How long do you think fingerprints last? Well, long enough to nab the criminals! It is a well-known fact that fingerprints are unique for everyone. In fact, the chances of your fingerprints matching with another person are 1-in-64 billion. 

Technically, fingerprints can last as long as they want to (unless they are destroyed). However, their life-span is largely affected depending on the type of surface and also the environmental conditions.

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

What are fingerprints?

Fingerprints refer to the distinctive friction ridges pattern on our fingertips. The pattern varies from person-to-person.

Fingerprints develop as a result of the baby’s developing fingers pressing against the mother’s womb. Fingerprints are usually of four different patterns – arch, simple loop, double loop, and whorl.

Fingerprints find massive applications in the field of forensic science, as they are more unique than our DNA. Besides, collecting fingerprints and analyzing them are also fairly inexpensive.

How do experts tell if fingerprints are new or old?

Experts use a number of techniques to determine the age of the latent prints. However, the accuracy of such techniques is fairly moderate. 

Determining the age of a fingerprint depends on numerous factors. For instance, experts need to know what was on the finger before it left the latent print.

Experts say that fingerprints that tend to grow dark quickly are signs that they are NOT recent. It also becomes more difficult to determine the fingerprint residue once they are processed with powder or chemicals.

Experts analyze unique characteristic called “minutiae” to distinguish between different fingerprints and their age.  

Recently, the Netherlands Forensic Institute came up with a new technique that can help date fingerprints accurately. However, the technique is only applicable to “fresh” latent prints that are less than 15 days old.

How long do fingerprints last after you die?

Do you know what doesn’t die after you well die? Your fingerprints!

It turns out your fingerprints are quite persistent. Experts say fingerprints are one of the last things to disappear after you die.

So, how long do fingerprints survive on a corpse? The accurate time of survivability is not known. However, experts say they can last up to several months.

In one peculiar case, Haans Galassi lost four of his fingers in a wakeboarding incident.

Three months later, one of his fingers “surfaced” in the belly of a trout. The police were able to identify the fingerprint and trace it back to Gallasi.

How to artificially change your fingerprint?

For the unversed – yes, it is possible to artificially change your fingerprint. At least, up to some extent.

Over the years, people (mostly criminals) have tried to change their fingerprints using artificial techniques. Some of the common methods include using acid and fire to burn their fingertips.

Others also try slicing their fingertips in an attempt to change the pattern. Lastly, people also use skin-smoothening methods like applying nail polish and glues to change their fingerprints. 

It is not certain if such artificial methods are effective. However, it is extremely difficult to change your fingerprint entirely.


Fingerprints are unquestionably one of the most unique features of your body. They also have a persistent nature that allows them to survive long after you die. You could also try changing your fingerprint using some artificial methods. But, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to change the pattern completely.



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