What Does an FBI Badge Look Like?

A seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Bureau's Special Agents carry badges.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a federal investigative and intelligence agency that operates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice. Formed through the manifestations of numerous federal policing organizations, the organization was known as the The United States Bureau of Investigation until it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department in 1935 and renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

1 Considerations

FBI special agents receive badges after they complete requisite training and have been administered the FBI oath of service. Not all FBI agents or personnel carry badges. According to the FBI Recreation Association, the organization began distributing badges in May 1927.

2 Color

FBI badges are completely gold in color. Differing color schemes appear on cloth patch versions of the badge that often adorn the attire of FBI personnel.

3 Text

The text on FBI badges reads “Federal Bureau of Investigation” at the top. The letters “U” and “S” appear at the center of the badge, a common abbreviation for “United States.” The bottom portion of the badge reads “Department of Justice.”

4 Imagery

The badge contains an image of Lady Justice. Lady Justice is portrayed blindfolded (meant to represent objectivity) holding a scale (meant to represent fairness) and a torch. The torch is often interpreted to represent liberty or the defense of liberty.

5 Secrecy

Official information on FBI badges is scarce, primarily because of privacy, security and confidentiality concerns.

6 Popular Culture

FBI badges have been popularized worldwide by portrayals of FBI agents in such television series as "The F.B.I." and "X-Files," as well as such films as "L.A. Confidential."

7 Warning

There is a black market for counterfeit and antiquated FBI badges. They are sought for collectible purposes and for criminal intent. It is against federal law to impersonate a police officer.

Maxwell Wallace has been a professional freelance copywriter since 1999. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. An avid surfer, Wallace enjoys writing about travel and outdoor activities throughout the world. He holds a Bachelor of Science in communication and journalism from Suffolk University, Boston.