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Get your FBI criminal background search for residency in Costa Rica

by rpetersen

As part of your residency application process to Costa Rica the Department of Immigration requires you to submit a background check.   For citizens of the United States the law was vague as to the kind of background search that would be acceptable.   Would they accept a local City, County, or State background check?  For many years the answer has been YES.   However, the Department of Immigration recently changed its internal criteria and has obligated applicants to provide a background check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in the United States.  So how do you get this done ? 

The FBI can provide individuals with what they call an Identity History Summary which is most commonly called a criminal history record. 

You can start the process online or by mail.   To do so on line you can go to the website of the Identity History Summary Checks of the FBI.  That website is: https://www.edo.cjis.gov/#/

According to the processing section it indicates that ” An e-mail address must be provided in order to initiate the application process. A secure link, along with a personal identification number, will be sent to the specified address and will be used to complete the online application. The same secure link and personal identification number will be used to check the status of your application and to access your results. You may optionally elect to have your results sent to you by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.”  

As part of the process you will need to be fingerprinted in order to have the F.B.I. do the background check for you.   Those fingerprints can be done at authorized Postal Service facilities.  The link to those is: https://www.edo.cjis.gov/#/org/USPS.  The FBI also has a list of authorized channelers that can process fingerprints as well. 

The fingerprints must be taken on a standard fingerprinting form used by the FBI or biometric fingerprinting with an authorized service provider.

If you prefer to process it by mail then the FBI provides the following guidelines to do so:

 Submit Your Request Directly to the FBI via the Mail 

Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information Form.

  • If the request is for a couple, family, etc., each person must complete and sign a form.
  • Include a complete mailing address. Please provide your telephone number and e-mail address, if available.
  • Your results will be provided on standard white paper and returned to you by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Self-addressed envelopes will not be accepted. This includes pre-paid Priority Mail, FedEx account numbers, United Parcel Service, etc., foreign postage coupons, and requests to forward correspondence to the Department of State for the apostille process.

Step 2: Obtain a Set of Your Fingerprints

  • Your fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes. The FBI will accept FD-258 fingerprint cards on standard white paper stock.
  • You must provide a current fingerprint card. Previously processed cards or copies will not be accepted.
  • Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card.
  • You must include rolled impressions of all 10 fingerprints and impressions of all 10 fingerprints taken at the same time (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions).
  • If possible, have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. This service may be available at a law enforcement agency. The FBI recommends that red or purple ink not be used for fingerprinting.
  • Fingerprints taken with ink or via live scan are acceptable. If your fingerprints are taken via a live scan device, a hard copy must be generated so the fingerprint card can be mailed to the FBI.
  • To ensure the most legible prints possible, refer to the Recording Legible Fingerprints page. If fingerprints are not legible, the fingerprint card will be rejected. This could cause delays in processing and could also result in additional fees.
  • The name on your response letter will match the name indicated on the fingerprint card when your application, payment, and fingerprint card are submitted via the mail.
  • If the last four digits of your Social Security number are needed on your response letter, then please ensure the full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number are on the fingerprint card when submitting your request.
  • For more information, refer to the Recording Friction Ridges module. 

Step 3: Submit Payment

  • Option 1: Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form. Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.
  • Option 2: Obtain a money order or certified check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure you sign where required.
  • Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted and sending any of these will delay processing of your request.
  • Payment must be for the exact amount.
  • If the request is for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person.
  • The FBI will provide one sealed response for each request received. You may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response. Note: If you need additional sealed responses mailed to the same address or separate address, you must submit an additional request with another payment of $18 for each sealed response requested. Also, if you need additional copies of your response that do not need to be in a sealed envelope, you may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response.
  • If you are unable to pay the $18 fee, your request for a waiver of the fee must include a claim and proof of indigence, such as a notarized affidavit of indigence.
  • The FBI will not accept additional payment to expedite your request.

Step 4: Review

Step 5: Mail the Required Items Listed Above

Mail the required items listed above—signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 U.S. dollars per person—to the following address:

FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

What Happens Next

If we find no Identity History Summary on file, you will receive a response by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service indicating that you have no prior arrest data on file at the FBI. If you do have an Identity History Summary on file, you will receive your Identity History Summary or “rap sheet” by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.

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