Skip site navigation.
Skip section navigation.

IAFIS FAQs

Vendor Questions

Why is certification important?

Certification provides assurance to users of biometric collection systems that certified products meet or exceed minimum FBI interoperability standards and will work with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Information System (IAFIS). These standards ensure that the images used in the system are high quality and support all phases of identification for both fingerprint experts and the IAFIS.


What are the standards?

There are two standards currently in use for fingerprints: Appendix F and PIV-071006.

  • Appendix F has stringent image quality conditions, focusing on the human fingerprint comparison and facilitating large scale machine many-to-many matching operation.
  • PIV-071006 is a lower-level standard designed to support one-to-one fingerprint verification. Certification is available for devices intended for use in the FIPS 201 PIV program.


What device categories are certified?

Fingerprint printers, card scanners, and livescanners of multiple types can be certified, based upon the appropriate standards. In all cases, a certified unit is a configuration of specific hardware and driver/support sw optimized for usage with fingerprints.

Fingerprint Card Print Systems: Including software that generates 10-print cards of fingerprints, with sufficient image quality to support fingerprint identification/matching. Typical laser writer printing software does not meet the requirements.

Fingerprint Card Scanner. Certification is performed either with or without automatic document feed (ADF). Output resolution is within strict limits of either 500 ppi or 1000 ppi and the high image quality standards imposed by Appendix F apply.

There are multiple livescan categories, which differ in the required collection capabilities (single or multiple fingers, rollscan or flat, and dimensions of capture area) and the image quality required. All livescan devices are certified with or without a membrane, where "membrane" refers to a deformable substrate covering the finger platen.

  • 'Live-Scan' (Tenprint) System: Includes capability to collect all elements on a tenprint card, i.e. rollscans, plain thumb scans and 4-finger flats.
  • Identification Flats System: Includes capability to collect 4-finger and 2-thumb flat impressions in a 3.2 x 3.0 inch area.
  • PIV Single Finger: Includes capability to collect a single finger flat impression, with a minimum size limitation.
  • Mobile ID: Devices that can operate in a mobile environment. Only flat impressions are required. The category is sub-divided into several levels by fingerprint acquisition profile (FAP) number, based upon device capture dimensions, the image quality specification applied, and the number of simultaneous fingers that can be captured.

The following table summarizes the basic categories with overview information on the specification applied and types of images involved. See the specification documents themselves for exact details.

Certification Category Specification ~ Capture Dimension
(WxH inches)
Types of Prints collected
Fingerprint Printer Appendix F    
Fingerprint Card Scanner Appendix F 8 x 5  
Live-Scan (Tenprint) System Appendix F 1.6 x 1.5 roll
3.2 x 2.0 flat
Rolls, plain & 4-finger
Identification Flats Appendix F 3.2 x 3.0 4-4-2 flats
PIV Single Finger PIV-071006 0.5 x 0.65 1 finger flat
Mobile ID (see below)     # Simultaneous. flats
FAP 10 PIV-071006 0.5 x 0.65 1
FAP 20 PIV-071006 0.6 x 0.8 1
FAP 30 PIV-071006 0.8 x 1.0 1
FAP 40 PIV-071006 1.6 x 1.5 1-2
FAP 45 Appendix F 1.6 x 1.5 1-2
FAP 50 Appendix F 2.5 x 1.5 1-3
FAP 60 Appendix F 3.2 x 3.0 1-4

Extra capabilities such as palm capture require larger capture areas, but are only tested in conjunction with another category already on the list (e.g. Live-Scan, ID Flats or FAP 60).


What device configurations are eligible for Mobile ID certification?

Mobile ID devices operate in a mobile environment. Mobile ID devices operating in that environment may exhibit functionalities beyond those specified by their own set of requirements (Appendix F or PIV) based upon the Captured Dimensions referred to in the above table.

