school attendance, 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.
LOCAL POLICE CHECK: Contact your local police department where you last resided in the United States, request that the police conduct a criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record. Local police departments may require your personal appearance in order to conduct the search. Alternatively, some local police departments may allow a friend or relative to obtain the report on your behalf with a Power of Attorney. If you need to do a Power of Attorney, you can make a notarial appointment with the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services office.
FBI RECORDS CHECK: The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) 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 for the $18 processing fee. The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record. Requests should be directed to FBI CJIS Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Rd., Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306. Tel: 001 (304) 625-3878; Fax: 001 (304) 625-5102. If there is no criminal record, a report reflecting this fact is provided.
NOTARIZING DOCUMENT FOR SUBMISSION TO CHINESE AUTHORITIES: Once you obtain your "lack of a criminal record" document, you can make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services office for a notarial service. At your appointment time, we will attach a notarized affidavit to your document, which you can then submit to the Chinese authorities.
GETTING YOUR FINGERPRINTS TAKEN:
If fingerprints are required, U.S. citizens should be able to obtain fingerprint cards from their local police departments. U.S. Embassies and consulates do not provide this service. You may contact the organization below for fingerprinting services in Beijing. Fingerprint Identification: An Overview.
Fingerprinting services are available at the following location:
Beijing Tongdashoucheng Institute of Judicial Expertise Science
Add: 2/F, Building 2, No. 23 Yongtaizhuang Zhonglu, Haidian District, Beijing (北京市海淀区永泰中路23号2号楼1层, the entrance is around the corner from the address given.)
Tel: 010-6290 7011(Reception),
010-8399 4891(Fingerpringting services appointments)
Business hours: Monday - Friday 09:00-15:30
Driving directions: From Jingzang Expressway (京藏高速, previous called Badaling Expressway 八达岭高速), take exit 999 (999急救中心出口), make a right turn under the Qinghe Bridge, go straight past the first traffic light, then turn left. Beijing Tongda Shoucheng Institute of Forensic Science is in the complex of Beijing Forensic Center of Beijing Public Security Bureau (北京市公安局法医鉴定中心院内）.
This same day service usually takes 30-40 minutes processing time. It may take longer if the prints are not clear and they have to do "retakes."
An appointment is preferred, but not required. Most of the personnel do not speak English.
AUTHENTICATION OF POLICE OR FBI CERTIFICATES FOR LACK OF A CRIMINAL RECORD: Documents required for use abroad may require additional authentication after you obtain the local police seal or FBI certificate. See our guidance on authentication or legalization of documents.
Please also see here for more information on whether the US Embassy in Beijing or the State Department in Washington, D.C. is the appropriate authority for your authentication request.