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How Long Does a Background Check Take – Tips to Consider

What is the duration of a background check? It depends on the kind of background check, the details requested and the data sources used. It can be a few minutes or as many as five working days.

If you want to determine the average time taken for background checks and what should be done in case the process takes too much time, you can try BeenVerified, which promises to deliver results quickly within a few minutes.

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How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Various kinds of background checks exist, and the time for each to be completed is contingent on the kind of data requested the source of the information, and legal requirements.

The processing time of a background check can range from a few seconds to five business days.

It can take longer if more in-depth searches are required or if the assistance of other entities, such as professional license certifications, universities, and previous employers, is necessary.

This article expands on the typical duration of common background checks, what they’re used for, how the data is acquired, and potential roadblocks that can lead to delayed turnaround times.

If you desire prompt background checks that can be carried out in a short span of time, providing you with all the necessary details, we suggest you utilize our recommended background check services:

Disclaimer: The background check services mentioned above are not FCRA-compliant. Hence, we don’t recommend using their service or the information they provide to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance.

What Is a Background Check, and How Long Should It Take?


An organization or individual can conduct an investigation, referred to as a background check, to authenticate details about an individual.

This could include their criminal past, educational and employment record, credit history, drug screening, and more. The point of a background check is to confirm that the person being investigated is reliable and suitable.

The amount of time a background check takes to complete varies depending on different elements, such as the type of check, the intensity of the investigation, the accuracy of the information available, and the organization running the check.

Generally, a fundamental background check can be done in a few minutes to a few days, but more thorough examinations, for example, international checks, may take several weeks or months.

Duration for background verification may differ depending on the type of industry and occupation. Sectors like healthcare and teaching may have rigorous standards and thus take longer to finish the background check.

It’s essential to remember that companies must comply with both federal and state regulations when running background checks, which can also influence the length of the process.

Furthermore, there may be hold-ups if any extra data is required or if the person who is being investigated has lived in different places.

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What Are Turnaround Times for Employment Background Checks?

The length of time it takes to carry out an employment background check can vary, depending on the kind of data that the employer requires.

If the process requires manual searches or the support of outside agencies, such as universities or professional license certifications, it can take up to five business days. It can be even faster if the necessary information is readily accessible.

Background investigations are a common process when someone applies for a job. Employers may also do recurrent checks on their current employees, for instance through annual criminal records checks or drug testing, to make sure the workplace is secure.

An employment background check could contain, but is not limited to, an individual’s employment history, educational background, credit score, driving record, criminal record, medical records, social media activity, and drug screening.

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What Are Turnaround Times for Criminal Background Checks?

Generally, a criminal record search can take from one to three business days; however, it can be turned around much faster depending on the database being examined, for instance, the National Criminal Database.

Instant background check services can provide you with rapid results. The outcomes include essential data that are searchable on the web through specific databases to which an approved background check supplier has access.

It usually comprises essential searches such as a Social Security number (SSN) track, a national criminal database search, and a sex offender registry search.

As a background check provider is usually able to gather this information swiftly, turnaround times are almost instantaneous.

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What Are Turnaround Times for Federal Background Checks?

An individual’s criminal past can be examined by searching through sex offender registries, county criminal court documents, regional and global terrorist watchlists, and state and federal criminal records.

Depending on the manual search requirements, these databases can take up to three days to examine. The usual turnaround for a federal background check is one day.

A federal background check looks through the 94 United States federal courts for any offenses against federal criminal law, like federal tax evasion, mail fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, trafficking between states, and criminal activity on federal land.

A background check by the federal government only searches for violations of federal law and does not include convictions at the state level.

Hence, employers usually look into both federal and state criminal records to have a full picture of an applicant’s criminal history, especially when they’re hiring top executives, CPAs, people employed in the public sector, or those who will have access to sensitive financial data.

The check usually covers records going as far back as seven years or even more, depending on the laws of the state and any special conditions.

Turnaround Time for Fingerprint Background Checks

When a fingerprint background check is conducted, the person’s prints are compared to those stored in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), a database of fingerprints that the FBI oversees.

If a match is found, the results will be relayed within three days. This type of background check is frequently done in addition to other background investigations, mainly ones that occur before employment.

Certain government-run facilities such as public schools, airports, law enforcement, firefighting, and medical organizations necessitate a fingerprint background check as part of the hiring process.

Some employers may choose to require a fingerprint background check if the position involves working with minors, the elderly, or other individuals who are especially vulnerable.

If your fingerprints are not of good quality, it could take longer for the processing to be done, or it could mean starting the whole process again. It may take longer to get the results if there is a criminal record linked to the fingerprints.

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If this is the first time you’re giving your fingerprints for a background check, the results will simply not be returned. At that moment, your fingerprints will be sent to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).

Other Types of Background Checks and How Long They Take

Identity Verification

The most rudimentary form of a background investigation is identity confirmation. This is undertaken to confirm that the person being evaluated is the one they claim to be.

These examinations are meant to ensure that the details provided by the applicant, for example, their name and Social Security Number (SSN), are accurate and genuine. This is usually done through SSN tracing.

Education Verification

Employers perform education verification to certify the academic qualifications of a job applicant. Generally, this kind of investigation confirms the diploma(s) obtained and the college(s) the person attended. It could also indicate the individual’s grade point average.