The following examples are currently found on the Certified Product List (CPL):

  • Mobile ID devices of FAP 45 and above which have been tested as capable of capturing optional rolled as well as plain fingerprints are labeled as such in the CPL with the wording “roll/plain” or “plain/roll”.
  • Mobile ID devices of FAP 45 and above can also be, upon request, tested for PIV certification (if they will be used in the FIPS 201 program). When successful, such devices meet both Appendix F (under the Mobile ID certification category) and PIV specifications. Requesting both certifications at the same time shortens the duration of the dual assessment when compared to two sequential requests.
  • Mobile ID devices of FAP 40 and below can request an independent PIV certification. Requesting both certifications at the same time shortens the duration of the dual assessment when compared to two sequential requests.
  • Mobile ID devices which are capable of transmitting minutia points in addition to transmitting images, but which offer a choice in sending either one, are only certified when the image transmission mode is selected, whereby the mention “when used for [fingerprint] image transmission.”
  • Mobile ID devices whose designs produce adequate images of impressions under the lighting conditions encountered in a windowless laboratory or office (approximately 500 lux), but whose quality drastically degrades below the point of usefulness under intense lighting conditions (at least 90,000 lux), are likely to receive the mention “not appropriate for use in direct sunlight.”

How do I get started?

Download and read a copy of the relevant standards and testing procedures documents (5MB). Obtain test targets and perform internal testing to see if device is capable of meeting the specifications. A TestTools CD is available with software for checking many of the requirements. If there is any question on targets or test target collection, discuss the test protocol with the testing agency. When satisfied that the configuration is of sufficient quality for certification, submit test images.


How long does it take?

1-2 months from original receipt of the test data, assuming there are no substantial problems.


How can I check on the status of my product?

A confirmation email is sent when test data is received. Other than communication with questions or problems, there are no status reports until a certification letter is issued. If you believe there is a problem communicate with the FBI or the testing group.


How will I be notified if there are problems?

You will receive an email from the testing group.


How will I notified if my product is certified?

You will receive an official certification letter from the FBI. The web-site will eventually be updated with the information as well.


Are there any caveats?

A card scanner is not certified for use with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) unless specifically stated "with ADF." A certified card scanner is a configuration of a specific scanner and driver/support software optimized for fingerprint scanning.

A print system is a certified configuration of a printer and fingerprint printing algorithm implemented in software or a combination of software/firmware/hardware.


How can I get help?

MITRE makes several tools developed for CPL testing publicly available online. A larger set of tools covering almost all the certification tests is available on request to vendors who will be testing for certification. Click here to go to the MITRE site. http://www.mitre.org/tech/mtf/


How can I add my URL and an image of my certified product to the BioSpecs page?

Vendors may submit an image of the Certified Product to IAFISproducts@brtrc.com for inclusion on the CPL listing on BioSpecs. The image must only be of the FBI Certified product; in JPG or GIF format; include company name and product name; and be resizeable to a max of 500 x 500. BioSpecs cannot be responsible for image clarity. Vendors are also welcome to provide a single firm URL and/or a product URL.

Please be sure to clearly indicate the specific product associated with the image.


What if my company’s name has changed?

Since the beginning of the FBI’s Product Certification Program, a considerable number of changes have occurred due to mergers, buy-outs, or name changes of listed companies. The product certification remains in effect for the product as tested regardless of changes in the company’s name, structure, or ownership. The normal procedure is to leave the company’s name unchanged on both the original certification letter and the IAFIS Certified Products List. Consequently, certification letters are generally not reissued, as all FBI certifications obtained prior to merger, acquisition, or name change survive in place and will automatically transfer.

End User Questions


Why is certification important?

Certification provides assurance to users of biometric collection systems that certified products meet or exceed minimum FBI interoperability standards and will work with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Information System (IAFIS). These specifications ensure that the images used in the system are high quality and support all phases of identification for both fingerprint experts and the IAFIS.


How can I find what I need?

The web-site search tools can help you narrow the list to configurations which match your program requirements. Note, that only basic capabilities and assurance of image quality certification are included in this list. For example, both half-palm and full palm capabilities are indicated as ‘palm’. The user is expected to do adequate research to ensure a product meets their end needs.


Does the FBI recommend any particular product?

No, the FBI does not recommend any particular product. Law enforcement programs may have requirements for an image quality spec (say Appendix F) or capabilities (1000 ppi or ADF) which restrict the number of relevant products, but individual products are not recommended.


What else should be considered when choosing a device from the Certified Product List (CPL)?

A certified unit corresponds to a specific combination of hardware and software configured together to deliver images of impressions that are palatable to both examiners and IAFIS/NGI. The conditions under which such images are generated during certification tests are almost ideal because it would be both onerous and costly for vendors to replicate all conditions under which end users may use their products. Therefore, end users are encouraged to consider the following discussion topics with vendors, topics that are among those not covered by IQS certification (this list is by no means comprehensive):

  • Research the hardware and software architecture into which the device would be integrated, including connectivity (in addition to electrical compatibility, one should ask vendors about device drivers, especially with aging architectures).
  • Research the security rules (Information Assurance) that are applicable to the architecture, including devices which communicate with and/or connect to it.
  • Articulate a range of intended operating conditions under which the device would be used (for instance: outdoor environmental conditions for Mobile ID devices; livescanners placed behind a window exposed southward; inmates with tattoos over their fingers/palms; or that end users should have at least one hand available during the entire capture process).

