Are Employers Overlooking International Background Checks?

By Michael Klazema on 5/8/2018

At, we often talk about criminal background checks regarding the primary types of searches we provide. For most of our clients, that means domestic screening services such as county criminal record searchesstate repository searchesfederal criminal checks, and multi-jurisdictional database searches.

The fact is more and more companies are getting to the point where they need to look beyond country borders with their background checks. In 2017, Forbes reported the number of employers open to hiring workers from overseas increased 21% from the year before. This statistic indicates a trend toward a globalized workforce in the United States, which will demand an increasingly globalized background check strategy as well.

So far, many companies aren’t going global with their background checks. There are a few possible reasons for this oversight. In some cases, companies might not think they hire enough foreign workers to justify the cost, or that the foreign workers they do hire will have enough domestic history for standard county, state, and federal checks to find red flags. In other cases, employers might just not know where to start: companies that offer foreign background checks are not as prevalent as those offering criminal record searches closer to home.

The problem is global. According to United Kingdom-based HR media brand People Management, only 40 percent of employers conduct background checks of foreign hires, versus 78 percent for domestic hires.

In a 2017 survey conducted by, 83 percent of U.S. respondents said they had conducted international background checks on at least some job candidates. That figure is surprisingly high—higher, in fact, than education verification checks (75 percent), professional license verifications (76 percent), motor vehicle checks (68 percent), and even sex offender registry checks (80 percent). As many as 97 percent of respondents said they conducted county or state criminal history checks, but those checks are also relevant to a larger number of job candidates.

International background checks are always a necessity when an employer hires someone from outside the United States. Even domestically, it’s a good idea for companies to tailor the geography of their checks based on where a candidate has lived in the past. Address history checks are a powerful means of finding this information and using it to identify appropriate county criminal records to explore in each area of residence. The result is a more thorough criminal check that minimizes the employer’s risk of missing a red flag.

A candidate who has lived in a foreign country within the past 5-10 years could have a whole history that no domestic background check could reveal. In these situations, international background checks can find vital information about criminal history, employment history, education, and even national security concerns. Any employer hiring a worker from overseas—or even from Canada or Mexico—needs to use international background checks to ensure thorough pre-employment vetting.



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