Criminal and Vital Records

Please note: The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the entities or individuals whose names appear on the following lists. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department or the U.S. government. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information on the list is provided directly by the local service providers; the Department is not in a position to vouch for such information.

U.S. citizens may be asked to present a “certificate of good conduct” or “lack of a criminal record” for a variety of reasons for use abroad including applications for Chinese visas or residence permits, adoption, school attendance, employment, etc. U.S. law enforcement authorities may not be familiar with such a procedure since it is not commonly requested in the United States. There are a variety of options available to U.S. citizens seeking to obtain proof of their lack of a criminal record, and you should check with the requesting entity what type of record they are seeking.

Local Police Check: Contact your local police department where you last resided in the United States, request that the police conduct a criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record. Local police departments may require your personal appearance in order to conduct the search. Alternatively, some local police departments may allow a friend or relative to obtain the report on your behalf with a Power of Attorney.  If you need to do a Power of Attorney, you can make a notarial appointment with American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

FBI Records Check: The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) centralizes criminal justice information and provides accurate and timely information and services to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, the private sector, academia, and other government agencies. The subject of an identification record may obtain a copy thereof by submitting a written request to the CJIS. The request must be accompanied by satisfactory proof of identity (consisting of name, date and place of birth, and a set of roll-inked fingerprint impressions) and a certified check or money order for the $18 processing fee. The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record. Requests should be directed to FBI CJIS Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Rd., Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306. Tel: 001 (304) 625-3878; Fax: 001 (304) 625-5102. If there is no criminal record, a report reflecting this fact is provided.

Notarizing Documents for Submission to Chinese Authorities: Some U.S. citizens have successfully submitted affidavits executed at the Embassy or Consulates General to the Chinese government as evidence of no criminal record for immigration purposes. However, as we understand, the Chinese government will no longer accept those documents for immigration purposes. However, if you decide you still wish to pursue this route, please make an appointment with American Citizen Services for a notarial service. Please note that the Embassy or Consulates General cannot guarantee that submitting the affidavit will provide the desired outcome.

Additional Information:

Authentication of Police or FBI Certificates for Lack of a Criminal Record: Documents required for use abroad may require additional authentication after you obtain the local police seal or FBI certificate. See our guidance on authentication or legalization of documents.

Please also see here (PDF 205 KB) for more information on whether the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or the State Department in Washington, D.C. is the appropriate authority for your authentication request.

Getting Your Fingerprints TakenFingerprint Identification: An Overview.
If fingerprints are required, U.S. citizens should be able to obtain fingerprint cards from their local police departments. U.S. Embassies and consulates do not provide this service. You may contact local Chinese organizations for fingerprinting services (149KB).  This information is provided for reference only and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.

 

The Embassy and Consulates keep no files of the different documents we issue, such as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), or documents dealing with the death of a U.S. citizen in China. These records are instead filed in Washington, D.C. We also do not keep any files of Chinese civil documents, such as records of marriages and divorces in China. These records are held by the Chinese government. Other records, such as birth certificates for people born in the United States, are stored in the state of origin.

This page is designed to help you locate the vital record documents you need. The Embassy and Consulates cannot obtain documents on your behalf, and cannot provide translations of documents issued in China.

Documents that Must Be Ordered from the Department of State in Washington

Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
A document issued by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate reflecting the facts of a birth abroad of a child acquiring U.S. citizenship at birth through one or both parents. This record, also known as an FS-240, along with the Certification of Birth, DS-1350, are acceptable as proof of birth and U.S. citizenship for all legal purposes.

Please go to the State Department’s web page on consular records for complete details on obtaining a copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).

Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad (ROD)
A document issued by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate reflecting the facts of a death abroad of a U.S. citizen. The document is based upon the local death certificate.

Please go to the State Department’s web page on consular records for complete details on obtaining a copy of a Report of Death (ROD) of an American citizen.

Vital Records are documents such as birth, death or marriage certificates. In the U.S., such records are usually held by state, county or city governments, depending on location. Here is some information to assist you in obtaining copies of such records.

Follow this link for an on-line source of more information about obtaining vital records in the U.S., such as birth certificates.

There are also on-line services that will help you obtain records for a fee.

One such service is VitalChek (800-255-2414), which allows you to request birth, death, and marriage certifications online, by phone, or by fax.

Another service called usbirthcertificate.net can help you obtain or amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, in addition to obtaining a birth certificate. You must have a physical street address to use this service (no APO’s, FPO’s, or PO Boxes).