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This post is about how to visit and take a tour of the FBI Experience at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC, with tips on how to plan your visit, and what you will see.
The FBI building is technically closed to the public. However, with advance planning and help from your Congressperson, you can still tour the FBI Education Center.
Originally created as a way to introduce new employees and other government officials to the workings of the FBI, in 2014, it was opened to the public.
Like arranging a visit to the White House, you must go through your Congressperson. The tours can be scheduled for business days 9 am – 3 pm. The building is closed on federal holidays.
(You can find out who you Member of Congress is here).
This must be done no less than four weeks in advance. All applicants for a tour of the FBI Education Center will be vetted and subject to a background check. You will need to provide your:
For groups of 20 or more, you can submit a request directly here. Don’t try to request a tour with this link if you have less than 20 people, as it will be ignored.
FBI Tours are open to US citizens and green card holders only.
If you are cleared to enter the FBI Building, you will be notified two weeks prior to your confirmed date.
If you are granted a tour, plan on 2 hours for the tour itself and arriving 15 minutes early. The tours operate on weekdays during normal business hours.
There is no storage at the FBI Headquarters. If you’re looking for bag storage before your tour, check out our post on luggage storage in DC.
The following items are strictly prohibited and may not be brought into FBI Headquarters:
Can you take photos on the FBI Tour?
Yes! You may take photos inside the FBI Experience exhibit only. You will not be able to take photographs at all in the screening process
Conveniently located downtown Washington, DC (map), it is very easy to get to the FBI Building.
Metro: The FBI Building is about a five-minute walk from four different Metro stations. Read our guide on how to use the DC Metro (subway).
It is also on Pennsylvania Ave NW, and a direct walk from the White House or the US Capitol Building, an easy walk from the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall, and you can see it from Ford’s Theatre.
Parking: You will find street parking in the area surrounding the FBI Building, just not directly in front of the building. If you need a parking garage, the closest is on 10th St NW between E and F Streets NW, just next to Ford’s Theatre.
We recommend booking convenient and affordable parking in advance through SpotHero, the nation’s leading parking reservation app.
To reserve your parking spot, visit the SpotHero Parking Page and book a spot with rates up to 50% off drive-up.
New to SpotHero? Click here to download the SpotHero app.
Once through security, an escort takes you out another secure area, across the courtyard (they have workout equipment, an outdoor running track, tables, etc.) and into the FBI Experience Museum.
Your escort gives you an intro but then the museum is self-guided. Visitor services reps are stationed throughout to answer questions – all are FBI or former FBI agents or employees and are very knowledgeable.
Some of the highlights of the tour are:
In the exhibit on surveillance, find the hidden camera in the painting – it’s the period in the signature!
You can check out the desk of infamous FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who the headquarters building is named for.
There are also some artifacts on display that take your breath away, like this case with ephemera collected from the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The FBI moved into this building in 1975 from the Department of Justice building across the street. It was immediately criticized and remains unloved by most to this day. In fact, the FBI will be moving soon – the building has reached the end of its lifespan. It is not yet public knowledge where the FBI Headquarters will relocate or what will happen to this building or plot of land.
The FBI wanted a building that was bomb proof for the first few levels and had secured access points throughout. The design firm of Murphy & Associates were hired to design the structure.
The building includes theaters, classrooms, auditoriums and three levels below ground, as well as:
Despite its immense size, not all of the FBI’s holdings are kept inside the Hoover Building in downtown Washington DC. The FBI Laboratory is located in Quantico, Virginia at Marine Base Quantico. It is one of the largest crime labs in the world.
As you walk along the Pennsylvania Ave side of the building, you’ll notice many American flags along the FBI Building Look closely, they are each different. Starting at 10th St NW, you’ll notice 10 different flags flanked by our current 50-star flag.