Live Scan Fingerprinting Live Scan Process

Understanding the Live Scan Process: From Digital Fingerprinting to DOJ and FBI Analysis

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Fingerprint analysis has been at the forefront of criminal investigations for over a century, playing a critical role in linking suspects to crime scenes and providing vital evidence in countless cases. As technology continues to evolve, so too does the fingerprinting process. Enter Live Scan, a state-of-the-art digital fingerprinting solution that captures fingerprints electronically and submits them directly to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for analysis.

Gone are the days of inky fingers and smudged prints on cards; Live Scan is revolutionizing how we record, store, and analyze fingerprints. In this blog post, we will explore the Live Scan process in detail, from the digital capture of fingerprints to the analysis performed by the DOJ and FBI.

By understanding this technology, we can better appreciate the speed, efficiency, and security it brings to identity verification and criminal background checks. So, let’s dive into the world of Live Scan and discover its transformative impact on our criminal justice system.

Background check purpose and importance

Background checks are crucial in today’s society and are instrumental in maintaining safety and trust in various professional and personal scenarios. They provide essential information about an individual’s past, primarily focusing on criminal history or records.

These checks are essential in helping employers, licensing authorities, and organizations make informed decisions when granting clearance for specific roles and responsibilities.

The importance of background checks cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to positions involving vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and dependent adults. A thorough background check helps protect these susceptible individuals from potential harm. They also help mitigate risks associated with legal liability should there be any security breaches or criminal acts committed by someone with a prior history that went unnoticed.

Apart from employment or licensing-related purposes, background checks also play a vital role in immigration, security clearances, and other personal matters. By verifying an individual’s identity and background through a reliable process, there is an enhanced sense of safety and trust in society, enabling people to confidently pursue their goals without fear of unnecessary harm or risks.

Role of the California DOJ in maintaining criminal records

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) plays a vital role in maintaining criminal records for the State of California. It manages the statewide criminal record repository, which contains arrest and corresponding disposition information submitted by various law enforcement agencies, such as sheriff, police and probation departments, district attorney offices, and courts.

The DOJ uses this data to compile Records of Arrest and Prosecution (RAP sheets) for individuals based on fingerprint submissions that provide unique biometric identification.

These records, such as employment and licensing background checks, are available for law enforcement and regulatory purposes. The California DOJ’s diligent efforts in preserving and updating these records ensure that necessary precautions can be taken to safeguard California’s citizenry, particularly the most vulnerable populations, and to maintain the safety and integrity of workplaces in the state.

Fingerprinting as a biometric identification tool

Fingerprinting is a widely recognized biometric identification method that relies on the unique patterns on an individual’s fingertips. This method has been used in various applications, including law enforcement, immigration, and security.

Biometrics, which also includes iris patterns and facial features, provides higher accuracy and security than other forms of identification, such as personal identification numbers (PINs) or password-based systems.

The effectiveness of fingerprinting as a biometric tool is attributed to the uniqueness and permanence of fingerprint patterns. These patterns remain relatively unchanged throughout a person’s life, making them a reliable and consistent identifier.

Technological advances have recently simplified and enhanced capturing and analyzing fingerprints. Digital fingerprinting or Live Scan is now widely utilized, offering quick and accurate results compared to traditional ink-based methods.

As a result, fingerprinting has become an essential tool in various sectors, ensuring the safety and security of individuals and organizations alike. The use of fingerprint biometric technology has increased, making it an indispensable part of today’s society for confirming identity and reducing the risk of identity fraud.

Increase in demand for criminal background checks.

The demand for criminal background checks has seen a noticeable increase in recent years. This surge can be attributed to a heightened awareness of their availability and importance in making informed regulatory hiring decisions.

Employers and licensing authorities often use background checks to screen applicants who may be entrusted with positions that place them in a position of trust with some of society’s most vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly, and dependent adults.

By conducting a thorough background check before employment, licensing, or certification, employers and licensing authorities can gain valuable information about an applicant’s criminal history that may help evaluate their suitability for the position.

This helps maintain safety and integrity in the workplace and minimizes the risk of potential harm to the people these professionals serve. Additionally, employers and licensing authorities can avoid legal liabilities arising from employing or certifying individuals with specified active arrests or convictions when statutes prohibit it.

Live Scan for Personal and Non-Employment Purposes

Live Scan fingerprinting is not only utilized for employment and licensing purposes but also for individuals seeking it for personal and non-employment reasons. In some cases, people may opt for Live Scan to obtain a copy of their criminal history record or for immigration purposes.

The process remains the same, where an individual’s fingerprints are digitally scanned and securely transmitted to the appropriate government agencies for a background check using an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). The advantages of Live Scan over traditional ink fingerprinting include improved image quality, faster result turnaround times, and enhanced security measures.

