Here is the web site for obtaining a personal FBI criminal background check: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks
Here is the specific information on making a request: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/submitting-an-identification-record-request-to-the-fbi
Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information Form.
- If the request is for a couple, family, etc., all persons must sign the form.
- Include your complete mailing address. Please provide your telephone number and/or e-mail address, if available.
Step 2: Obtain a set of your fingerprints.
- Provide the original fingerprint card. Previously processed cards or copies will not be accepted.
- Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card. Fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes.
- Include rolled impressions of all 10 fingerprints and impressions of all 10 fingerprints taken simultaneously (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions).
- If possible, have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. This service may be available at a law enforcement agency.
- To ensure the most legible prints possible, refer to the Recording Legible Fingerprints brochure.
Step 3: Submit payment.
- Option 1: Obtain a money order or cashier’s check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure to sign where required.
- Option 2: Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form. Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.
- Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted.
- Payment must be for the exact amount.
- If the request is for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person.
- If the request is for multiple copies per person, include $18 for each copy requested.
Step 4: Review the FBI Identification Record Request Checklist to ensure that you have included everything needed to process your request.
Step 5: Mail the required items listed above—signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 U.S. dollars for each person or copy requested—to the following address:
FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
Note: Although the FBI employs the most efficient methods for processing these requests, processing times may take approximately eight weeks depending on the volume of requests received.
Update 22 Mar 2012
I called the FBI today to ask about the specific procedure. After calling the central FBI office, they gave me the telephone number for their WV office that handles background checks (1-304-625-2000).
They first pointed me to the web site I had found earlier doing a google search: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks
You need to follow the instructions to "Submit your request directly to the FBI" which links to this page: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/submitting-an-identification-record-request-to-the-fbi
You need to fill out the application. Easy enough.
There is a specific finger print form on the FBI web site (FD-258), with a link right from the above page. They said that it can be printed out on regular printer paper.
They did say to make sure it was filled out exactly right.
You can (and should) get your prints done by a local police department. In Nashville, they charge $9 for the first set and $1 each for any additional sets. The person seemed to suggest to bring both a filled out form and a blank form in case the police want to fill in the information themselves. The police will (well, should) check ID when they do the prints.
Once you have the application, finger prints, and payment, you send everything in and get the background check back. I didn't ask how long it normally took. From reading other posts elsewhere, I gather that background checks like this "expire" so you don't want to get them too soon in the process. I read someplace that they're only valid for something like 6 months.
For a jure matrimoni application, you likely need to get the FBI background check apostilled. So it's critical that you include another piece of paper that explains why you need the background check authenticated and apostilled. And they recommended also writing at the top of the application that you need it authenticated so that it can be apostilled clearly.
They made a clear distinction between having it "authenticated", which apparently means the FBI affixing a seal or a signature to the document (kind of like what NARA does on census records perhaps), and having it apostilled, which must be done by the US Department of State.
To get the FBI background check apostilled (which the US Department of State called "authentication"), I first called the federal government information hotline at 1-800-333-4636. They gave me this web site: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/
They said to make sure you include a cover letter with your name, phone, mailing address, email, etc. and the country that the document is being used in. They also recommended using FED-EX or UPS – not the US Postal Service – because USPS mail to the State Department apparently needs to be screened and can delay the mail by several weeks (for some reason, FED-EX and UPS don't go through the same screening process).
They said it should take about 10 business days to have the FBI background check apostilled/authenticated by the State Department.