How Long Is a Background Check Good For?

How long does a background check last? This question is difficult to answer, but critical to address: many employers use it to decide how to structure their strategies for screening existing employees. The standard operating procedure for businesses is to run background checks on new employees at the time of their hiring. From there, businesses diverge significantly in how they handle ongoing background checks. 

Some businesses run repeat checks on their employees every two years. Others do it every five years. Many employers only run background checks on new hires and never re-screen existing employees. They assume that once they have vetted an employee, there is no need to do so again. 

An important truth to realize is that a background check is simply a snapshot of a person’s background at a specific moment. Just because someone passes a criminal background check that you run today doesn’t mean that they’d pass one again in a month, or a year, or five years. There is always a possibility that one of your employees could be arrested, charged with a crime, or convicted. 

In some cases, those convictions might affect that person’s ability to do their job in a responsible and safe fashion. For instance, if you hire a delivery driver, and he or she gets a DUI three months into their employment, that conviction effectively changes his or her ability to perform the job. 

It is important for employers to be aware of such changes to limit their levels of risk and liability. At the same time, many employers believe that they can’t afford to run full, repeat background checks weekly, monthly, or even yearly. The question then shifts from “How long does a background check last?” to “What can employers do to make sure their knowledge of their employees is up-to-date?” 

The good news is that some background check snapshots stay current for longer. Education and employment verification checks, for instance, are verifications that you should only need to run once. Others—such as criminal history checks and driving record checks—are subject to change over time. 

At, we have a solution to help employers navigate the challenges of out-of-date background checks. 

We have designed our ongoing criminal monitoring service to make sure that employers stay in the loop regarding new developments to their employees’ criminal records. With this service, we screen your existing employees through our US OneSEARCH database monthly. That database not only includes hundreds of millions of criminal records spanning all 50 states but also other critical information such as sex offender registry data. If there are changes to an employee’s record, we will notify you. You can then decide if the new information affects that person’s eligibility for employment. To begin using this service, visit our ongoing criminal monitoring product page.

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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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