How Long Does a Background Check Take? – Find Out Here

4:42 PM, Apr 03, 2023
4:42 PM, Apr 03, 2023

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What is the typical duration of a background check? The investigation timeline may vary based on the kind of background check conducted, the information requested, and the data sources used. It might be as brief as a few minutes or as long as five business days. 

Find out what the average turnaround times for background checks are and what steps to take if the screening process takes an extended period. 

If you would like an instantaneous background check service that can deliver results immediately, BeenVerified might be the right choice for you!



How Long Does A Background Check Take?

Various kinds of background checks exist, and the amount of time it takes to obtain the information depends on the type of information asked for, the resources available to obtain the data and regulations. 

Depending on the data an employer wants, a background check can be completed in under a minute or take up to five business days. If it involves manual research or cooperation from other entities, such as licensing boards, educational institutions, or prior places of employment, it could take longer.

Get more knowledge about regular completion periods for ordinary background checks and comprehend what these checks are used for, how the information is obtained, and why the turnaround times might be postponed.

If you require a background check that offers complete information quickly, we advise you to utilize our suggested 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 inquire to authenticate details about a person. This could include work experience, educational qualifications, criminal records, illicit drug screening credit standing, etc. 

Such a background check intends to confirm that the individual is suitable and dependable.

How long it takes to finish a background check varies depending on the kind of search, the amount of research involved, the precision of the data supplied, and the group doing the screening. 

On average, a standard background check can take from several minutes to several days to finish, while a more thorough assessment, like a global check, may take up to a few weeks or even months.

The amount of time it takes to finish a background check can differ depending on the industry and job role. Sectors such as healthcare and education that require stricter criteria may take longer to finish a background check. 

Moreover, organizations need to abide by federal and state laws when carrying out background checks, which can also influence the length of the procedure. Furthermore, there might be interruptions if extra data is required or if the individual being checked has lived in multiple places.

What Are Turnaround Times For Employment Background Checks?

The time required to complete the background check depends on the type of information a prospective employer needs. Sometimes, the process can be completed within a minute, while in other cases, it can take up to five business days. 

This timeline may be extended if manual searches or assistance from certain organizations, like universities and licensing boards, are required.

Background checks are a routine part of the hiring process, and some employers also choose to perform checks on current staff through drug tests or criminal screenings to maintain workplace safety. 

The range of details included in a background check may vary. Still, it typically includes one's credit score, criminal past, employment record, social media use, educational history, driving record, medical background, and drug screening.



What Are Turnaround Times For Criminal Background Checks?

Usually, criminal background checks take one to three days, but they can be finished more quickly depending on which database is being searched, like the National Criminal Database. Services providing quick background checks can supply results right away. 

This can include information that can be accessed through various sites that a reputable background check provider can access. This usually includes details like a national criminal database investigation, Social Security number trace, and a sexual offender registry search. 

As these checks can usually be done quickly, the turnaround times are usually immediate.

What Are Turnaround Times For Federal Background Checks?

A criminal background investigation may involve a review of sex offender registries, county criminal court documents, terrorist watch lists both domestically and abroad, and both federal and state criminal documents. 

Depending on the manual search requirements, an extra search of these databases can take anywhere from one to three days.

Typically, it only takes one day for a federal background check to be conducted. 

This type of evaluation will search through all 94 federal court systems in the US to determine if an individual has committed any federal offenses, such as identity fraud, avoiding taxes, smuggling across state lines, stealing mail, misappropriation of funds, and misdemeanors committed on federal land.

Since a federal background check will only check for offenses pursued at the federal level and not for convictions at the state level, many employers will investigate both federal and state criminal records. 

This is done to get a total report on an individual's full criminal background, particularly if they are recruiting for public sector workers, higher-level executive roles, CPAs, or someone who will be granted access to confidential financial data.

A background check typically includes information from a minimum of seven years back, though this might change depending on the laws of the state and any special cases.



Turnaround Time For Fingerprint Background Checks

When a fingerprint background check is conducted, your fingerprints are sent to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), a vast repository of fingerprints maintained by the FBI that identifies over 35 million people in the United States. 

If the system finds a corresponding set of prints, it will respond in three days.

A fingerprint background check is very commonly used alongside other types of a background screening, largely in the context of employment. It is a requirement in fire departments, public schools, law enforcement agencies, airports, and medical centers. 

Other employers may also ask for a fingerprint check if the job involves looking after minors, elderly people, or individuals who are at risk.

If the quality of your scanned prints is not up to par, it might take more time to process the request, or you may need to start again. Moreover, if your fingerprints have been linked to a criminal background history, then it may take even longer to get the results.

On the other hand, if you’ve never been fingerprinted before your background check, the process will not provide any results, and your prints will be sent to IAFIS at that point.



Other Types Of Background Checks And How Long They Take

Identity Verification

The fundamental type of background investigation is identity confirmation. This is completed to prove that the individual is who they profess to be. 

These examinations validate the data provided by the applicant, such as their name and Social Security number. This is typically done using SSN tracing.

