The RCMP have recently changed the way they evaluate fingerprints while processing background check requests. These changes have increased the level of quality required for fingerprints to be deemed acceptable. Previously, fingerprints of moderate quality may have been flagged for manual handling by an officer, resulting in a slower, but often successful, request. Currently, fingerprints that are of insufficient quality will result in a name and date of birth criminal record search.
Unfortunately, the RCMP does not communicate to the applicant, or submitting agency, if a set of fingerprints cannot be processed due to insufficient quality. We will only learn whether or not a submission was successful when the results are returned, and that only occurs if we are required and authorized to open the package. While the RCMP has communicated that they are evaluating the impacts of this policy change, it is best to provide the highest quality fingerprints available.
Example of High Quality Fingerprints:
In preparation for having your fingerprints taken, avoid any tasks that may be harsh or abrasive to your fingers for as many days as possible. This can include activities such as manual labor or rock climbing; continuous exposure to hot water or handling hot objects; or exposure to strong chemical cleaners or other strong chemical substances.
If you are prone to dry skin, or have had trouble in the past with fingerprinting, you should apply a humectant moisturizer (we recommend glycerin based lotions) as necessary to maintain hydration. For those with slightly dry skin, the application of a humectant moisturizer immediately before fingerprinting may be enough to drastically improve the impression quality. Avoid using oil-based lotions, especially immediately before fingerprinting.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis there is unfortunately no easy chemical solution. You will likely require greater amount of time to complete a quality set of fingerprints, so if possible, inform the agency to be taking your fingerprints ahead of time to ensure this will be possible, or schedule a longer than normal appointment if appointments are available. Use of alcohol to dry out the hands does not usually do any good, though it has been helpful in rare cases. You may wish to bring a good quality absorbent hand towel from home, as low-quality paper towels may be the only thing available when having your fingerprints taken. The best way to get good fingerprints is through patience and wiping or dabbing your fingerprints to dry them between attempts.