Special Topics & Resources

Unclassified fingerprints

Published On: September 5, 2019

How do I get a police clearance if my fingerprints are unclassified?  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); 
  • Not enough ink placed on the fingertips (fingerprint too light).


  • 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 hands when being fingerprinted. Be sure to let the technician do all the work.  Even relax your wrists.  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


Your fingerprints may be of such poor quality that electronic fingerprinting won’t
work for you.  If this is the case, your only option is as follows:

  • You will need to be digitally fingerprinted first.
  • If the agent is having a hard time getting good fingerprints, ask if a more senior fingerprint technician is available. 
  • If there are physical reasons your fingerprints are not being recognized (ie. lots of wrinkles, scars, etc.), it does not matter how good the technician is—it will
    be impossible to take good fingerprints.  The objective is to try and get as many good prints as possible from at least half of your fingers. 
  • If your fingerprints have been rejected, prior to getting re-fingerprinted, see if you can make improvements to the quality of your fingerprints using the suggestions above.
  • If the fingerprint technician is certain that better fingerprints cannot be taken,
    then follow the instructions below.


The fingerprint technician must provide the following to the RCMP:

  • at least one copy of the attempted live scan fingerprints which were rejected by the system if possible, or a dated letter explaining why the fingerprints could not be processed or submitted electronically (necessary proof that the live scan
    attempt was made);
  • two full sets of ink fingerprints;
  • proof of payment of the $25 RCMP fee or Money Order payable to “Receiver General”;
  • a photocopy of suitable identification; and
  • a document control number from the electronic submission that was rejected.

All three sets of fingerprints (two ink sets and one digital set) must be signed by
the applicant and fingerprint agency.  Our total fee for unclassified fingerprints is $95.00 plus $25 RCMP Fee (if applicable) + GST as a result of the extra fingerprints and time taken by our agents to assist you.   We then submit the entire package to:

The Commissioner, RCMP
Identification Services, CCRTIS

Room 402 – NPS Bldg 
1200 Vanier Parkway
Ottawa, On
K1A 0R2

If there is a DCN number, then the $25 RCMP fee will automatically be billed to the Fingerprint Agency and does not have to be submitted again.  The RCMP should be notified of the DCN number and the fact that their fee of $25.00, if applicable, has already been charged.


Here is information on Recording Legible Fingerprints.


How to get an FBI background check with unclassified fingerprints:


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