If you need to use your FBI Identity History Summary (commonly known as a criminal background check) in a foreign country, you will likely need to have it apostilled. An apostille certifies the authenticity of the document, making it valid for use abroad. This process can seem daunting, but with the right information, you can navigate it smoothly. This guide will walk you through the steps to obtain an apostille for your FBI Identity History Summary, ensuring that your document is ready for international use.

What is an Apostille?

An apostille is a certificate issued by a designated authority in a country that is a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention. This certificate verifies the authenticity of the document to which it is attached. In the United States, the Department of State is the authority responsible for issuing apostilles for federal documents, including the FBI Identity History Summary.

Why You Need an Apostille for Your FBI Identity History Summary

When you need to present your FBI report abroad, such as for employment, immigration, or legal purposes, the receiving country will often require an apostille to ensure that the document is genuine. Without an apostille, your FBI report might not be accepted, causing delays and complications.

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Steps to Obtain an FBI Identity History Summary Apostille

1. Request Your FBI Identity History Summary

Before you can apostille your FBI report, you must first obtain the report itself. Here’s how you can request it:

  • Online Application: Visit the FBI’s official website and complete the online application form for an Identity History Summary Check.
  • Fingerprint Submission: You will need to submit your fingerprints. You can do this electronically through an FBI-approved channeler or by mailing a hard copy fingerprint card.
  • Payment: Pay the processing fee as instructed on the FBI’s website.
  • Processing Time: Typically, it takes about 3-5 business days to receive your FBI report electronically, or longer if you choose to receive a hard copy by mail.

2. Obtain an Apostille for Your FBI Report

Once you have your FBI Identity History Summary, the next step is to get it apostilled. Here’s how:

  • Prepare Your Document: Ensure your FBI report is printed on official FBI letterhead.
  • Submit to the Department of State: Send your FBI report to the U.S. Department of State for authentication. Include the following in your submission:
    • The original FBI report or a certified copy.
    • A completed Apostille Request Form (Form DS-4194), available on the Department of State’s website.
    • Payment for the apostille service fee.
    • A self-addressed, stamped return envelope.

3. Alternative: Use an Apostille Service

To simplify the process, you might consider using an apostille service. These services handle the entire process on your behalf, ensuring that all requirements are met and that your document is processed correctly and efficiently. An apostille service can save you time and ensure that your documents are handled by professionals familiar with the authentication process.

Tips for a Smooth Apostille Process

  • Double-Check Requirements: Each country may have specific requirements for document authentication. Verify the requirements with the consulate or embassy of the country where you will be using the FBI report.
  • Stay Organized: Keep copies of all documents you send and track your submissions.
  • Plan Ahead: Processing times can vary, so start the process well in advance of your deadline to avoid any last-minute issues.


Q: How long does it take to get an apostille from the Department of State?

A: The processing time for an apostille from the Department of State can vary, but it typically takes several weeks. Expedited services are available for an additional fee.

Q: Can I expedite the process?

A: Yes, some apostille services offer expedited processing. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to receive your apostilled document.

Q: Is there a fee for the apostille service?

A: Yes, there is a fee for obtaining an apostille from the Department of State. Fees can vary, so check the Department of State’s website for the most current information.


Obtaining an apostille for your FBI Identity History Summary is a crucial step when you need to use this document abroad. By following the outlined steps, you can ensure that your document is authenticated correctly and efficiently. Whether you choose to handle the process yourself or use an apostille service, being informed and prepared will help you navigate the process smoothly.

For additional information and to start your application, visit the FBI’s official website and the U.S. Department of State’s website. By taking the time to understand the process and gather the necessary documents, you can ensure that your FBI report is ready for international use, helping you meet your personal or professional goals abroad. To apply for your apostille, call (978)424-4629 or stop by our Boston, MA area office here: 1215 Main St, Tewksbury, MA 01876.

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