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How Long Does Background Check Take to Provide a Report

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The duration of a background check varies depending on several factors, including the specific type of check, the information being sought, and the sources being utilized. The process can take anywhere from a few minutes to as long as five working days.

If you’re curious about typical turnaround times for background checks and how to handle situations where they exceed expectations, read on. In instances where immediate results are desired, consider using BeenVerified, an instant background check service capable of providing comprehensive reports in just minutes.

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

A wide range of background checks exist, and the time it takes to complete each check varies depending on the specific information requested, limitations imposed by data sources, and legal obligations.

The duration for a background check to be completed can be as short as under a minute or extend up to five business days, contingent upon the nature of the information required. 

In cases where manual searches or collaboration with external organizations like professional license certifiers, universities, and previous employers are necessary, the process may take longer.

For additional available insights into average turnaround times for various types of background checks, alongside their purposes, methods of accessing data, and potential factors contributing to delays in completion, continue reading further.

If you are seeking expedited background checks that provide comprehensive results within minutes, we recommend trying our preferred services for conducting thorough background checks.

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

A background check involves searching an individual’s background by an organization or individual to authenticate various aspects of their personal and professional life. 

This examination typically encompasses criminal records, educational and employment history, credit records, and drug tests. Its primary objective is to ascertain the eligibility and reliability of the individual under scrutiny.

The timeframe required to conduct a background check hinges on multiple factors, including the nature and depth of the search, the relevancy of the provided information, and the entity overseeing the process. 

A standard background check may conclude within minutes to several days, while comprehensive inquiries, especially those involving international facets, could extend over several weeks or even months.

The duration of background checks varies across industries. Certain sectors, such as healthcare and education, often mandate more rigorous scrutiny, thus prolonging the assessment period.

It’s essential to adhere to state and federal regulations during the background check process, as non-compliance can impact its duration. Delays may arise due to the need for further information or if the individual resides in multiple locations.

What Are Turnaround Times for Employment Background Checks?

The time it takes to complete a background check can vary depending on the information required by the employer. In some cases, a background check can be completed in less than a minute, while in other instances, it may take up to five business days. 

If manual searches or cooperation from external organizations such as professional license certifiers, universities, or previous employers are necessary, the process may take even longer.

An employment background check encompasses various aspects, including your employment history, educational backgrounds, driving record, criminal record, if applicable, medical history, social media activity, and drug checking results. 

Note that these aren’t exhaustive, and other relevant factors may also be considered during the process.

What Are Turnaround Times for Criminal Background Checks?

A typical criminal background check usually requires one to three business days. However, the duration can vary depending on the specific searched database, like the National Criminal Database.

You can expect much quicker results if you opt for instant background check services. These services utilize specialized databases accessible only by verified background check providers

The information they provide is readily available online and includes basic details such as a Social Security number (SSN) trace, a search of the national criminal database, and a search through the sex offender registry.

Thanks to their ability to quickly gather this information, turnaround times for background checks are nearly instantaneous.

What Are Turnaround Times for Federal Background Checks?

A criminal background check may encompass searching through sex offender registries, county criminal court documents, domestic and international terrorist watch lists, and federal and state criminal databases. 

Additional inquiries into these databases can range from one to three days, contingent upon the necessity for manual searches.

The standard processing time for a federal background check is approximately one day. This examination delves into violations of federal criminal statutes across the 94 U.S. federal courts, encompassing federal tax evasion, mail fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, interstate trafficking, and crimes occurring on federal premises.

Given that a federal background check exclusively scrutinizes federal-level prosecutions, omitting state-level convictions, most employers opt to conduct federal and state criminal record checks to acquire an overview of an applicant’s entire criminal history, particularly for positions at the C-level, CPAs, public sector roles, or positions involving access to financial data.

This scrutiny spans records from the past seven years or beyond, depending on state regulations and specific circumstances.

Turnaround Time for Fingerprint Background Checks

A fingerprint background check involves submitting and comparing your fingerprints with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), a database managed by the FBI containing fingerprints of over 35 million Americans. Upon a successful match, results are typically returned within three days.

Employers often use fingerprint background checks with other background checking methods, particularly for employment purposes. Certain institutions mandated by the government, such as public schools, airports, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and hospitals, require this type of check. 

Poor-quality fingerprints may lead to extended processing times or the need to redo the procedure. If there’s a criminal history associated with the fingerprints, the process may take longer.

For individuals undergoing fingerprint background checks for the first time, the absence of prior fingerprint records will result in no match found, prompting the submission of prints to the IAFIS database.

Other Types of Background Checks and How Long They Take

Identity Verification

Identity verification is the most fundamental aspect of background checking. Its purpose is to confirm the candidate’s true identity. 

These checks ensure that the applicant’s provided identifying details, like their name and Social Security number (SSN), are legitimate. The process commonly involves SSN tracing to establish authenticity.

Education History

Education history is a crucial process that aims to authenticate the educational backgrounds of a potential employee. 

