How does the fingerprinting process work for Criminal Record checks?

When you apply for a Criminal Record or Vulnerable Sector (VS) check, you may be required to give the police service or an accredited fingerprinting company a copy of your fingerprints. The fingerprints are only used by the RCMP to confirm your identity. After completion of service, they are destroyed. They are not kept nor searched for other purposes.

Electronic fingerprint technology

When you need a Criminal Record check or a Vulnerable Sector check, you must submit your fingerprints electronically, which ensures more accurate Criminal Record checks and dramatically reduces the amount of time required to complete the check.

Fingerprint-based Criminal Record checks greatly reduce the risks of people being wrongly associated to a Criminal Record for someone with a similar name. It also reduces risks of error by ensuring accuracy of Criminal Record checks.

Submitting fingerprints electronically for civil purposes is easy and convenient. You simply have to visit an accredited company or a police service with an electronic submission device to have your fingerprints taken. In most cases, it is not even necessary to take rolled fingerprints with ink as we used to, you simply put your hand on the scanner and you're done!

The technology allowing electronic submission is now widely available in Canada and effective July 1, 2014, your fingerprints must be submitted electronically, using either LiveScan or CardScan technologies.

LiveScan devices

LiveScan devices replace ink and paper with all electronic processes. Instead of putting ink on your fingers and rolling them on paper, your fingers are scanned electronically. All of the information that is required to process your application is entered onto the computer, so you don't need to fill in a form anymore.

Consent forms are displayed on a computer screen. If you approve them, instead of signing a paper document, you give consent by placing a finger on the scanner.


It is not currently possible to submit fingerprints electronically from outside of Canada. You must contact accredited companies within Canada who will digitize ink fingerprints and submit them electronically.

Many police services have the ability to receive some results of your Criminal Record check electronically. In most of these cases, the fingerprint part of the Criminal Record or Vulnerable Sector check can be completed in minutes. The police service will require extra time to complete other parts of the checks and to prepare the documents that report the results of your Criminal Record or Vulnerable Sector check.

Police services that do not have LiveScan can refer applicants to accredited private fingerprinting companies or other partners to take fingerprints on their behalf.

CardScan devices

Some police services and companies do not have access to LiveScan devices. In these cases, they will take your fingerprints using ink and paper. You may be required to sign paper consent forms. The paper fingerprint and consent forms will be scanned and converted to electronic submissions. The submissions will then be sent for processing.

This is the process that must be used by people submitting fingerprints from outside of Canada when they submit their paper fingerprints to an accredited company.

My fingerprints cannot be taken electronically

A very small number of people have fingerprints that cannot be processed electronically, for various reasons. If that is your case, the police service or accredited fingerprinting company will try to capture your fingerprints electronically. If the LiveScan device cannot process them, the police service will submit a paper copy of your fingerprints for processing with the following:

  • A note explaining that the fingerprints could not be processed electronically; and
  • The document control number from the electronic submission that was rejected.
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