How long do Fingerprints last
How long do Fingerprints last

How long do Fingerprints last? [Fact Checked]

9 mins read

Fingerprints can last upto 40+ Years.

A fingerprint is a distinctive pattern of ridges, whorls, and minutiae on the surface of the finger that is left behind by the friction between sweat glands and layers of epidermis on the inside of the skin. Fingerprints are found all over humans in every country in all types of conditions. The ones most readily available for comparison to identify a person are those found on fingers.

The length of time that a fingerprint lasts varies from scenario to scenario but can remain unchanged for years under ideal conditions and as long as 50 years or more.

It is difficult to accurately predict how long fingerprints will last because too many variables are involved. However, it is estimated that fingerprints will last for about 10 years to 50 years and can be considered permanent or semi-permanent.

Fingerprints have been around for thousands of years and have been used for identification purposes since about the 9th century AD. However, the use of fingerprinting has expanded over recent decades.

How long do Frigerprints Last?

If you are wondering How long do Fingerprints last below table will give you the answer.

ObjectsHow long it lasts
Fingerprints on paper40+ years
Fingerprints on metal2 ½ + years
Fingerprints on plastic7+ years
Fingerprint on a surface10+ years

Does rubbing alcohol remove fingerprints?

Mix alcohol and water in a one-to-one ratio and use it to remove fingerprints on any surface. Rubbing alcohol works well because it is gentle, evaporates quickly, and leaves no residue.

What are Latent Fingerprints?

In forensic medicine, fingerprints left on specific surfaces aftertouch are called Latent prints. These fingerprints are often used in criminal investigations and can last for several days. Latent prints contain water and biological components (such as triglycerides and fatty acids) that lose their water content after about 24 hours. However, there are several ways to preserve Latent prints, and these archived images can last indefinitely. Latent prints on non-porous materials exposed to moisture and high temperatures disappear rapidly.

How do Foresics tell if fingerprints are new or old?

Experts employ a variety of methods to determine the age of the prints. However the accuracy of these methods is moderate.

The time of the fingerprint relies on many variables. In particular, professionals have to determine what was on the finger prior to leaving the ink.

Experts believe fingerprints that get darker quickly are indications that they are not recent. It becomes even difficult to discern the fingerprint’s traces once they’ve been processed with chemical or powder.

Experts examine a distinctive characteristic known as “minutiae” to differentiate between different fingerprints as well as their age.

Recently researchers from the Netherlands Forensic Institute came up with a brand new method which can aid in the accurate dating of fingerprints. The method is only suitable for “fresh” latent fingerprints which are not more than fifteen days older.

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Do a Person’s Fingerprints Change After Death?

If you’re a fan of crime novels, you might think that fingerprints do not change. In reality, an investigation that was published in the July 14th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that the accuracy of fingerprint recognition decreases as the interval between collections of fingerprints increases which suggests it is possible that the patterns on someone’s fingers could actually change throughout the course of a person’s life.

However, it is possible to identify a living individual or a recently deceased person with a preserved body – through fingerprints seems to be quite reliable. 

According to this section on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website, in the instance of a deceased individual, it could mean forcing a finger to straighten which is stiff due to rigor mortis. Then, use a special tool for bending to get the fingerprint, without pressing the tip of your finger.

As explained in the above quote the task is made more challenging if the body has been subjected to some amount of decomposition or drying (i.e. dried out) or is submerged in water to relax the skin. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Medical examiners have the ability to surgically remove the fingers or hands of a decedent and then send the samples to a lab where different, more sophisticated techniques are used.

For instance, in the case of severely damaged skin, silicone can be used to create an impression that records the specifics of the fingerprint lines. The impressions could then be captured and used for identification.

Is It Illegal to Change or Alter Your Fingerprints?

Criminal convictions based upon fingerprints are not common. However, the popularity of TV police dramas has caused many criminals to great lengths to ensure that their fingerprints are not be discovered. In the past couple of decades, several stories have surfaced of criminals cutting and burning their fingerprints. 

Surprisingly, cosmetic surgeons are requested to assist in changing fingerprints.

There is no law prohibiting a person from altering or modifying their fingerprints. However, there are other laws that could make use of altered fingerprints to prove the existence of a different crime. 

It should also be noted that changing fingerprints will not erase the possibility of being used as evidence. Thus, fingerprints of an individual will remain in place even when they are modified. If a person alters their fingerprints, the fingerprints that they leave behind are easier to identify than before.

Additionally, fingerprints are found on the entire palm and finger as well as people whose fingerprints are altered might have their entire hand fingerprinted. The edges of one’s fingerprint even if they are not altered completely could lead to an identification.

What is the Difference Between a fingerprint and a Person’s Signed Signature?

The fingerprint is a pattern of raised ridges on the fingertips unique to each individual. It can be used to identify people based on their fingerprints.

Fingerprints are unique and personal traits that allow people to be identified based on their fingerprints. Fingerprints are usually gathered from the fingers and palms of both hands. They can also be collected and analyzed through different means such as online databases or hospitals.

A person’s signed signature, on the other hand, includes the individual’s handwritten or printed name and identifies them as the signer of a document.

A signature is a person’s name, typically their initials or full name, and a date or place. It is usually printed on the document they sign. A signature may be handwritten or typed.


Fingerprints are a unique identifying characteristic of each individual that can be used to identify them. While this is all well and good, Fingerprints can also be used to establish the source of an unknown object. Fingerprints play a bigger role in Criminal Science. A fingerprint can last more than 50 years depending on the situation. I hope now you know the answer for How long do Fingerprints last.

References/ Sources


I am a Senior Researcher at Plant Awesome PLC. Since I was a child, I have been researching things. I started this website to let people know how long it takes to finish their stuff.

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