Expedited FBI Background Checks: The 1 Key Difference

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 8, 2024

FBI agent running with magnifying glass to complete an expedited FBI background check quickly.

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As the name suggests, an expedited FBI background check will provide results faster than a standard FBI check. You can get the results of an expedited FBI background check in as little as twenty-four hours after you submit the application. But the long answer is, it depends. The process works well when you’re trying to get sensitive information on someone you might want to hire or work with for any purpose.

But how does the expedited check work, and how does it manage to go so fast compared to a traditional check? You’ll find out in this brief guide that there’s one significant difference that makes an expedited check so efficient.

How Long Does an FBI Background Check Take Normally?

You might ask about the duration of an FBI background check, especially when you need info on someone right away. You’ll require a check when looking for someone who can work for your business, especially if it entails working with sensitive data or with people who need special care.

An image showing a person's hands collecting fingerprints on a fingerprint record sheet.

An average FBI background check will take about twelve to fourteen weeks to complete (a screening for security clearance will take even longer). You’d have to submit the info on the person directly to the FBI. The process involves four steps:

  1. You’ll have to download and complete an application form from the FBI website.3
  2. You would also require a current fingerprint card from the person you are reviewing.2

The fingerprint card will include all of the person’s fingerprints. It must be updated, and it can be done through a professional’s assistance as necessary. You can contact a local law enforcement branch to find someone who can assist in the process.

  1. All people involved with the background check must sign off on the process.

This includes both whoever is collecting the data and the person who is submitting one’s fingerprints. Both parties are needed to confirm that the person being investigated has consented to the review process.

  1. A payment is also necessary. You’ll require a Credit Card Payment Form from the FBI to cover the $18 cost for each person.1 You could also send a check for $18 that is payable to the Treasury of the United States.

Why Is an Expedited FBI Background Check Quicker?

Waiting three months or more for the results of your FBI background check can be frustrating, but an expedited review can take as little as twenty-four hours to complete. It can take up to three to seven days for an expedited check to go through, but the timeframe is much easier to manage than if you are stuck with a more traditional route.

An image showing a detailed fingerprint displayed on a digital screen.

The reason for this point is that an expedited FBI background check will go through a channeler. The channeler will help you bypass the process of physical fingerprinting.

A channeler is a third-party group that can collect fingerprint data for an expedited check process. The channeler is an outside contractor that works on behalf of an Authorized Recipient like you.

How Long Does It Take To Get FBI Fingerprint Results With a Channeler? (How the Process Works)

The channeler uses a few steps to ensure the process moves forward well:

  1. As the Authorized Recipient, you will continue to provide the proper application content. These details include the fingerprint data and the application the FBI will receive.
  2. The channeler will receive the fingerprint data and other relevant content from your file.
  3. You will pay the appropriate fee for the channeler’s services. The fee is traditionally around $50 per person, although the total will vary by party.
  4. The channeler then electronically forwards the fingerprint data to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.
  5. The CJIS Division then completes an Identity History Summary check.
  6. The channeler will receive the results from the CJIS after the search is complete.
  7. You will then receive the results from the channeler.

As the Authorized Recipient, the channeler will confirm that you’re the one who will receive the necessary information through the background check. You will get the proper response after the channeler gets the data from the FBI.

The channeler you use must be approved by the FBI for operation. The FBI has a listing of authorized channelers who can help with the process.4 You can contact any of these parties either online or by phone.

The efficient FBI background check processing time is possible through the channeler’s work. However many channelers can develop substantial backlogs that can make it tough for you to get your data within a day. It can take as long as a week for you to get your expedited check results. But the amount of time you’ll save in the process will still be worthwhile.

What Does an FBI Background Check Consist Of?

You can find information on a person you wish to hire for a government agency through an FBI background check. The results of a background investigation done by the FBI are very thorough and considered one of the main forms of extensive background screenings.

It will include info on one’s criminal record. It covers all felony and misdemeanor charges. An FBI background check will even show these records if they have been sealed or expunged, or if they include convictions as a minor.

The report lists concerns surrounding a person and can help you identify if someone is worth hiring. The details also list whether someone is trustworthy enough to handle sensitive bits of data that will go through the workplace.

What Does an FBI Background Check Show?

The key part of an FBI background check is the Identity History Summary. This part of the expedited analysis is a complete review of data the FBI has on someone’s name. The review includes fingerprint data on a person and details on various factors:

  • Any warrants on that person
  • Sex offender status
  • A Biographic Set Identifier, which includes general descriptive info about the person
  • Any arrest charges one has held; these charges stay on one’s record for a total of seven years
  • Final dispositions on prior arrests, including court charges, case results, and any sentences or fines one held
  • Interim dispositions, like being in the middle of a drug recovery program or another point one must follow
  • Bankruptcies and other significant financial concerns
  • Whatever addresses or phone numbers are used on one’s tax forms
  • Additional court data surrounding prior appearances and other issues

An FBI check will rarely include details on parking or traffic violations or small fines. Anything more significant or concerning will appear on a record. The rules for this point may still vary by state.

Are All Checks About Criminal Records?