Education Verification

Education verification is employed to confirm a job applicant's academic qualifications. Generally, this type of background assessment will prove the diploma(s) acquired and the educational facility(s) visited. 

The background check may also uncover the individual's Grade Point Average.

Licensing Verification

If you are bringing someone on board for a job requiring a professional license or qualification, you must check that they have the license. 

This usually entails confirming with the licensing organization that the employee has the license, that they comply with it, and when the license will expire.

Employment Verification

Certain employers decide to do background checks to confirm the hiring candidate's job background. This often involves getting in touch with previous employers to validate the applicant's duration of employment.

When you conduct a regular background check, you will not get much information. Employers will typically just verify the duration of the individual’s employment and if they can be rehired. 

If you desire to have more details related to the applicant’s abilities, then you should request that they provide references who can provide an assessment of their job performance.

Driving Record Checks

If an individual is going to be operating a vehicle on behalf of your organization, it is essential to review their driving background by obtaining a motor vehicle record (MVR) report. This type of report summarizes the applicant's driving background, including traffic tickets and car crashes. 

It also provides information about their driver's license, including the license revocations, expiration date, and commercial driver's license specifics.

Credit Background Checks

Background investigations into an individual's credit score can inform employers of their financial history and current situation. This data is collected from credit agencies, just as it would be for a loan or some other kind of financing. 

This is the kind of check that small companies should be most careful with. 

Looking into a job applicant's credit record can be advantageous since it can provide insight into their financial dependability and aptitude with money, which would be advantageous if they were to manage a considerable sum of money or possess access to delicate company or client financial information. 

However, this is the type of background check that has the strictest legal requirements.

Companies must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when using credit screenings in the hiring process. If a credit screening is conducted and the applicant is not chosen due to the results, a precise procedure must be followed. 

This involves getting permission on an appropriate permission form. If the candidate is not chosen based on the credit report, they must receive a notification as well as a copy of the document and be allowed to remove any errors or give an explanation.



Why Is My Background Check Taking So Long?

If it's been a couple of weeks since you submitted your background check and you haven't heard back yet, there's no need to worry. There could be several explanations for the delay in the process.

  • The employer is looking into discrepancies between your background check and the information they have on record 
  • They haven't concluded the hiring decision yet
  • The third-party responsible for the background check is experiencing delays

As a possible explanation, the background check site could be waiting on a county courthouse document that has yet to be finalized.

For instance, if an organization desires criminal records from a county with no online resources or a courthouse that is understaffed, the procedure might take longer, and you would just have to be patient.

It’s also a waiting game if the employer conducts background checks for more than one applicant. You might have excelled in your background check, but the employer is evaluating other aspects, such as your skill set, before making a hiring decision.

The employer may need to contact you if they struggle to confirm the details you provided or if a picture of your driver's license, social security number card, or ID is not included. 

Make sure to keep an eye on your email inbox (including the spam folder!) so you don't miss any questions related to the background check.

Possible Reasons For A Delay

If the completion of your background check is going on for more than three to five days, the following are some potential causes for the delay:

  • When you have used aliases or have gone by different names (for example, Steven, Steve, and Stephen), it can cause a delay in the background check process and necessitate a manual inspection by the background check service to validate your identity. Furthermore, if you have used different names in the past or if your information is blended with another person with a similar name, it can cause a holdup in the background check results.
  • Many county court documents have not yet been digitized, so they must be looked up manually. This typically requires a county clerk or court runner to physically search the records. The length of time needed to finish the inspection of the documents varies from county to county and, based on the case, ranges from 3 to 30 days.
  • The background check process may involve searching several sources for the details that the employer requires, and some sources, such as educational institutions or previous employers, may take more time to look into or authenticate than other sources.
  • If you have resided in a foreign nation in the past decade due to a job or studying, some employers may ask for you to undergo an international background investigation. These assessments normally take four to five days to finish, depending on how fast the foreign government supplies the pertinent information. However, certain countries have tight data protection regulations so the process could take up to 20 days.
  • The main cause of a postponement is when the check request forms provided are incomplete or inaccurate or when the employer does not obtain the necessary consent and release forms signed by the job candidate, which the federal government mandates. The agencies can't initiate the background check until they receive written approval.



Bottom Line On How Long Does A Background Check Take 

The time needed to finish a background check can vary depending on the amount of detail needed and the speed of the people being asked for the information. 

Generally, simple background checks can take anywhere from a few days to a week to complete, while more thorough investigations may take a few weeks to a few months.

When you need to conduct a quick background check BeenVerified, TruthFinder, Intelius, and are all dependable and trustworthy services that provide prompt results. 

BeenVerified is especially renowned for its easy-to-navigate interface and fast responses, usually providing reports in a few minutes. TruthFinder and Intelius also provide swift and thorough background checks, with reports usually ready quickly.

When utilizing background check services, it is crucial to remember that they should not be the only method of confirming someone's background. It is highly recommended to add more research and caution to the process, especially when making crucial decisions like hiring.



DISCLAIMER: You may not use the non-FCRA approved services mentioned in this article or the information they provide to make decisions 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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