Yes, in select circumstances a ‘remote’ examination may be done.  By ‘remote’ I mean at some location other than a formal laboratory.1 However, it is important to understand up-front that it is always preferable to undertake examinations in a proper laboratory setting where appropriate equipment is available, proper examination conditions are assured, and there are fewer time constraints as a rule. If the material can be submitted for examination at the lab, it is always a better choice. 

The most common justification for a remote examination is to gain access to documents that would be otherwise inaccessible.2 For example, some items are only available at a lawyer’s office, at a courthouse (if already presented into evidence or being held there for some other reason), or at another examiner’s laboratory. Many institutions, for a variety of reasons but often relating to security of the items, do not wish to release original documents to anyone outside their control.  Instead, they will offer copies, sometimes certified and sometimes not. However, as noted elsewhere, working with reproductions is always less than ideal and may result in an inconclusive opinion simply because the information provided by the copies is too limited.

To address such issues a remote examination may be proposed.  The client must understand that remote examinations are not ideal.  Certain types of analyses or examination are possible using portable equipment with only limited or minimal impact of the outcome; other types of analyses will be affected and still others will be precluded completely. 

To minimize problems during a remote examination, it is important to arrange for a private, quiet room away from other activities. That room should have regular electrical supply, good lighting, a comfortable chair, and a solid table or desk large enough to hold the items and equipment to be used. 

Beyond this, sufficient time must be provided.  Note that the time required for an examination depends on many factors.  However, any time an examiner is ‘rushed’, they will have to adjust the examination accordingly and this may have a negative impact on the end result.

Finally, remote examinations require travel and sometimes accommodations/meals for an extended stay.  Such costs can add considerably to the final tally for the service. 

To determine whether or not a remote examination is warranted in your case, and for an estimate of the costs involved, please contact us to discuss the matter in detail.

  1. Note some people refer to this as an ‘off-site examination’ considering their own laboratory to be the main site for such work.  Others will call this an ‘on-site examination’ referring to the client’s location as the ‘site’.
  2. Another reason for such work is to assist in obtaining specimen samples from a writer. That type of work does not normally involve any actual examination and is discussed in a separate FAQ.