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Forensic Laboratory

Forensic Laboratory

Protects U.S. national security by providing expert quality forensic, scientific, intelligence and investigative support services to DHS, HSI and other foreign and domestic agencies.

Accredited since 2001, the HSI Forensic Laboratory applies scientific principles to provide a broad range of forensic, intelligence, and investigative support services across all HSI programmatic areas.

The laboratory is accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025 General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories in the field of Forensic Testing, specifically in the disciplines of Forensic Document and Friction Ridge Examinations.

HSI Forensic Laboratory services include:

  • Assisting in crime scene processing and evidence collection.
  • Conducting forensic examinations on evidence collected during an investigation.
  • Performing polygraph examinations in support of the HSI mission.
  • Providing expert witnesses in criminal trials.
  • Assisting federal agencies in developing more secure travel and identity documents.

Questioned Documents

The Questioned Document (QD) Unit conducts forensic examinations on a full range of documents to determine authenticity, authorship, and the presence of alterations. The QD Unit also draws on its expertise to assist other federal agencies in developing more secure travel and identity documents.

  • Forensic document examiners specialize in the scientific analysis of travel and identification documents to include passports, visas, driver’s licenses, identification cards, birth certificates, and other vital records.
  • Conduct analyses of handwriting, hand printing, typewriting, printing processes, papers, inks, and stamp impressions.
  • Other types of document examination include same source association of counterfeit documents, indented writing analysis, reconstruction of shredded documents, and typewriter and thermal printer ribbon analysis.

Latent Prints

The Latent Print Unit provides technical expertise and a wide range of friction ridge examination services.

  • Fingerprint specialists conduct latent print processing, inked and latent print comparisons, automated database searches, training, and crime scene assistance.
  • Examine a variety of evidentiary items to include drug packaging and paraphernalia, bulk cash wrappings, firearms, ammunition, computers, currency, and compact discs.


The Operations Unit provides training and operational support to U.S. and foreign law enforcement officers.

  • The laboratory’s customized fraudulent document detection training programs and ongoing liaison with other federal, state, and local agencies, as well as foreign governments, promotes common efforts for combating document fraud.
  • Operations also creates and distributes document intelligence alerts and reference guides to assist law enforcement officers in identifying fraud.


The Polygraph Unit supports HSI’s domestic and international mission by providing polygraph services in support of a wide variety of investigations and activities. Polygraph examinations can establish a subject’s credibility and identify additional leads, suspects, and assets.

  • Specific Issue Examinations in support of all HSI investigations.
  • Screening Examinations in support of HSI’s National Security Mission and International Operations.

The polygraph program is accredited by the Department of Defense, National Center for Credibility Assessment.

Evidence Recovery Team (ERT)

The ERT program consists of personnel assigned to HSI Special Agent in Charge offices throughout the United States who receive specialized training to collect, preserve and forensically process evidence in furtherance of HSI investigations. ERT members specialize in the following areas:

  • Crime scene photography and documentation
  • DNA collection
  • Latent Print preservation/processing
  • Trace Metal Detection
  • Test Firing of weapons for inclusion into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN)
Last Updated: 04/22/2024
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