fingerYes, I’m giving you the bird.

More than a month ago I made an inaugural trip to the headquarters of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan police department to have a specialist take my fingerprints. After one receives his or her “certificat,” part of the process before heading to Luxembourg involves obtaining an FBI background check, known also as a “rap sheet.” This is kind of intimidating, for me at least, considering this step entails interacting with the FBI, another federal bureaucracy, via mail. I submitted my information so that I could give myself enough time to have the rap sheet translated — remember, documents during this stage that are not already in French or German must be translated by an official translator.

I haven’t received my rap sheet yet, but this has become a nail-biter of a situation, because I’ve planned a trip to Europe (more on that to come). Even though I’ve heard that people usually get it back in the mail within a month, I’m nevertheless nervous. It’s the same feeling we all had/have/will have about waiting for whether we qualified/qualify for the “certificat.”

But I’ll remain optimistic. Hopefully it gets here with enough time to spare. In addition to worrying about the time frame, I’m also anxious because our neighborhood postal worker is, well, horrendously incompetent?

I have met most of the neighbors on my block of Capitol Hill because I’ve had to return mail to them or they’ve come to my door to hand mail to me. Why can’t U.S. government workers be as friendly and efficient as those in Luxembourg? Sigh.

Does anyone else have experiences with getting the FBI background check? I’d like to know more about how long it took from the day you sent it out to the day it arrived in the mailbox. Comment away!


Fingerprints and the FBI

20 thoughts on “Fingerprints and the FBI

  1. I’m also waiting on mine Trevor. I used a FBI-Approved Channeler, so instead of 18$ it cost 39.99$ and will be here in a week. Hopefully the fingerprints are good because i have heard horror stories of people having to redo their finger prints several times because the prints weren’t clear enough for the FBI.

    • Seriously? That’s awful. When I got my fingerprints, it seemed very official, and the guy treated it as if it were not only a science but an art, hahaha. Hopefully he fingerprinted me correctly. Only a week? That’s not bad. Maybe if I’m feeling nervous as the days fly by I’ll do that as a backup.

  2. Hey there, I’m going through the process now and received my FBI rap sheet in 5-6 weeks from the time I mailed it (I also sent it certified mail to make sure they actually received my application & fingerprints). The rap sheet is just a one-pager, but it also took another couple of weeks to have it and my birth certificate officially translated. I’m working through the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society, and they have a checklist of everything you’ll need to take w/you to Lux — if you’d like me to send it to you, let me know and I’ll forward.

  3. My wife got her FBI “rap sheet” the same day as her fingerprints. It took about 30 minutes. She went to an office in Las Vegas. You can get them done quickly if you go to the right place.

    • I’m glad you said this. Per many things in this application process, I’m often told disparate answers to questions. I was told by someone that the background check needed to be through the FBI and not an intermediary source. Was this office an FBI bureau or something else? I live in D.C., so I should be able to get background check quicker than usual (or at least one would think so, hahaha). Also, I don’t think the Luxembourg government will be super picky, so maybe I should pursue this right away. Let me know exactly what your wife did. You can even email me at Thanks for your help!

    • Randy,

      After reading your comments I found that service to be great too! I got mine less than 15 minutes after I went in.. The only problem I see now (of course after I paid the 50 bucks..) is how to get them to Luxembourg.. I dont know if printing them at home is going to be “official enough” to count…? I reallllllyyy hope your wife has already had success bringing them to Luxembourg? / How did she do this??

  4. I had 3 tries to get fingerprints clear enough for the FBI–that took 10 months in total. Granted, I have very smooth hands that mostly leave smudges instead of prints. So, if a federal job doesn’t pan out, I guess I’m equipped for a life of crime.

  5. I have a question about the official translator requirement. What do you mean by official? Does this simply mean that the translator is licensed to be a French or German translator by the professional translation body or organization of his or her state?

    Also, yes, I would be very interested in seeing the check list that of documents to bring to Luxembourg that Matt mentions above.


  6. Here is the link for the company that did my wife’s fingerprints and FBI background check. It took less than 1 hour.

    In regards to the “official” translator. We found an ATA certified translator. That is the only certification widely accepted in the United States.

    Did anyone have the certified copy of your passport translated? My wife did. Just wondering if that is necessary. Thanks for your help.


  7. Randy,

    Thanks for your info on the certified / official translator. I assume then that if the translator is certified then there should be no problems. I am not in the U.S., so I have to look at what professional bodies certify translators in my province.

    I contacted both the French and Luxembourg Embassies and they replied saying that they do not keep lists of translators. I might have to use the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society that Matt used to find a certified translator for my documents.

  8. Is it necessary to get an FBI (vs. just the police department in town) criminal history check if you’ve only lived in one state officially (not counting a different state for univeristy years..) ? I called our local police department and they were talking about a “clearance letter” and an official criminal history check with finger prints. Im guessing I need to do the prints….?

  9. Also, how did you get the luxembourgish criminal record check/ and what is the note d’information? I am trying to gather all of these documents as quickly as possible so I can book a flight in the next couple of weeks!! Thank you in advance!!

  10. is it just the translation of the birth certificate that needs to be under 6 months old? or the birth certificate itself?.. Sorry for so many questions!!

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