Licensing Verification

When hiring a person to do a job that requires a professional license or qualification, it’s necessary to check if they have the required permit.

This includes confirming with the responsible authority that the employee has the license, their status with them is good and what is the expiry date of that license.

Employment Verification

A few employers opt to do background checks to verify a job applicant’s work record. This usually means telephoning the person’s former employers to validate their work period.

It should be noted that a conventional employment verification review will yield relatively scanty data. Most employers will only affirm the dates of employment and sometimes if the individual is qualified to be rehired.

If you’re looking to ask more performance-related questions, request the job applicant to provide particular references to call who can discuss their earlier accomplishments.

Driving Record Checks

If a staff member is going to be driving for work-related tasks on behalf of your company, it’s best to acquire a motor vehicle record (MVR) report to review their driving history.

This report will give you a record of the individual’s past driving behavior, including any violations and accidents. Additionally, the report will provide information about the driver’s license, including the expiration date, suspensions, and if they have a commercial driver’s license.

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Credit Background Checks

Credit background screenings enable employers to investigate an applicant’s past credit activity and present financial circumstances. The data for these assessments is sourced from credit bureaus, much like the credit assessments that are done for borrowing or lending.

Small businesses should be particularly cautious when running this type of background check.

Examining a job seeker’s credit history can give employers an idea of how they deal with money and if they will be trustworthy with large sums of money or confidential company or customer fiscal data.

Even so, this is the background check with the most stringent legal regulations. Employers must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when using credit checks for employment decisions.

If a credit check is carried out and the results lead to an individual not being selected, a specific procedure must be followed.

This requires obtaining consent from the person on an authorized release form. If a person is rejected based on the details of their credit report, they should be notified of this and given a copy of the report to rectify any discrepancies or provide an explanation.

Why Is My Background Check Taking So Long?

If it has been a couple of weeks since you submitted your background check and you haven’t had any response yet, don’t worry. There are a few possible explanations for the delay, such as

  • The potential employer having your background check but not making a final decision on hiring you yet
  • The third-party background check company running behind schedule
  • Certain records not matching in your background check and the employer verifying the information

The background check organization might be expecting a forthcoming regional court record for one of the reasons.

For instance, if the company needs criminal records from a region without digital assets or a court that’s understaffed, the process can take more time and you just need to wait. It’s also a waiting game if the employer does background checks for numerous candidates.

You may have passed your background check with flying colors, yet the employer is considering other factors like aptitude before hiring.

Finally, the employer may contact you if there are any issues with verifying your details or if a photo of an ID, driver’s license, or social security card is missing. Make sure to monitor your email (including spam!) to evade skipping any background check questions.

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Possible Reasons for a Delay

If the process of investigating your history is taking more than three to five days, the following could be some of the explanations for the postponement:

  • If an individual has gone by different names, such as Steve, Steven, or Stephen, then this can result in a delay during the background check process. Mixing up an individual’s record with someone who shares the same or similar name can also cause a setback.
  • The main source of delay in the background checks is usually due to incorrect or incomplete forms that must be provided by the employer or job applicant, as per federal regulations. The check cannot commence until the agency has written permission.
  • Most of the court records are not stored digitally and have to be accessed manually. This process can take anywhere between 3 and 30 days.
  • For those who have resided in a foreign country in the last 10 years, an international background check may be necessary. This process generally takes 4 to 5 days, but some countries have strict privacy laws, and can take up to 20 days for completion.
  • The background check service might have to search multiple sources for the info the employer needs, and some databases and sources, including schools or past employers, might require more time to search or validate than others.

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Bottom Line on How Long Does a Background Check Take

The span of a background examination can shift depending on the multifaceted nature and profundity of the examination, just as the responsiveness of the related sources.

Generally, most essential background checks can be finished within a couple of days to a week, while more far-reaching examinations can take a couple of weeks to a few months.

For fast background checks, BeenVerified, PeopleLooker, TruthFinder, and Intelius are all respectable and dependable administrations that offer short turnaround occasions.

BeenVerified is celebrated for its easy-to-use interface and speedy outcomes, frequently conveying reports in a matter of minutes. TruthFinder and Intelius likewise offer speedy and thorough background checks, with reports typically accessible in seconds.

It’s essential to be aware that, although these services provide convenient and effective background checks, they should not be relied on as the only data source to verify someone’s past.

It’s always wise to complete extra research and be thorough when making critical decisions, such as hiring someone and utilizing these reports.

Disclaimer: The background check services mentioned above are not FCRA-compliant. Hence, we don’t recommend using their service or the information they provide to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance.

>> Try BeenVerified >>

DISCLAIMER: You may not use the non-FCRA approved services mentioned in this article or the information they provide to decide about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance. These services don’t provide consumer reports and are not consumer reporting agencies. (These terms have special meanings under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq., (“FCRA”), which are incorporated herein by reference.)

The information available on our website may not be 100% accurate, complete, or up to date, so do not use it as a substitute for your own due diligence, especially if you have concerns about a person’s criminal history. The services we mention do not make any representation or warranty about the accuracy of the information available through our website or about the character or integrity of the person about whom you inquire. For more information, please review each service’s Terms of Use.

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