NU Online News Service, Dec. 26, 11:58 a.m. ?- The California Department of Insurance says it is beefing up fingerprint requirements for insurance producer license applications.

Non-residents who want to apply for producer licenses after Jan. 1, 2002, will first have to submit fingerprints.

A private company, Sylvan/Indentix, Springfield, Ill., will compare applicant fingerprints with prints stored in state and federal databases, to see whether applicants have criminal records that could keep them from holding producer licenses.

The California department required all applicants to file fingerprints starting in 1980, but officials say the department suspended the requirement for out-of-state applicants in 1988, mainly because of the difficulty of getting access to a useful database of out-of-state fingerprints.

The department decided to revive the fingerprinting requirement for out-of-state residents in October 2000, after it gained access to a national Federal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint database.

The California department will charge applicants $74 to process each set of fingerprint impressions.

An applicant must get a law enforcement agency, such as a police department, to take the prints.

More information is available on the department Web site, at http://www.insurance.ca.gov/LIC/NonresidentFingerprintimpressions.htm