As a broker-dealer compliance company, we are often consulted about the process of submitting fingerprints for FINRA approval.

Who Needs to Be Fingerprinted?

Section 17f-2 of the Securities Exchange Act (SEA) of 1934 states that that “every member of a national securities exchange, broker, dealer, registered transfer agent, registered clearing agency, registered securities information processor, national securities exchange, andnational securities association shall require that each of its partners, directors, officers, and employees be fingerprinted.” Therefore, the following types of employees are exempt:

  • employees who do not sell securities;
  • employees who do not regularly have access to the keeping, handling, or processing of securities, monies, or the original books and records relating to the securities or monies; and
  • employees who do not have direct supervisory responsibility over those who sell securities or over those who have access to securities, monies, or the original books and records.

Submitting Fingerprints

Broker-dealers submitting fingerprints to FINRA may do so either through the mail or through an electronic fingerprinting service. Traditionally, FINRA member firms have submitted fingerprints by physically mailing fingerprint cards to FINRA. However, firms now have the option of electronically submitting fingerprints. Since fingerprints must be received by FINRA within 30 days of filing a U4 in WebCRD, many firms have started using electronic fingerprint submission to ensure FINRA receives fingerprints by the deadline.

Firms may also check the status of fingerprint submissions via WebCRD.

Electronic Fingerprints

To get set up for electronic fingerprinting, FINRA member firms should select a fingerprint vendor from the list of certified electronic fingerprint submission (EFS) vendors. After entering into a contract with the vendor, firms must complete and submit the Broker-Dealer Participant Agreement to FINRA. The agreement grants permission for the certified EFS vendor to send electronic fingerprints to FINRA on the firm’s behalf.

Fingerprint Cards

If submitting physical fingerprint cards, firms must ensure that the firm name, address, and Org ID number are located on the card. Additionally, the following information is needed for the individual being fingerprinted:

  • Name
  • CRD Number (if applicable)
  • Social Security Number (if applicable)
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Hair Color
  • Eye Color

Hair color and eye color must be indicated using the approved abbreviations. Leaving off this mandatory information is a common reason for fingerprint cards to be returned to the firm un-processed.

The fingerprint card must also be signed by both the person being fingerprinted and the official taking the fingerprints.

Illegible Fingerprints

Occasionally, fingerprints may be deemed illegible by the FBI. This can happen for a number of reasons. Firms may need to submit up to three sets of fingerprints if the results are returned as illegible. However, this does not mean a firm can expedite the process by submitting all three sets of fingerprints at once. FINRA will not accept duplicate sets of fingerprints submitted for the same individual at the same time.

More information, including where to mail paper fingerprint cards, can be found on the Fingerprints page of the FINRA website.