Regardless of the purpose, Live Scan provides a reliable and efficient method of conducting a thorough background check, ensuring peace of mind for both the individual and the requesting agency. It is crucial to remember that specific procedures and fees may vary, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a Live Scan provider for accurate guidance on personal and non-employment purposes requirements.

Vulnerable populations and safety concerns

Vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and dependent adults, often require additional safety measures regarding background checks and employment or volunteer work involving their care. 

Live Scan fingerprinting offers an efficient, secure, and reliable method for performing criminal history background checks on these individuals. 

Using digital fingerprinting technology, Live Scan helps ensure higher image quality than traditional ink fingerprinting, minimizing errors caused by smudging or improper inking. Moreover, the electronic transmission of fingerprint images allows for the swift delivery of results to the relevant agencies, usually within 24 to 48 hours. This faster turnaround time ultimately benefits vulnerable populations by ensuring that only qualified and trustworthy individuals work in positions of trust related to their care.

By safeguarding the well-being and security of these populations, the Live Scan process is an essential tool in maintaining their safety and protection.

Use of Social Security Numbers in Live Scan Process

In the Live Scan process, an individual’s Social Security number plays a crucial role in ensuring that their fingerprint records are accurately captured and transmitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI for analysis.

This unique identifier helps authorities distinguish between individuals with similar names and other personal details, making the background check process more efficient and accurate. Moreover, the DOJ has stringent policies and procedures when protecting applicants’ personal information.

Live Scan systems are required to store fingerprint data securely, and records may only be held on these systems for 30 days. Additionally, all expired forms must be shredded before disposal.

This careful handling of sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, ensures that the Live Scan process remains a reliable and secure means of obtaining fingerprint records for various purposes like employment, licensing, and certification.

Live Scan process and request form

The Live Scan process is an efficient and accurate method for conducting background checks and verifying the suitability of candidates for employment or various licenses. To initiate the Live Scan process, applicants must complete the “Request for Live Scan Service” form (BCII 8016).

This form provides essential information about the applicant, including their Social Security number and any other names they have used in an official capacity, such as maiden names or professional aliases.

In addition to the form, applicants must also provide a Department of Justice (DOJ)-approved photo ID, such as a California driver’s license, passport, or military ID card.

Once this information is submitted along with the appropriate fees, the applicant’s fingerprints are digitally captured and transmitted to the DOJ and, if required, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a thorough analysis of their criminal history.

The Live Scan process offers several advantages over traditional ink fingerprinting, notably its faster turnaround time and a higher likelihood of capturing quality fingerprint images.

By submitting a properly filled-out request form and providing the necessary documentation, candidates can expect a more streamlined and accurate assessment of their suitability for employment, licensing, and certification opportunities.

DOJ-approved photo ID and other required information

When undergoing the Live Scan fingerprinting process, it’s important to provide accurate and complete personal information, including a Department of Justice (DOJ)-approved photo ID.

This ensures the integrity of the background check and expedites the process. Acceptable DOJ-approved photo IDs include a driver’s license, state-issued identification card, or passport.

In addition to the photo ID, the other required information for Live Scan typically includes your full name, date of birth, gender, and social security number. It’s crucial to provide accurate and complete information to ensure a smooth Live Scan process and avoid delays in obtaining background check results. Sometimes, individuals may be asked to provide other name information, such as aliases or maiden names if applicable.

By providing all essential information, you can trust the accuracy of your background check and that it will be completed promptly. So, always keep your DOJ-approved photo ID and other necessary documents handy when seeking Live Scan fingerprinting services.

Providing other name information and Social Security number

When applying for Live Scan fingerprinting services, you must provide accurate and complete personal information, including any other names or aliases you may have used officially. This may include maiden names, professional names, or any other name used in the past.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) advises applicants to list any known aliases to ensure a thorough and accurate background check.

In addition to providing other name information, applicants must share their Social Security number (SSN) during the Live Scan process. The SSN helps the Department of Justice to uniquely identify each applicant and maintain the privacy and security of their personal information.

Under strict DOJ policies, Live Scan operators and agencies must adhere to security measures that safeguard applicants’ SSNs and other personal details.

Providing your SSN for Live Scan fingerprinting is a necessary step in completing the background check process as required for employment, licensing, and other purposes.

Fees and Payments: What to Expect When Requesting Live Scan Fingerprinting Services

When requesting Live Scan fingerprinting services, it’s essential to understand the fees and payments involved. Typically, there are two primary components to the total cost of a Live Scan: the rolling fee and the background check fees.

The rolling fee is the amount the Live Scan provider charges for digitally capturing and transmitting your fingerprints to the Department of Justice (DOJ). This fee can vary depending on the provider and location.

