Fingerprint vs. Name Based Background Checks

You may be wondering about the differences between Canada’s name and fingerprint based checks. It is important to understand what each provides to choose the check you need for your circumstances.

Name based searches are conducted by a local police agency. Fingerprint based searches are conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Both types of checks search the Canadian Repository of Criminal Records which is a federal database maintained by the RCMP. Both checks are Canada wide. Name based checks are often referred to as CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) checks. CPIC provides police agencies across Canada access to RCMP maintained criminal databases.

A name based check can either come back as Negative or Incomplete. As an applicant’s name and date of birth are not necessarily unique, no conviction information can be disclosed. If a record is found, a name based search will come back as Incomplete. Meaning the search was unable to determine no criminal record, but does not indicate there is a criminal record. In this case, a fingerprint submission must be made.

As an applicant’s fingerprints are unique. If a match is found to the applicants fingerprints, conviction records will be disclosed with the results. When a fingerprint match is found, the application is sent for manual review to ensure that the information being disclosed is accurate.

A fingerprint submission to the RCMP is the only way to receive a certified criminal record certificate from Canada.