This type of background check primarily focuses on verifying the degrees obtained and the educational institutions attended by the individual. It may also provide information regarding their grade point average (GPA).

Licensing Verification

When hiring an individual for a position that requires a professional license or certification, it is crucial to confirm their current possession of the said license. This verification process usually entails checking with the licensing authority to ensure that the employee holds a valid license, has maintained good standing with the licensing body, and determines the expiration date of the license.

Employment Verification

Certain employers opt to carry out background checks in order to validate the history of a potential employee. This process usually entails contacting previous employers to verify the duration of the candidate’s employment.

It is important to note that a typical employment verification check will provide relatively limited information. In most cases, employers only confirm the dates of employment and occasionally whether or not the individual is eligible for rehiring. 

Driving Record Checks

If your employee will be driving for business on behalf of your company, review their driving record by obtaining a motor vehicle report (MVR). 

An MVR report contains a detailed history of the applicant’s driving, including any tickets or accidents. It includes information about their driver’s license, such as expiration date, license suspensions, and commercial driver’s license details. 

Ensuring the safety and reliability of your employees’ driving is crucial when they are representing your business. Therefore, conducting an MVR check is essential in making informed hiring decisions.

Credit Background Checks

Credit background checks offer insights into a candidate’s credit history and current financial status. The data for these reports is gathered from credit bureaus, akin to the checks performed for financing or lending purposes. This type of background check is particularly crucial for small businesses to approach with caution. 

Scrutinizing a candidate’s credit history can offer a valuable understanding of their financial circumstances and how they manage money, especially if they handle significant cash amounts or sensitive company/client financial information. Nonetheless, this type of background check comes with stringent legal requirements.

Employers must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when utilizing credit checks for hiring decisions. If opting to conduct a credit screening and subsequently deciding not to proceed with hiring based on the findings, a specific procedure must be followed. This includes obtaining consent through a compliant release form. 

Should a decision not to proceed with a candidate be made based on their credit report, the employer must provide them with notice, a copy of the report, and the opportunity to rectify any inaccuracies or offer an explanation.

Why Is My Background Check Taking So Long?

If it’s been a couple of weeks and you still haven’t received any updates on your background check, there’s no need to worry just yet. Here are a few potential reasons for the delay:

  • The third-party background check company may be experiencing delays in processing.
  • While the potential employer has received your background check, they might still be discussing the final hiring decision.
  • Certain discrepancies, such as mismatched employment information, could be causing a hold-up as the employer verifies the data.

Sometimes, the background check company might be awaiting specific records, such as those from a county courthouse with limited digital resources or staffing issues, prolonging the process.

If the employer conducts background checks for multiple candidates, it could contribute to a longer wait time as they assess various factors beyond the background check results, such as skill sets.

Lastly, the employer may contact you if any issues are verifying your information or if essential documents like a photo ID, driver’s license, or SSN card are missing. Regularly check your email, including spam folders, to ensure you don’t miss any inquiries regarding your background check.

Possible Reasons for a Delay

If your background check is extending beyond the anticipated timeframe of three to five days, several factors might contribute to the delay:

  • One common cause is incomplete or inaccurate check request forms or the failure of the employer to obtain the necessary authorization and release forms signed by the job applicant, as mandated by federal law. Background check agencies cannot initiate the process until they have received written consent.
  • County court records are often not digitized, necessitating manual searches by county clerks or court runners. Completing the manual portion of the search can vary widely, taking anywhere from 3 to 30 days, depending on the county or specific case.
  • For individuals who have lived abroad for education or employment purposes within the past decade, certain employers may require an international background check. These checks typically take four to five days, contingent upon the level of cooperation from the respective country. However, the process may extend to 20 days in jurisdictions with stringent privacy laws.
  • Name variations or aliases (such as Steve, Steven, Stephen) can introduce delays, as they necessitate a manual verification process by the background check service to ascertain identity. Past use of different names or confusion with individuals sharing a similar or identical name can further impede the background check process.
  • Background check services may need to comb through multiple sources to gather the requisite information for the employer. Specific databases and sources, such as educational institutions or former employers may require more time for verification than others.

Bottom Line on How Long Does a Background Check Take

The length of time it takes to complete a background check can vary based on the level of complexity and thoroughness required, as well as how cooperative the sources are. However, basic background checks usually wrap up within a few days to a week, while a more in-depth search can take several weeks to a couple of months.

When you need a speedy background check, reputable and dependable services like BeenVerified, TruthFinder, and Intelius come highly recommended. 

BeenVerified stands out for its user-friendly interface and quick results that often arrive within minutes. TruthFinder and Intelius also offer quick turnaround times for comprehensive background checks, with reports typically ready in seconds.

While these services provide convenient and efficient options for conducting background checks, remember that they shouldn’t be solely relied upon when verifying someone’s background. 

It’s always wise to supplement these reports by conducting additional research and exercising due diligence, especially if you’re making significant decisions such as hiring someone new. 

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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 here 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.