An automated system for searching fingerprint files and transmitting fingerprint images. AFIS computer equipment can scan fingerprint impressions (or utilize electronically transmitted fingerprint images) and automatically extract and digitize ridge details and other identifying characteristics in sufficient detail to enable the computer's searching and matching components to distinguish a single fingerprint from thousands or even millions of fingerprints previously scanned and stored in digital form in the computer's memory. The process eliminates the manual searching of fingerprint files and increases the speed and accuracy of ten-print processing (arrest fingerprint cards and noncriminal justice applicant fingerprint cards). AFIS equipment also can be used to identify individuals from "latent" (crime scene) fingerprints, with even fragmentary prints of single fingers in some cases. Digital fingerprint images generated by AFIS equipment can be transmitted electronically to remote sites, eliminating the necessity of mailing fingerprint cards and providing remote access to AFIS fingerprint files.