Electronic Fingerprint Submission - FAQ

Getting Started


Q1: What are the first steps to begin submitting fingerprints electronically to FINRA?
A1: First your firm should select a fingerprint vendor from the list of FINRA Certified Vendors. Once your firm has a contract in place with the vendor, please complete and submit the Broker-Dealer Participant Agreement. Once FINRA receives the signed, hard copy agreement, the contact listed on the agreement will receive instructions so your firm may begin submitting electronic fingerprints and discuss next steps.
Q2: What is a Broker-Dealer Participant Agreement?
A2: FINRA requires a Broker-Dealer Participant Agreement for a firm to participate in electronic fingerprinting. The agreement grants permission to a certified EFS vendor, so it may transmit electronic fingerprints to FINRA on the firm's behalf.
Q3: Who is an "Authorized Agent" for the firm?
A3: The 'Authorized Agent' is the vendor contracted by the firm to submit electronic fingerprints on the firm's behalf.
Q4: What happens if I switch vendors?
A4: Once your firm has contracted a new or additional vendor, please email the efscoordinator@finra.org and provide the vendor information. In addition, a new Broker-Dealer Participant Agreement will need to be mailed in to FINRA.

Understanding the Certificate


Q1: What is a Secure Email Certificate and how does it work?
A1: Secure Email Certificates allow you to digitally sign and encrypt emails. Certificate encryption requires that both the firm or vendor and FINRA use their certificate's public key to achieve a secure two-way communication. In doing so, this allows you to transmit fingerprint data in an encrypted fashion. The certificate needs to include the email address that will transmit fingerprint cards to FINRA and not a personal email address.
Q2: What Certificate do I send to FINRA?
A2: You must send FINRA your firm's public certificate to FINRA for secure communication.
Q3: How do I renew or purchase a new Certificate?
A3: Visit the Entrust website to enroll and purchase new or renewed Entrust Digital IDs.
Q4: What happens if the email that is being used to transmit fingerprints changes?
A4: Any change to your email address requires the purchase of a new certificate. After purchasing the new certificate, contact FINRA at efscoordinator@finra.org to coordinate the next steps.
Q5: My firm includes a disclaimer to all outgoing emails. Does the disclaimer need to be removed from emails prior to transmitting fingerprints to FINRA?
A5: Yes, you must remove the disclaimer from the emails that transmit fingerprints to FINRA. If a disclaimer is included in the email, FINRA will be unable to process the fingerprints.
Q6: How long does it take for FINRA to install new/renewed certificates?
A6: It takes 2-3 business days for FINRA to install certificates; however, we ask that certificates be emailed to efscoordinator@finra.org at least one week prior to the current certificate expiration date. FINRA staff will coordinate installation of the certificate. Note: FINRA only requires your certificates public key; never send your firm's private key.
Q7: Can one certificate be used in both the testing and production environments?
A7: Yes, FINRA will use your firm's certificate for both testing and production.
Q8: Can my firm's certificate email address be in mixed case?
A8: No, the certificate email address must be in all lower-case.

Submitting Fingerprints


Q1: What are the allowed values for Citizenship, Place of Birth, Eye Color, and Hair Color?
A1: For resources on the above code values reference the FBI's NCIC Guidelines and NCIC Code Manual.
Q2: What are the Height and Weight ranges?
A2: For resources on Height and Weight ranges reference the FBI NCIC Guidelines.
Q3: How do I annotate amputated or bandaged prints?
A3: Use the code 'XX' for amputated or bandaged digits, or 'UP' for unprintable digits. Records for individuals, who have all ten fingers amputated, bandaged, or unprintable, may not be sent via electronic submission. FINRA has a separate process for these cases and you can contact our Gateway Call Center at (301) 590-6500 for assistance.
Q4: How do I obtain barcodes?
A4: Contact Media Source in FINRA's Call Center at (240) 386-4200 to obtain barcodes in either sticker or softcopy format.
Q5: When is SSN required to submit fingerprints to FINRA?
A5: A SSN or a CRD Number is required for any person with a Place of Birth within the United States.

Fingerprint Results


Q1: What is the turnaround time for fingerprint results?
A1: The turnaround time for results for fingerprints submitted electronically is 24-72 hours, although most prints will come back within 24 hours.
Q2: Why are some fingerprints returned as illegible?
A2: Fingerprints may be deemed illegible by the FBI for a number of reasons. For example, if the individual's ridges of their fingerprints are worn down and difficult to capture, their prints may be illegible.
Q3. How do I find out if my card was processed?
A3: Entitled firm users of Web CRD can view the Fingerprint Queues, including the Fingerprint Status Received from FBI queue. Please see the Firm Queues for Individuals User Guide for details.
If there is an error in processing your electronic fingerprints, FINRA will send an automated notification to the email address provided on your certificate to identify the field(s) to correct.
Q4: Does FINRA provide email responses when fingerprints are received?
A4: FINRA does not provide email responses for successfully received and processed fingerprints. FINRA does send automated emails to firms when fingerprints are rejected by the EFS system.
Q5: What happens to fingerprints after they have been submitted to FINRA?
A5: FINRA transmits the fingerprints to the FBI. The FBI processes the fingerprints and returns to FINRA any information contained in its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). FINRA records receipt and disposition details in Web CRD to assist firms in the securities registration and licensing process.
Q6: How do I manage fingerprint requirements for registered individuals?
A6: Web CRD provides entitled firm users access to fingerprint reports and queues. Reference the Web CRD Quick Reference Guide on Electronic Fingerprint Processing.