What is the difference between the specifications?

  • Appendix F has the most stringent image quality conditions, focusing on the human fingerprint comparison and facilitating large scale machine many-to-many matching operation.
  • PIV-071006 is a lower-level standard designed to support one-to-one fingerprint verification.
  • Appendix G is a deprecated standard that has not been tested against since 1999. It is of lower quality than Appendix F, and is missing some requirements present in PIV-071006.


What is the difference between all the livescan categories?

There are multiple livescan categories, which differ in the required collection capabilities (single or multiple fingers, rollscan or flat, and dimensions of capture area) and the image quality required. All livescan devices are certified with or without a membrane, where "membrane" refers to a deformable substrate covering the finger platen.

  • 'Live-Scan' (Tenprint) System: Includes capability to collect all elements on a tenprint card, i.e. rollscans, plain thumb scans and 4-finger flats.
  • Identification Flats System: Includes capability to collect 4-finger and 2-thumb flat impressions in a 3.2 x 3.0 inch area.
  • PIV Single Finger: Includes capability to collect a single finger flat impression, with a minimum size limitation.
  • Mobile ID: Devices that can operate in a mobile environment. Only flat impressions are required. The category is sub-divided into several levels by fingerprint acquisition profile (FAP) number, based upon device capture dimensions, the image quality specification applied, and the number of simultaneous fingers that can be captured.

The following table summarizes the basic categories with overview information on the specification applied and types of images involved. See the specification documents themselves for exact details.

Certification Category Specification ~ Capture Dimension
(WxH inches)
Types of Prints collected
Fingerprint Printer Appendix F    
Fingerprint Card Scanner Appendix F 8 x 5  
Live-Scan (Tenprint) System Appendix F 1.6 x 1.5 roll
3.2 x 2.0 flat
Rolls, plain & 4-finger
Identification Flats Appendix F 3.2 x 3.0 4-4-2 flats
PIV Single Finger PIV-071006 0.5 x 0.65 1 finger flat
Mobile ID (see below)     # Simultaneous. flats
FAP 10 PIV-071006 0.5 x 0.65 1
FAP 20 PIV-071006 0.6 x 0.8 1
FAP 30 PIV-071006 0.8 x 1.0 1
FAP 40 PIV-071006 1.6 x 1.5 1-2
FAP 45 Appendix F 1.6 x 1.5 1-2
FAP 50 Appendix F 2.5 x 1.5 1-3
FAP 60 Appendix F 3.2 x 3.0 1-4

Extra capabilities such as palm capture require larger capture areas, but are only tested in conjunction with another category already on the list (e.g. Live-Scan, ID Flats or FAP 60).


What should I be aware of?

Before buying COTS devices, realize that it is the combination of scanner and specific driver/support software, or printer and specific printing algorithm that is certified.

A card scanner is not certified for use with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) unless specifically stated "with ADF." A certified card scanner is a configuration of a specific scanner and driver/support software optimized for fingerprint scanning.

A print system is a certified configuration of a printer and fingerprint printing algorithm implemented in software or a combination of software/firmware/hardware.


What does 'series' mean in the printer listings?

Printer manufacturers offer many configurations around a base model. In general, the term series is intended to certify the base model and these configurations as long as they preserve the image quality delivered by the base model. Specifically, configurations denoted by suffixes such as 'dn', 'dtn', 'n', 'tn', 'dw', '/B', '/N', '/DT', '/DX', 'D', and 'DN' are all certified. However, a numerical change to the name of a base model is excluded. For example, the Xerox Phaser 4500 series encompasses the 4500/B, 4500/N, 4500/DT, and 4500/DX, but not the Xerox Phaser 4510. Due to the prevalence of such configurations, the term series as defined herein is implicit in the certified printer listings which do not mention it.


What does 'duplex' mean in the card scanner listings?

This term is used to distinguish card scanners capable of simultaneously capturing both sides of a card in one pass from those which capture a single side. Both imagers of certified duplex card scanners are independently tested and certified.