Can Two People Have the Same Fingerprints?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Two people cannot have the same fingerprints. So far as forensic science has been able to determine, not even identical twins have prints that are exactly matched. This helps makes the analysis of fingerprints still one of the main means in which to identify people involved in a crime.

The fingerprints of identical twins may appear the same to the naked eye.
The fingerprints of identical twins may appear the same to the naked eye.

Though fingerprints cannot be identical, they can in fact be very similar. Two identical twins, for example, will have fingerprints that might appear identical to the naked eye. In fact, some characteristics may be a result of genetics. Thus it may be possible to preliminarily identify familial ties by examining the prints of close family members.

Two people cannot have the same fingerprints.
Two people cannot have the same fingerprints.

This is particularly the case if parents have similar fingerprints. Similarities among children may then occur quite regularly. Some families enjoy buying a fingerprinting kit and comparing those of family members. This work makes for a great science project for elementary or secondary school students.

When people hear the word fingerprints, they mostly think of fingers. However, the term may also refer to the distinct and unique patterns formed on the toes. Again, these patterns have never been found to be identical even in twins.

Even though fingerprints are likely proven exceptionally unique, fingerprint evidence is often of secondary importance when DNA evidence can be found. DNA is often referred to as the genetic fingerprints of a person, because it is also different for each person. This type of evidence looks at the fine differences between collected samples and suspects. It can quickly rule in or rule out the presence of the possibility that a person is responsible for a crime.

Often, evidence of fingerprints on furniture or walls may merely prove a person’s presence at the scene of a crime, and not necessarily the person’s presence at the time of a crime. Some DNA evidence, on the other hand, like that collected from a rape kit, can positively identify a person as the only one who could have committed a crime. When forensic inspectors can get both types of evidence, a case is even more easily made.

Fingerprints play an important role in crime scene investigations.
Fingerprints play an important role in crime scene investigations.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Yes, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers. (Qur'an, 75:4)


This article begins with a completely absurd statement. The only way to know for sure that two people cannot have the same fingerprints is to actually examine the fingerprints of every one of the over seven billion people on Earth for a match, times roughly ten of course since most folks have ten fingers. That's seventy billion prints to examine, assuming you could even muster the billions of dollars that it would take to conduct such a study and assuming that you could track down everyone alive and force them to subject to having their prints taken.


My friend and I were playing around punching in with our fingerprints at work and it read his print as mine and when I punched in his, it read it as his. How the hell can that happen? It's weird, but we have similar fingerprints.


Can people have exactly the same fingerprints? Probably not! But can people have matching fingerprints? Absolutely 'Yes"!

When police and FBI etc. 'match' prints they look for similarities in whorls, ridges and waves and if between 8-18 are a match, then they are declared to be 'the same'. This has been proven to be wrong conclusion on at least one occasion by PBS Frontline.


This is an unproven theory, because to prove it you would have to fingerprint everyone in the world. Since the chances of duplicate fingerprints are so rare they are unproven, it holds as valuable evidence in a criminal investigation.


It depends what you mean by identical. I know of a man who locked his computer with a fingerprint scanner. One of his sons opened the computer with his own finger. So fingerprint scanners are obviously not infallible.


I still believe that two people can have the same prints. There are billions of people in the world, so how are none the same?


OK, cool. I really thought that some people had the same fingerprints.


Who decides that no two fingerprints in the world will be the same?


I know a security professional who was investigated for crimes that had their fingerprints. They were flown out of Canada and thoroughly investigated by the FBI. It was determined that an unknown person was committing crimes had identical fingerprints to three other people.

Therefore, four people had identical prints and one of the four could not found and investigated. The security professional does not know his father.


There is a 1 in 64 billion chance of fingerprints matching, which means that there is an 11 percent chance that two people in the world have identical fingerprints, if the 64 billion accounts for all of the variables.

So nobody can say that no two people will never ever have the same fingerprints. Also if you count all of the people who have died that 11 percent raises by a lot.


No two persons living or dead will ever have the exact same fingerprints, period. You can have examiner error that may misidentify a fingerprint with someone else. We have many computer systems that match fingerprints and latent prints, and have never matched two totally difference persons to one print.


Is it possible for a living person to have identical fingerprints with a deceased individual, one that died decades in the past?


You never can prove that no two people have the same fingerprints.


to #1, i think you are missing three zeros from your number... i think the FBI concluded that the chances of duplicated fingerprints are one in 64 billion (1 in 64,000,000,000)!


This article is supposed to be about people having the same fingerprints, not the importance of DNA and fingerprints in criminal investigations. Try to stay on topic.


I know two brothers born three years apart with the same identical fingerprints. they actually messed up the registration system of the country because the registrar could not believe what he was seeing.


According to the FBI, the odds of two people having identical fingerprints are 1 in 64,000,000. In June 2002, a corpse turned up near Las Vegas. A fingerprint taken from the body matched one from Kathleen Hatfield of Sonoma County, California. Next of kin were notified, funeral arrangements were made and her grave was dug. But before the body could be interred, Kathleen Hatfield turned up alive and well.

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