AFIS (THE AUTOMATED FINGERPRINT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM)

AFIS stands for “Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems“.

AFIS is a highly efficient and effective storage and processing system capable of scanning through large database of fingerprints and delivering possible fingerprint matches in a small amount of time.

It is a database searching tools that search enormous databases of fingerprint images and create lists of most likely contributors.

This system does not recognise fingerprints. That’s the responsibility of a certified Latent Print Examiner who has completed a thorough investigation, comparison, and evaluation of the prints.  A dactyloscopy expert must check and verify prints that match the AFIS database.


Criminal identification systems were first developed in the late nineteenth century. They were sparked by the groundbreaking discovery of the Henry System of fingerprint classification, which sorts fingerprints by physiological parameters and anthropometrics, also known as the Bertillon system, which takes measures from suspects and files them. In 1901, the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom began employing biometrics for identification. It was started in the United States by the New York police in 1902, and it was started in France by the police in late 1902.

By the 1920s, the FBI had established its first Identity Department, which served as a central repository for criminal identification data for law enforcement organisations across the United States.

AFIS system was first introduced in Germany in 1993, and it now holds over 3 million fingerprints.

AFIS is primarily utilized for two purposes:

  • Fingerprint Verification, and,
  • Fingerprint Identification.

Fingerprint Verification: Fingerprint verification is used in the high-security industry, for example, to grant access to specific regions or data to only particular personnel. A fingerprint scanner compares the characteristics of the current finger print to those stored in a database.

Fingerprint Identification: In order to facilitate identification, a detected or present fingerprint is matched to the stored fingerprints.

In the United States, the IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System), which was established in 1999, is utilised instead of the AFIS. EURODAC (European Dactyloscopy) is a separate fingerprint database maintained in Europe.

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