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How Long Does a Standard Background Check Take?

One of the most common questions when it comes to background checks is this: How long does it take? There isn’t just one answer because even standard background checks are made up of multiple types of checks. Every one of these uses various databases and resources to find information – it’s not as simple as searching in one all-inclusive spot.

With that being said, there are standard turnaround times for the common types of background checks. Let’s examine how long these checks tend to take, and discover what could make it take longer.

What Are the Average Turnaround Times for Background Checks?

While the information an employer is looking for out of a background check dictates the type of check they’ll use, most employers just need a few standard elements included in most background checks. But how long do they take?

  • Employment background checks – This is an umbrella term that could encompass a variety of background check types, including employment history, resume details, criminal records, credit history, and more. Depending on the information being sought, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to complete.
  • Criminal background checks – A basic background check consisting of a Social Security Number trace, a national criminal database search, and a sex offender registry search is almost instant, usually coming back in a matter of moments. If more detailed information is sought, like civil court records or county criminal records, it could take several days.
  • Federal background checks – A background check at the federal level can take a day or two, but may take longer depending on the information an employer is looking for. Federal background checks may include information on violation of federal law, as well as domestic and global terrorist watch lists and other information.

So, how long does a standard background check take? Typically, between one and three days or so. However, the most basic of background checks can be conducted almost instantly. And more in-depth screenings that require the use of more databases can take multiple days or even weeks.

What Could Cause a Delay?

Note that various factors could cause a delay in background check turnaround times. These factors include inaccurate or incomplete request forms, court closures due to holidays or emergencies, and international background checks for those who have lived, worked, or traveled extensively out of the country.

Let Us Take Care of Background Checks

Metrodata Services is the PBSA-accredited background check provider that can help your business conduct the necessary pre- and post-employment background checks while remaining fully compliant. If you need background checks conducted, contact us today to get started.


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