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How to reduce the risk your fingerprints will be rejected

Published On: September 5, 2019

Good Fingerprints

Let’s begin by illustrating what a GOOD FINGERPRINT looks like.  It is important that the center of the loop (circles) and the deltas (triangles) are legible.

Bad Fingerprints

Look below for fingerprints that would be rejected (unsuitable for conducting a criminal record background check).   Reasons, why fingerprints are rejected, include:

  • Pressed too lightly.  (1)
  • Pressed too hard. (2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9)
  • Too much ink (may not be an issue if you don’t press too hard). (2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9)
  • Not enough ink covering entire fingertip (3, 7)
  • Fingertip to warm/sweaty. (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  • Fingertip too dry. (7)
  • Center loop and/or Deltas not legible. (All of them)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Question:  Does each fingerprint need to be legible when requesting a background check in Canada?

Answer:  No.  However, to reduce the risk of rejection, it is useful if over half of all fingerprints are legible.

Question:  What do I do if my fingerprints are unclassified (i.e. it is impossible to obtain fingerprints that are legible)?

Answer:  Check the following blog:  Unclassified Fingerprints

Tips on How to Reduce the Risk Your Fingerprints will be Rejected

There are many reasons why your fingerprints may be of poor quality or unclassified.  They include:


  • You have lots of wrinkles;
  • Your fingerprint ridges are worn due to the type of work that you do;
  • Your fingerprints are illegible due to medical condition;
  • Your hands are very sweaty and cause your fingerprints to smudge easily;
  • Your hands are very dry;
  • Due to deformity, it was difficult to take clear fingerprints; or
  • You have scars or missing fingers.


  • Not enough pressure was applied (fingerprint too light);
  • Too much pressure was applied (causing smudging);
  • The fingerprint agent only took partial fingerprints (e.g. did not roll enough left to right); or
  • Not enough ink was placed on the fingertips (fingerprint too light).
  • Too much ink was placed on the fingertips (fingerprint too dark).


  • If you have lots of wrinkles, worn ridges or dry hands, moisturize a lot before your appointment.
  • You can even apply a generous amount of moisturizing cream to your hands before bed and sleep with gloves on to allow the moisturizer to absorb throughout the night.  
  • Mix sugar with moisturizing cream to add a bit of texture and massage your fingerprints gently.
  • If your hands are sweaty, wipe them frequently while being fingerprinted.  You can even cool them down in cold water or hold onto an icepack before being fingerprinted. But, be sure your hands are not wet when being fingerprinted.
  • If your hands are sweaty, use a rag to dry your fingertips frequently while you are being fingerprinted.
  • If you are tense, try and relax your fingers and wrist when being fingerprinted. Be sure to let the technician do all the work.  If you are having a hard time relaxing, practice taking fingerprints a few times before you start having your fingerprints placed on the fingerprint form.
  • If your fingerprints are hard to take, be sure to ask for a senior fingerprint technician.

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