Containing almost the entire state of Rhode Island along with some of Massachusetts, the Providence metro area centers around the region's namesake city and state capital. With a service-based economy, about 1.6 million people make this region their home. The metro contains five counties in Rhode Island: Bristol, Kent, Newport, Providence, and Washington; along with three counties in Massachusetts: Bristol, Worcester, and Norfolk.

Largely de-industrialized, the economy of modern Providence revolves around healthcare, insurance, financial services, and education. Major area employers include Brown University, CVS Health, Nortek, and toymaker Hasbro.

Encompassing all but one of Rhode Island's major municipalities, in the Providence metro region, commuting to work is the norm. This daily commute yields a very mobile workforce that often looks for new employment opportunities outside of their home county.

Businesses throughout the Providence metro area reap the rewards of this mobility, which often takes talented individuals across county and even state lines in search of the best employment opportunities. However, not every individual who applies for an opening will prove the safest or most suitable choice: the essential tool for strong hiring decisions is a background check policy that acknowledges and accounts for the challenges of metro employment.

Has your business relied on the same vetting procedures for years? New challenges and changing expectations make it prudent to periodically re-evaluate these processes. Consider that when applications arrive from nearly anywhere within Rhode Island, a narrow background check has limited usefulness: examining only the records held by Providence county courts, for example, makes it easy to miss vital data held in a neighboring county.

How do you solve this problem? Develop and implement a more wide-ranging metropolitan background check policy. 

For applicants, the process will feel the same; for employers, metro-wide checks will yield richer results that enable smarter hiring choices. By broadening your search, you can offer job-seekers a role in your business with confidence in their trustworthiness.

Before implementing such a change, step back to review not only federal rules that guarantee fair hiring but also any state and local laws that may apply to your business.

Rhode Island has a statewide “ban the box” law that applies to private employers of four or more people. Under these rules, employers cannot use an initial application to ask applicants about their criminal histories. However, employers can make inquiries during the first interview, and there are no restrictions on when an employer can execute a background check. Exceptions exist for positions which bar those with criminal convictions by law. Massachusetts has a similar ban the box rule which affects the counties considered to be a part of the Providence region. enables businesses interested in modernizing their background check procedures to access tools ideally suited to metropolitan areas. We make available instant criminal record search results through our proprietary US OneSEARCH for the Rhode Island counties of Bristol, Kent, Newport, Providence, and Washington. We provide direct searches of courthouse records for the Massachusetts counties of Bristol, Worcester, and Norfolk. 

To include the few Rhode Island municipalities not found in the metro, we suggest a state-level background check. Businesses may also opt for a custom regional OneSEARCH, which can include records from up to five states at once.

Records included in these reports may include information from Rhode Island's Administrative Office of the Courts (updated monthly), Department of Corrections (updated monthly), and state sex offender registry (updated bi-weekly). Background checks generated from these sources may include a subject's:

  • Name and, where applicable, alias
  • Case type and status
  • Offense and degree
  • Disposition and disposition date

For Providence businesses, a metro-wide background check is the fastest way to improve vetting policies and strengthen certainty in hiring. Find out how you can use these valuable tools to safeguard your business.


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