Not all records found in expedited FBI background checks will include criminal histories. Some reviews may also include details on:

  • Federal employment history
  • Naturalization records
  • Prior military service

A background check can confirm a person’s records, including whether that person has served in the military or if that person has been employed by the government in some form. You can use the FBI review to identify if someone has been involved with high-profile events or has been associated with sensitive data in the past. The reporting can help you make a smart decision on who you should hire.

Is This an FBI Level 1 or FBI Level 2 Screening? Understanding the Difference

An expedited FBI background check can work for either of these levels. It can also work for Level 3, which is for high-risk positions. But most businesses will likely need to work with a Level 1 or 2 screening process. Here’s a look at how these screening methods compare:

Level 1

A Level 1 check is for low-risk positions involving access to government facilities and computers. It includes checks on:

  • Nationalization records
  • Education and employment data
  • Information on residences in the past five years
  • SSN validity
  • Reports on prior criminal activities

Level 2

A Level 2 review is for mid-level positions with a slightly higher risk. It is for positions that require access to L-level information that might be confidential. The review process includes everything in a Level 1 check, plus it adds:

  • Financial history data
  • Information on foreign interests and associates
  • Any connections people have with foreign parties

Level 3

The Level 3 review process is for the highest-risk positions. These include ones that entail sensitive data and require access to Q-level information. The review covers everything in the first two levels, plus these:

  • Interviews with the subject in question
  • Additional interviews with employment supervisors
  • Civil court records
  • Details on any massive currency transactions one has made
  • Any foreign associations one holds
  • Whether there is an affluence of questions that needs further explanation

You will likely not have to hire someone who needs a Level 3 review. But you will still need to provide info on where someone will work when getting that person on board.

Who Can Conduct an FBI Background Check for Employment Purposes?

Not every party can conduct an FBI background check when hiring someone. You can only run a check if you are required by law to do so. You will likely be required to have a check if the person will be in touch with at-risk people or around significant amounts of money. Any situation where someone might be considered a risk to public safety could also be a time when someone will require a background check.

A few of the groups that can conduct FBI background checks for employment needs include:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Financial institutions
  • Public schools
  • Hospitals
  • Physical health clinics, including dental and chiropractic offices
  • Entities that handle large amounts of money, including banks and mortgage service providers
  • Airports
  • Entities that entail working around children, including caretaker services

Do Expunged Records Show Up on FBI Background Checks?

An expunged record could still show up on an FBI background check. Normally, an expunged record is one that was locked up or destroyed by law enforcement and isn’t available to view by the public.

Closeup screenshot of an FBI Expungement Form.

(Image: Federal Bureau of Investigation5)


But the expunged item could still appear on a check for many reasons:

  • A court didn’t make public all the info referring to the expungement of the record.
  • A background check group did not receive information on the expungement.
  • There might be confusion between parties over whether someone’s record needs clearing.

A person whose expunged records still appear on an FBI background check can dispute those results within thirty days. The applicant should not have to disclose info on any of these records, but there is still the risk that those records will remain on one’s file even after the expungement is complete.

Are Other Records Necessary When Considering FBI Background Check Processing Time?

An expedited FBI Background check can be helpful when you’re trying to find info on someone. But it should not be the only solution you use when finding details on anyone. There are a few other records you can review when getting information on someone:

An image showing a woman's face displayed on a high-tech digital security interface with fingerprint scans and ID matching.

  • County-level or state-level searches are available to help you find local records on someone.
  • You can review a person’s driving records to confirm if that person has engaged in any serious violations. Some states will list a DUI on their driving record as opposed to their criminal record, for instance.
  • You can also use a nationwide criminal database review to search for records of a person in places they don’t currently reside. The process works for people who might have lived in various areas around the country.

You can use these additional records at your discretion. The reporting here can be useful if you look well at what is open.

A Final Note About FBI Background Check Processing Time

All information you will receive from expedited FBI background checks will be critical to helping you decide on whether a new hire is trustworthy for your group. Whether it is someone in a government position or someone who will serve at-risk people, you must ensure your new hire is safe to support.

But be sure when getting an expedited check that you provide the proper information to the channeler who will support your work. Failing to complete the application effort will result in the review taking longer to complete. It could also come back to you for further edits, thus increasing the time needed to manage the task.

Be sure when getting a background check that you know what works. The process will work well if you have the right idea for how you will get information on someone to hire.


1Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2024). Credit Card Payment Form. FBI. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/idhsc-credit-card-payment-form.pdf/view>

2Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2024). Identity History Summary Request (FD-1164). FBI. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/fd-1164-identity-history-summary-request-110120.pdf/view>

3Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2024). Identity History Summary Request Form. FBI. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <https://forms.fbi.gov/identity-history-summary-checks-review/q384893984839334.pdf>

4Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2024). List of Approved Channelers. FBI. Retrieved May 1, 2024, from <https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/more-fbi-services-and-information/compact-council/list-of-approved-channelers>

5Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2024). FBI Expungement Form. FBI. Retrieved May 9, 2024 from <https://forms.fbi.gov/cjis-forms/fd-1114-fbi-expungement>

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