How much does a background check cost?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the cost of a background report varies significantly depending on the information that is under investigation. In this post, we will delve into the costs of the different services available through

The Cost of Running an Employment Background Check

Usually, when someone asks about this cost, they are referring to the cost of the most common type of pre-employment investigation: the criminal report. Because there are so many different criminal background checks, it can be challenging to find a quick answer.

A county crime history search will carry one cost, while a national criminal report will have a completely different price. The most thorough criminal reports often include information from multiple crime history searches, meaning that the final price will be a combination of the costs of individual searches. 

Keep these factors in mind while reviewing our pricing details below.

County criminal history check

Employers will often start by running county criminal reviews in the location of their premises. Since most criminal records are initially filed at the county level, county courthouses often offer the most up-to-date version of a person’s crime history, albeit without the geographic reach of a nationwide search.

Our cost for one county crime history search is $12, though additional court fees may apply—in New York, for example, the fees increase the price to $95.

Many businesses use address searches to find out where their job candidates have lived in the past and then use those addresses to conduct county crime history searches in multiple areas. We offer an address history search, US OneTRACE, that costs just $3.50.

State criminal history check

Statewide criminal reports involve a search of state criminal repositories, which different counties report into semi-regularly. While not all counties are vigilant about reporting their latest criminal filings to a repository, a state search can yield information from several counties in the state for about the cost of a county report.

At, our state-level searches start at $10—additional court access fees may apply.

Federal criminal history check

Not to be confused with a multi-jurisdictional or national search, federal reports involve conducting searches of individual U.S. District Court indices. This report works similarly to a county crime history search, but it finds federally prosecuted criminal records. Traditional county or state searches will never return information about federal crimes. 

Our federal criminal search begins at $15 with additional court fees.

Multi-jurisdictional criminal history check

Employers regularly use our US OneSEARCH database, a proprietary multi-jurisdictional database that spans more than 650 million criminal records from counties, departments of correction, administrative offices of courts, and offender registries throughout the country. A search of the database for business use, landlord access, and other professional purposes costs $23.95 with instant results.

The Cost of Running a Background Check on Yourself

Want to see what employers are seeing when they order a crime history report on you? Run a history search on yourself with our Personal background screening service.

This national crime report is a search of our US OneSEARCH crime history database, which includes over 650 million criminal records from all 50 states plus U.S. territories such as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. The search also looks at national sex offender registries from all 50 states. A self-report costs $12.50.

What Affects the Price of a Background Check?

The biggest factor that affects the cost is the possible additional fees, which vary from one court or repository to the next. Some courts have no fees for conducting searches; others, such as New York, involve steeper fees.

Because prices can vary so significantly from one court to the next, starts with a base price on each report but makes it clear that additional fees may apply. When we incur fees while running a history search on a client’s behalf, we charge the client accordingly.

The other significant variable with cost is the number of reports that you are running. Most employers aren’t running just one type of crime history search but are instead adding additional layers of investigation (such as searches in other counties or searches of our proprietary database) to ensure a broader and more accurate report.

Prices will also fluctuate if you decide to add extra non-criminal assessments, such as verification searches for education, past employment, references, or professional licenses. Those reports are $12.50 each, except for the professional license verifications, which cost $20 per license.

Background checks price comparison

Another factor that can affect the cost of a screening is bundling. At, we offer three primary packages:

  • Instant Criminal+ is a bundle that starts with a Social Security Number review to pull all of the names or aliases (including maiden names and other legal name changes) associated with an SSN. We then run separate US OneSEARCH reports for each name variation. This package costs $29.95.

  • Instant Criminal+ One County includes all the benefits of the Instant Criminal+ package, plus a county crime history search in the county where the candidate has lived most recently. We run this county search using the name that the client provides. The cost of the bundle is $49.95.

  • Instant Criminal+ All Counties includes all the benefits of the Instant Criminal+ package, plus an address review and a criminal records search of all the counties where the candidate has lived within the past seven years. The package costs $64.95.


We also offer packages specifically designed for industry sectors (Staffing, Construction or Manufacturing, Retail, and Volunteer Organizations), and custom search packages (including custom bundles, volume-based pricing, and drop-off searches) that deliver unique benefits for clients.

To learn how to get the maximum value out of your next investigation investment, contact us today.


Can an employer make me pay for my own background check?

Because the cost of these reports can add up over the course of a pre-employment screening process, some employers cut costs by passing this expense on to their candidates. While there is no federal law that prohibits employers from requiring candidates to pay for their own reports, there are laws in several states that restrict or forbid the practice. States with such laws include

California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Vermont. Washington, D.C. also has a law to this effect.

Hiring entities asking candidates to pay for their own vetting process is more common for volunteer positions than for paid employment.

Who offers the cheapest background check?

Because there are so many variables that impact the cost of a screening, and because all providers offer slightly different products and services, there is no objective way to gauge which provider is “cheapest.” Employers should research investigation companies, look at services and bundles, and determine which one will deliver the most value based on their specific needs.

What's the difference between a free and paid background check?

Most experts advise customers to be wary of free services. From visiting courts in-person to conduct searches to assembling and maintaining up-to-date databases, quality investigations cost money.

There is a misconception that, since criminal records and other details are typically a part of the public record, it is easy to access these details for free. While some information can be found through free services—or even through a Google search—most of it can only be accessed directly through courts, DMVs, employers, colleges and universities, licensing bodies, and other entities that either charge fees for searches or require time and effort to access.

When you pay for such a report, you are paying for the expertise, labor, infrastructure, and reliability that an experienced team can provide—assets that net better results than any “free” search.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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