Whether you are sitting in the employer’s chair or applying for jobs, you are probably curious how long background checks take. If you are trying to fill a job, you might be on a tight schedule and itching for a quick turnaround on candidate background checks. If you are a job applicant, you probably just want to know when you can expect to hear the final word from a prospective employer. Either way, the answer is the same: it depends on the type of background check.
How long does it take for a criminal background check to come back?
In most employment settings, the term “background check” actually means “criminal history check.” As such, when people ask how long background checks take, they are referring to criminal checks. The answer can vary depending on 1) how many steps are involved with the criminal check, 2) which criminal background reports are being ordered, and 3) whether the process involves any international searches.
At backgroundchecks.com, searches of our multijurisdictional database US OneSEARCH can return results instantly. For information not stored in our electronic database, we can typically return background check reports in 1-3 business days. This timeframe applies to county-level criminal searches, state-level criminal searches, and federal-level criminal searches. State-level criminal searches see the most variation, with some states taking one business day and others taking several weeks for processing.
If there are extra steps to the criminal screening process, the total wait time will extend. For instance, some employers like to do alias and address history searches before ordering other criminal reports. This information can help employers decide which states or counties to target with their checks. At backgroundchecks.com, we offer instant searches for identities and addresses called US AliasSEARCH and US OneTRACE. Once the results have been returned, it’s up to the employer to review them and strategize a background check plan.
The biggest wildcard for criminal check turnaround time is international status. If the employer needs to conduct international criminal history checks, you can generally add two or three weeks to the timeframe.
What about other types of background checks?
Criminal background checks don’t represent the only vetting step employers complete. Depending on the employer, a background check process may include credit checks, driving history checks, civil court searches, verifications, and bankruptcy searches. How long does it take to get these background checks back?
- Driving Record Checks: Our estimate for this type of check at backgroundchecks.com is 1-3 business days. However, the timeframe really does depend on the state. Sometimes the process can take a few weeks.
- Credit History Checks: In most cases, credit history checks should process instantly. However, before a company can order this type of check for employment purposes, it must complete an application to become an End User of “Consumer Credit Reports for Employment Purposes, Tenant Screening or Franchise Screening.” This application and approval process can add up to 14 days to the process.
- Civil Court Searches: How long this type of background check takes depends on whether the court in question is a county court or a federal court. At backgroundchecks.com, we can process civil court checks in 5-7 days. Federal courts are faster, with a typical turnaround time of 1-2 business days.
- Verification Checks: Verification checks include checks to verify resume claims about things such as employment history, education, and professional licenses. The category also includes reference checks. In most cases, these checks will take 1-3 business days.
- Bankruptcy Checks: If a person has filed for bankruptcy, that information should be recorded in US bankruptcy court. A background check within these court files typically takes 1-3 business days.
At backgroundchecks.com, we are as transparent as possible about how long different types of pre-employment background checks take. On all our products, you will see a timeframe estimate. If you have any questions about background check turnaround times, you can also contact us directly.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments