How Long Does a Background Check Take? Complete Guide 2023

10:49 AM, Mar 03, 2023
10:50 AM, Mar 03, 2023
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How long does it take for a background check? It can take as little as a few minutes or as long as five business days, depending on the type of background check, the information sought, and the data sources.

Learn out the typical turnaround times for background checks as well as what to do if one takes too long. Use BeenVerified if you're looking for a quick background check service that can produce results in just a few minutes!

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

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Background checks come in many various forms, and depending on the information sought, the constraints of the data source, and the applicable laws, varying turnaround times apply to each type.

It could take up to five days of business activity or, in some cases, less than sixty seconds to finish a background investigation, depending on the particular data an employer needs.

If the need arises to conduct manual searches or seek help from external sources like professional licensing certifications, universities and prior employers, it will take additional time for the completion of the task.

Continue reading for more information on typical turnaround times for popular background checks, as well as information on the purposes for which these checks are utilized, how the data is accessible, and potential causes of potential delays.

Use our suggested background check services if you're seeking for quick background checks that only take a few minutes to deliver thorough results:

Disclaimer: The aforementioned background check services are not FCRA compliant. As a result, we do not advise using their service or the data they offer to decide on consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other matter that calls for FCRA compliance.

What Are Turnaround Times for Employment Background Checks?
A background check may take up to five business days, or it may be completed in less than a minute, depending on the specific information an employer requires.

If manual searches or assistance from other institutions, such as professional licensing certifications, universities, and prior employers, is necessary, it can take longer.

When you apply for a job, employment background checks are frequently required. To ensure a safe workplace, employers frequently conduct ongoing background checks on current employees through annual criminal background checks or routine employee drug testing.

Your work history, education, credit history, driving record, criminal history, medical history, usage of social media, and drug testing are just a few examples of the things that can be included in an employment background check.

What Are Turnaround Times for Criminal Background Checks?


The amount of time it takes to receive the results of a criminal background check can vary greatly, depending on the database that is being queried. If the National Crime Database is used, the results can be obtained much quicker than usual, usually within 1-3 business days.

You can get turnaround times from instant background check providers. The outcomes comprise fundamental data that may be looked up online using specialized databases to which a reputable background check company has access.

Basic searches like a Social Security number (SSN) trace, a check of the national criminal database, and a search of the sex offender register are frequently included.

Turnaround times are nearly instantaneous because a background check provider can often acquire this information rapidly.

What Are Turnaround Times for Federal Background Checks?

When doing a criminal background check, it is possible to search databases for sex offenders, consult county court records, find out if someone is on a list of domestic or international terrorists, and examine state and federal criminal accounts.

Depending on how many manual searches are necessary, additional searches of these databases could take one to three days.

For a federal background check, one day is the usual turnaround time.

When a federal background check is conducted, it looks through the 94 federal courts in the United States to search for any federal criminal offenses, including tax evasion, mail fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, interstate trafficking, and offenses committed on federal property.

Employers tend to look into a person's entire criminal record by checking both federal and state records because a federal background check only covers offenses tried in federal courts and does not include convictions that occurred in state courts.

This is especially true if they are hiring for C-level executive positions, CPAs, public sector employees, or people who will have access to confidential financial information.

Depending on state regulations and unique circumstances, the check often covers records going back seven years or longer.

Turnaround Time for Fingerprint Background Checks

An IAFIS fingerprint database, which has the fingerprints of more than 35 million Americans and is maintained by the FBI, is used in a fingerprint background check to submit and compare your fingerprints. Within three days, you will receive a response if there is a successful match.

Together with other background checks, most notably job background checks, a fingerprint background check is frequently employed.

Government-run facilities like public schools, airports, police enforcement, fire departments, and hospitals are all mandated to do a fingerprint check. If you'll be taking care of children, the elderly, or other sensitive persons, other companies might need a fingerprint background check.

If your prints are of poor quality, it might be necessary to process them more slowly or to start over. If your fingerprints are linked to a criminal past, it can take longer as well.

The check will simply return no results if you have never had your fingerprints taken before, at which point your prints will be sent to the IAFIS.

Other Types of Background Checks and How Long They Take

Identity Verification

Identity verification is the most fundamental type of background investigation. The candidate's identity is checked to make sure they are who they say they are.

These examinations confirm the accuracy and validity of the applicant's submitted identifying information, such as name and Social Security number (SSN). SSN tracing is a common method for doing this.

Education Verification

The potential employee's educational background is verified using education records. This kind of background investigation typically verifies the degree(s) obtained, and the institution(s) attended. They might also display the worker's GPA.

Licensing Verification

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You must confirm that a prospective employee currently holds any professional licenses or certifications required for the position before hiring them. This usually involves checking with the licensing authority to see if the employee has the license, is in good standing with the licensing agency, and when the license expires.

Employment Verification
Some employers decide to check the job history of potential hires by conducting background checks. To confirm the candidate's work dates, this usually entails calling prior employers.

Remember that a standard employment verification check will only provide you with a restricted amount of data. Most firms will just confirm an employee's employment dates and, occasionally, whether they are qualified for rehire.

Ask the job applicant for specific references you can contact to learn more about their prior performance if you wish to ask more performance-based inquiries.

Driving Record Checks
You should get a motor vehicle record (MVR) report to check the employee's driving history if they will be using a car for company activity. A record of the applicant's driving history, including tickets and accidents, is provided through an MVR report.

Also, it offers details on their driver's license, including its expiration date, any license suspensions, and particulars about commercial driver's licenses.

Credit Background Checks
Credit background checks give information on a job applicant's credit history and present financial situation. Similar to credit checks performed for finance or lending purposes, the data for these reports is bullied from credit agencies.

Small businesses should be especially wary of performing this kind of background investigation.

If a candidate will have access to a significant amount of cash or confidential company or customer financial information, reviewing their credit history might give you important information about their financial problems and sense of responsibility with money.

The background check with the most legal restrictions is this one, though.

When utilizing credit checks to determine hiring, employers must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

There is a precise procedure that you must adhere to if you decide to perform a credit screening and subsequently decide not to continue with the employment of a candidate as a result of the findings. This includes getting consent on a legal release form.

You must provide a candidate with notice and a copy of the credit report if you decide not to proceed with them based on the findings of their credit report. This gives them the opportunity to correct any errors or offer an explanation.

Why Is My Background Check Taking So Long?

Have a few weeks passed since your background check, and you still haven't received a response? Not to worry. Here are some potential causes of the delay:

  • The background check vendor is running behind schedule
  • Your background check has been given to the prospective employer, but they haven't yet made the final hiring decision
  • The company is checking the facts because some records in your background check (such as employment information) don't match

The first explanation could be that the background check business is awaiting, say, a pending county courtroom record.

For instance, the process can take longer if a business needs criminal records from a county without digital tools or a courtroom with insufficient employees. In this case, you'll just have to wait.

If the business is conducting background checks on several candidates, it becomes a waiting game as well. Even though you may have aced your background check, the employer will still consider other aspects like skill set when making a hiring decision.

Finally, if there are issues with validating your information or if a photo of an ID, driver's license, or SSN card is absent, the employer may get in touch with you. Check your email frequently, including the junk folder, to prevent missing any background check-related inquiries.

Possible Reasons for a Delay

Here are a few possible causes for your background check to be delayed if it is taking more than three to five days:

  • The most frequent causes of delays include incorrect or incomplete check request forms, as well as an employer's failure to get the requisite authorization and release paperwork from job applicants, as required by federal law.

Agency background checks cannot begin until they have received written authorization.

  • The majority of county court records are not entirely digitized. Hence, a county clerk or court runner must usually conduct those searches manually. The duration of the manual search can range from 3 to 30 days, depending on the county or case.
  • An international background check might be necessary if you have recently resided abroad for employment or studies (within the last ten years, depending on the company). Depending on the country's cooperation, these checks often take four to five days. 

Nevertheless, certain nations have strict privacy protection laws, so they can take up to 20 days to complete.

  • Aliases and name variations, such as Steve, Steven, or Stephen, can slow down the background check process and necessitate a human verification of your identity.

Your background check may also take longer if you've used different names in the past or if it turns up that you and someone else with the same or a similar name have the same records.

  • In order to obtain the necessary details for an employer, a background check service may need to search in several locations, and some sources, like educational institutions or previous employers, may take longer to search or confirm than other sources.

Bottom Line

The intricacy and breadth of the research, as well as the responsiveness of the sources involved, can all affect how long a background check takes.

While more thorough background checks can take several weeks to a few months, the majority of basic ones can be finished in a few days to a week.

BeenVerified, TruthFinder, and Intelius are all known and trustworthy companies that provide speedy turnaround times for background checks. BeenVerified is renowned for its user-friendly design and quick findings, frequently sending reports in only a few minutes.

Fast and thorough background checks are also accessible via TruthFinder and Intelius, with results often available in a matter of seconds.

Although these services make it easy and quick to examine someone's background, it's vital to remember that they shouldn't be used as the only method. When making significant decisions like hiring, it's always a good idea to enhance these reports with further research and due diligence.

Disclaimer:The aforementioned background check services are not FCRA compliant. As a result, we do not advise using their service or the data they offer to decide on consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other matter that calls for FCRA compliance.

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