Fingerprints and palmprints are the most common authentic biometrics for personal identification, especially for forensic security. Previous research have been proposed to speed up the searching process in fingerprint and palmprint identification systems, such as those based on classification or indexing, in which the deterioration of identification accuracy is hard to avert. In this paper, a novel hierarchical minutiae matching algorithm for fingerprint and palmprint identification systems is proposed. This method decomposes the matching step into several stages and rejects many false fingerprints or palmprints on different stages, thus it can save much time while preserving a high identification rate. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm can save almost 50% searching time compared with traditional methods and illustrate its effectiveness.