Background checks have become an integral part of different aspects of life. Many employers require potential employees to undergo a background check, and landlords often run background checks on potential tenants.
Even people looking for romantic partners sometimes run background checks on their potential dates.
So, how long does a background check take? The answer depends on a few factors, including the type of background check performed and the resources available to the person or organization running the check.
Read on to learn more about the different types of background checks and how long they generally take to complete.
What Is A Background Check
A background check is a “check” or investigation into someone’s past, typically performed in order to confirm that person’s suitability for a particular job, rental agreement, or other transaction.
Different types of background checks can cover different aspects of a person’s life, but most commonly, they include some combination of the following:
- Criminal history
- Employment history
- Educational background
- Financial history
Organizations that commonly request background checks include employers, landlords, and dating websites.
In some cases, a background check may also be required for a loan or other financial transaction.
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How Long Does a Background Check Take?
Depending on the background check type, the process can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.
An FBI check can take 30 days or so, while a basic state criminal check can usually be completed in one day.
There are “instant” background checks available as well. However, these usually rely on insufficient information to speed up the process and may not provide an accurate picture of someone’s past.
If a complete and accurate report is important to you, it’s best to request a formal background check that can take a few days to complete.
How Long Do Different Types Of Background Checks Take?
As mentioned above, the length of time it takes to complete a background check varies depending on the type of check being performed.
Here is a closer look at some of the most common types of background checks and how long they typically take:
- Employment Background Check
An employment background check can take up to five business days or be completed in less than a minute, depending on the specific information an employer is looking for.
The most common type of employment background check is a criminal records check, which can usually be completed quickly.
However, the process can take longer if an employer wants to verify an applicant’s employment history or educational background.
Employment background checks are usually a requirement for jobs that involve working with children or vulnerable adults, handling money, or having access to sensitive information.
To guarantee a safe workplace, employers need to know that their employees can be trusted.
- Criminal Background Check
A criminal background check can usually take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks, depending on the resources available to the person or organization running the check.
In most cases, a criminal background check will include a search of national and state databases for any criminal records that match the subject’s name and date of birth.
However, the process can take longer if the person has used multiple names or aliases.
The background check can take one to two business days if the candidate’s criminal history is limited to a single state or country of origin. However, verifying overseas records takes a lot longer, sometimes exceeding two weeks.
- Credit Checks
Credit checks are often required for jobs that involve handling money or accessing sensitive financial information. They can also be used as a screening tool for rental applications.
Most credit checks return within minutes. In some cases, the candidate’s credit report will show as unavailable if they don’t have enough credit history. In this case, the check could take up to two weeks.
Are Background Check Delays Possible?
Yes, delays are possible with any type of background check. The most common reason for a delay is that the subject of the check has a common name.
This can make it difficult to distinguish the subject from other people with the same name, which can lengthen the process.
Another potential cause of delays is if the subject of the check has a criminal history in more than one state. This can require checking records in multiple states, which can take some time.
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So, how long does a background check take? The answer depends on the type of check being performed and the resources available.
On average, most checks can be completed within 24 to 48 hours. However, some checks can take longer, especially if the subject has a common name or a criminal history in multiple states.
Amit is a young entrepreneur who specializes in background checks. After completing his high school certification, Amit spent half a decade trying different background check services. He has worked for several background screening firms and gained valuable industry experience.
Amit is the founder of BestBackgroundCheckSite.com, where he helps all its users navigate complicated decisions about their personal lives and careers.