In addition to the rolling fee, there are fees for the actual background checks. A DOJ background check costs around $32, while an FBI background check typically costs $19. Remember that some agencies, employers, or organizations may require only a DOJ check, while others might need a DOJ and FBI check, affecting the overall cost.

It is also important to note that if you have previously undergone a Live Scan fingerprinting for a different employer or licensing agency, you will generally need to perform a new Live Scan, as sharing background information between agencies is against privacy regulations. Be prepared to cover these costs whenever you need a background check for a new position or license.

Rolling fees and costs of background checks

The rolling fee is a cost associated with the Live Scan fingerprinting process, which Live Scan operators charge to digitally capture an individual’s fingerprints and transmit them to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

This fee is separate from the background check fees, typically costing $32 for the DOJ and $19 for the Federal Bureau (FBI). These background checks are crucial when it comes to determining a person’s suitability for employment, licensing, or certification.

In today’s digital age, Live Scan fingerprinting has gained popularity due to its efficiency and accuracy, replacing traditional ink fingerprinting methods.

With Live Scan, fingerprints are digitally obtained and transmitted directly to the DOJ and FBI for analysis, enabling quicker results than ink fingerprints. It’s important to note that even if an individual has been previously fingerprinted, they may still need to undergo a new Live Scan for different employment or licensing purposes, as background information cannot legally be shared between businesses or organizations.

Need for new Live Scan even if previously fingerprinted.

The need for a new Live Scan may arise even if you have previously undergone digital fingerprinting. This is primarily because licensing agencies, organizations, or companies are legally prohibited from sharing an applicant’s background information as it goes against the individual’s right to privacy.

Once your background information is sent to the Referring Agency, the Department of Justice (DOJ) deletes your fingerprint record, ensuring that no record is accessible to share with your new employer or licensing agency. So, if you need a background check for a new position or certification, you must go through the Live Scan process again.

The quick and accurate Live Scan method ensures that your fingerprints match your unique profile and don’t leave any permanent record behind. This maintains the confidentiality of your personal and criminal history while providing the necessary information for a background check.

Purpose of Background Checks for Employment and Licensing

Background checks serve a crucial purpose for employment and licensing, as they provide hiring or licensing authorities with essential information to aid in evaluating an applicant. Many applicants are candidates for positions that involve high trust, often working closely with vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly, dependent adults, and children. Conducting a criminal background check before employment, certification, or licensing helps to ensure the safety and integrity of the workplace and protects individuals from potential harm.

Furthermore, suppose applicants with active arrests or convictions are employed or licensed. In that case, legal liability can fall on employment and licensing authorities when the statute prohibits such actions based on successfully completing a background check.

Whether through the traditional ink fingerprinting method or the more modern and efficient Live Scan process, background checks are vital in maintaining secure work environments and upholding public trust.

Live Scan vs. Ink Fingerprinting: A Comparison of Methods and Efficiency

Live Scan and ink fingerprinting are two methods commonly used for capturing a person’s unique fingerprint patterns for identification and verification purposes. While both methods serve the same purpose, they differ significantly in efficiency and accuracy.

Here is a comparison of the two methods:


Live Scan is generally more accurate than ink fingerprinting because Live Scan fingerprinting utilizes digital technology which means the digital images captured by Live Scan are clearer and easier to read than the ink impressions created by ink fingerprinting. So it is better fingerprint quality than ink fingerprinting.


Live Scan is also faster processing time than ink fingerprinting. Live Scan, fingerprint capture takes only 10 to 15 minutes, and digital fingerprints are securely encrypted and transmitted electronically which can save time. In contrast, ink fingerprinting involves rolling fingers on an ink pad and pressing them onto prepared cards, which can result in smudging or inconsistent quality Also it requires the fingerprints to be physically mailed or hand-delivered, which can take longer.


Live Scan is more secure than ink fingerprinting. The digital images captured by Live Scan are encrypted and transmitted securely, which helps to protect the privacy of the individual’s fingerprints. Ink fingerprinting, on the other hand, is less secure because the fingerprints are ink on paper, which can be easily lost or stolen.


Live Scan is more expensive than ink fingerprinting. This is because the equipment and software required for Live Scan are more expensive than the materials required for ink fingerprinting. Although ink fingerprinting is less expensive and widely available, it is more prone to errors.


Live Scan is more widely available than ink fingerprinting. There are many Live Scan centers located throughout the United States, while ink fingerprinting is typically only available at law enforcement agencies.

Overall, Live Scan is the more efficient and accurate method of capturing fingerprints for background checks. However, it is also more expensive and less widely available than ink fingerprinting. The best method for a particular organization will depend on its specific needs and requirements.

Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing between Live Scan and ink fingerprinting:

  • The purpose of the background check. If the background check is for a high-security position, Live Scan may be the better option because it is more accurate and secure.
  • The budget. If the organization is on a tight budget, ink fingerprinting may be the more affordable option.
  • The availability. If the organization needs to get the fingerprints taken quickly, Live Scan may be the better option because it is more widely available.

Overall, Live Scan offers a more reliable and efficient method for capturing fingerprints, while ink fingerprinting remains a more affordable yet less accurate alternative.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do I need Live Scan Fingerprinting?

    Live Scan Fingerprinting is required for certain jobs and licenses that deal with vulnerable populations. This process ensures the safety and security of environments where public trust is paramount.

    Live Scan Fingerprinting is conducted for criminal history checks that cross-reference national databases providing employers with valuable information about potential hires or licensing applicants. Additionally, the fingerprinting process ensures that individuals are who they claim to be, which may be required for identity verification purposes.

  • How often do I need to get Live Scan Fingerprinted?

    It depends on the agency or employer requesting the Live Scan. Generally, fingerprints are valid for up to 60 days, but some agencies may require more frequent fingerprinting. It’s best to check with the agency or employer to determine their specific requirements. If you need to be fingerprinted again, you will receive a notification from the agency or employer. It’s important to note that fingerprints are specific to the requester and cannot be transferred to another agency or employer.

  • How long does the Live Scan process take?

    How long does the Live Scan process take? The process of taking Live Scan fingerprints typically takes around 10–15 minutes per person. However, the time to receive results depends on various factors, including the existence of any criminal information in the applicant’s record and the process at the DOJ. Usually, results are sent to the requesting agency within 2-3 business days, but it can take up to 3–4 weeks in some cases. Applicants can check the status of their Live Scan on the Department of Justice Applicant Status Check website.

  • What do I need to bring to my Live Scan appointment?

    When going to a Live Scan appointment, there are a few items you will need to bring with you. First, you must have three copies of the completed Request for Live Scan Service form provided by the agency requesting the Live Scan. Secondly, you must have a valid government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport.

    Lastly, you will need the payment for the Live Scan service, which includes a rolling fee of $25 and a background investigation fee charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

  • How much does Live Scan Fingerprinting cost?

    Live Scan fingerprinting costs between $10 to $35 for a standard appointment, depending on the state and agency. Specific types of applications may have additional costs, such as the DOJ Fee for Record Review, which is $25. Prices may also vary depending on the Live Scan provider.

    It is recommended to contact Live Scan providers in advance to verify their current operating hours and fees. Live Scan is an affordable option for obtaining necessary criminal background checks.

  • How long does it take to receive a response from the Live Scan process?

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) usually processes Live Scan fingerprints within 72 hours. However, delays may occur. For any significant delays, the DOJ will contact the requesting agency. The results are either emailed or sent to the requesting agency listed on the Request for Live Scan Service Form. Once the Live Scan process has been completed, please contact the agency handling your employment or licensing with all inquiries.

  • Does Live Scan guarantee accurate fingerprinting?

    While Live Scan is an efficient and reliable way to obtain fingerprints, it does not always guarantee accurate fingerprinting. Factors such as skin type, age, and medical conditions can affect the quality of fingerprints. The Live Scan operator is responsible for capturing the best possible prints, but errors can occur. If your prints are rejected by the Department of Justice, you may need to redo the process. However, Live Scan providers should have procedures in place to minimize the occurrence of rejected prints.

  • Does Live Scan offer mobile services?

    Yes, Live Scan providers offer mobile services for an additional fee. This means they can come to your location and perform Live Scan fingerprinting. This service is usually available for groups or organizations that need multiple employees or members to be fingerprinted simultaneously.

    Mobile Live Scan providers will bring all the necessary equipment to your location and perform the fingerprinting on-site. Contact your preferred Live Scan provider to inquire about their mobile services and fees.

  • Does Live Scan offer corporate billing accounts?

    Yes, Live Scan offers corporate billing accounts. This allows organizations to manage the cost of Live Scan appointments by being billed periodically rather than paying for each appointment at the time of service.

    Corporate billing accounts require pre-approval by Live Scan and may have specific requirements, such as a minimum number of appointments per billing cycle. Organizations interested in setting up a corporate billing account should contact their nearest Live Scan location for more information.

  • What happens if my fingerprints are rejected by the Department of Justice?

    If your fingerprints are rejected by the Department of Justice, it could be due to factors that are difficult to capture in the Live Scan process like cuts, scars, and calluses. If this occurs, the agency where you were fingerprinted will re-scan your fingerprints at no additional cost.

    Unfortunately, previous Live Scan information cannot be utilized, and you must go through the process again. However, these rejections do not necessarily indicate a criminal record, and they are not uncommon.

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