Difference Between CIA and FBI (With Table)

Several intelligence agencies are operating across the world for the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information in support of law enforcement, national security, military, and foreign policy subjects. Speaking of which, the FBI and CIA are the best out of the best in gleaning as well as safeguarding information in and around the US, respectively. 


The difference between the CIA and the FBI is that the CIA is an independent agency, which operates alongside a network of spies outside the United States. Whereas the FBI comes under the US Department of Justice that is known for gathering intelligence and looking after federal crimes within the United States of America. 

CIA is the acronym of Central Intelligence Agency, an independent agency. It is officially tasked to gather, process, and scrutinize national security information from around the world. The organisation was formed in 1947 in order to protect the policy of the country. Over time, it has been used to collect, analyze, evaluate and transmit foreign intelligence to the US. 

On the other hand, the FBI is widely known as the Federal Bureau Of Investigation in the US. It is tasked for and based on the US’s intelligence and security service. It was formed in 1908, which operates under the US Department of Justice, and takes control over various categories of federal crimes alongside national security. 

Comparison Table Between CIA and FBI

Parameters of ComparisonCIAFBI
DefinitionCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an international security service that operates outside the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a domestic intelligence agency that functions inside the United States. 
EtymologyThe CIA came to function on 18th September 1947 in order to process national security information outside the US or around the world. FBI commenced on 26th July 1908 which was founded by J. Edgar Hoover, Charles Joseph Bonaparte and Theodore Roosevelt.
Lawful ObjectCIA is not bolstered by any law and highly underscores on collecting regarding intelligence concerns that reflect on international protection.FBI is a law enforcement agency that works within the territory of the U.S. 
DutiesCIA emphasis these five duties considered to be done such as counteract terrorism,  nonproliferation of nuclear,  undermine illegal weapons, conducting international political events, Cybersecurity on crucial documents and counterintelligence.  FBI generally focus on internal crimes of the country, for instance, followed by, combat cyber-criminal acts, terrorism, civil rights, against foreign intelligence, venality operations, espionage, and cyber operations and major crimes.
Branches CIA comes with five major Directorate branches- Digital Innovation, Directorate of analysis, operations, support and Directorate of science & technology. There are overall 56 branches in the FBI such as FBI National security, FBI Criminal, Cyber, FBI Human Resource, FBI science & Technology Branch etc. 

What is CIA? 

The Central Intelligence Agency is in short termed as CIA, an indecent agency working for the US from outside. They are under the guidance of the federal government of the United States. It was established in 1947, which progresses international policies jointly and works on international security. It has no law enforcement function and is primarily assigned to focus on overseas intelligence concerns. 

The CIA is based on securing the nation, clear international issues and foreign policy and investigate international cases. Besides, they have five priorities in their duty, firstly to counteract terrorism, followed by nonproliferation of nuclear and other destructive weapons, notifying American leaders about overseas events, counterintelligence, and cyber intelligence. 

The CIA is enclosed with five crucial directorates in an executive office, who are elected by the president with Senate confirmation. It encompasses directorates in digital innovation, analysis, operations, support, and science and technology. They report these fields’ updates from around the world to the United States effectively. 

What is FBI? 

Speaking of the FBI, it is elaborated as Federal Bureau Of Investigation, a domestic intelligence and security service of the US. It was established in 1908 for the US officials to counteract terrorism and intelligence alongside criminal investigation within the United States. 

The FBI is tasked to protect the US from terrorism, civil rights against foreign intelligence operations, espionage, and cyber operations followed by combat cyber-criminal acts, transnational criminal enterprises, major crimes, and public corruption. 

On the whole, the FBI has six prominent branches to focus on certain issues within the US, such as the Intelligence branch, national security branch, criminal, cyber, response, and services branch, science & technology branch, information & technology branch, and Human Resources branch. 

Over and above, the FBI reports to Attorney Gen. and national intelligence. As of now, the FBI has taken care of over 200 categories of federal crimes happening within the US. However, so does the CIA. The FBI also can carry out secret activities overseas unless and until it involves US government agencies coordination. 

Main Differences Between CIA and FBI

  1. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an international intelligence security agency operating outside the US and around the world. Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a state security agency functioning within the country. 
  2. The CIA came into force on 18th September 1947, whereas the FBI began to function on 26th July 1908.
  3. The CIA is not supported by law and focuses on international relations, but the FBI is a law enforcement agency that underscores domestic events. 
  4. The CIA follows these duties: nonproliferation of nuclear energy, undermining illegal weapons, conducting international political events, Cybersecurity to establish affiliate relationships from outside the country. Albeit FBI focus on eliminating terrorism, cyber-criminal acts, terrorism, civil rights, against foreign intelligence, corruption and espionage in order to build a reinforced country inside. 
  5. The CIA has five major branches such as Directorate of operations, the Directorate of science & technology etc. Whereas the FBI governs 56 branches to establish a strong relationship within the US. 


CIA and FBI are intelligence security agencies, where the CIA is an international intelligence security service, and the FBI is a domestic intelligence security agency. The CIA operates outside the US that focuses on counteracting terrorism, nonproliferation of nuclear, destructive weapons, notify overseas events, counterintelligence, and cyber intelligence. CIA is not supported by any law enforcement and mainly aimed to govern international concerns.

Besides, the CIA functions under five branches: Digital Innovation, analysis, Directorate of operations, Directorate of support and science & technology. FBI is a domestic intelligence security service that mainly operates within the US. FBI is supported by law enforcement as it emphasises internal cases of the country like- corruption, criminal charges, terrorism, civil rights and against foreign intelligence etc., to develop a friendly relationship within the country. Furthermore, 56 fields are controlled by the FBI in order to protect the citizens of the country. 


  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=83aMqklUijYC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=central+intelligence+agency&ots=-SHgnHFKCU&sig=OylPEFUFXglGNuxcRrBCT7XA0zc
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/4401932/
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