How Long Does a Background Check Take?

When applying for a job, companies do background checks to ensure the safety of both employees and employers. It’s part of the standard process that most candidates go through, and it’s nothing to worry about.

Companies have different procedures for conducting background checks, and their turnaround time usually differs. If you’re wondering how long a background check usually takes, the short answer is that it depends on what kind of background check you’re getting and what institution is doing it.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common background checks, what these cover, and the average days it takes to do them.

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What is a Background Check?

A background check is an investigation of a person’s past. The purpose of a background check is usually to verify someone’s identity, employment history, or criminal record.

Employers, landlords, and adoption agencies often require background checks as part of their screening process. Commonly background checks are done through a third-party service, such as a background check company or a law enforcement agency.

What is the Usual Turnaround Time for Background Checks?

The time it takes to conduct a background check can vary depending on the type of background check and the institution conducting it. Most basic background checks take about 1-2 weeks to complete.

In some cases, more in-depth or specialized criminal background checks may take longer, up to several months or even years. If you are going through a professional third-party service such as a background check company or law enforcement agency, you can typically expect your results within 3-5 business days.

How Long Does it Take to do Common Background Check Searches?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the turnaround time for background checks can vary greatly depending on which type of check you’re getting and what institution is doing it.

Identity check

The Identity verification or identity check confirms whether a person is indeed who they say they are. It is performed in various ways, but most often includes verifying personal information, checking identification documents, and running background checks.

Usually, an identity check can take between 1 to 2 days. The exact methods will vary depending on the circumstances, but the goal is always to confirm that the person in question is who they claim to be. In many cases, identity verification is a simple process that can be completed quickly and easily.

However, in other cases, it may be more extensive and time-consuming, mainly if it involves running background checks or verifying multiple forms of identification.

Employment check

Companies often conduct employment verification checks as part of the hiring process. It involves contacting a candidate’s past employers to confirm their employment history and job title.

Employment verification checks can help ensure that a candidate is truthful about their work experience and qualifications. The process can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on the number of employers that need to be contacted. The candidate may need to sign a release form giving the company permission to collect this information.

Employment verification checks can help create a more accurate picture of a candidate’s qualifications and work history.

Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks are an essential part of the hiring process for many employers. These checks can help to ensure that the person you’re considering hiring is safe and trustworthy.

The timeframe for criminal background checks can vary depending on the background check. For example, if a candidate’s criminal history is limited to one state, the check may only take a few days. However, if the candidate has worked or lived in different countries, the process can stretch to 20 days or more.

Although these checks can take some time, they are essential for protecting your business and your employees.

Academic verification

It is a vital step in many background checks. The process involves contacting the schools and universities listed on a candidate’s resume and confirming that the candidate attended those schools and received the degrees or courses of study they claim to have.

Academic verification can be time-consuming, but it is crucial to verify the accuracy of a candidate’s claims. In most cases, candidates must sign a release form for the background checker to obtain this information.

Once the academic verification process is complete, employers can better understand a candidate’s qualifications and educational history.

Credit checks 

Credit checks are one of the employers’ many tools to screen job applicants. By reviewing an applicant’s credit history, employers can better understand their financial responsibility and whether they would be a good fit for the job.

Credit checks typically take around two to four days to complete, and they can be a helpful way to verify an applicant’s qualifications.

Driving Checks

Many employers are conducting driving checks as part of the hiring process. There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, the employer is responsible for their employees while they are on the job, including while driving. The employer may be liable if an employee has an accident while going for work purposes. Secondly, driving checks help ensure that the employer hires someone responsible and safe behind the wheel. It can help to lower the costs of insurance for the company.

If you’re applying for a driving job, be prepared to undergo a driving check.

Common Reasons for Background Check Delays

A background check might take longer than expected, including the size and complexity of the check, the availability of information, and the need for additional documentation or permissions. Some common reasons for delays include the following:

  • Changes in government policies or regulations
  • The high volume of checks being performed at once
  • Incomplete application forms or release forms
  • Technical issues with online databases or lack of online accessibility
  • Cross border checks
  • Operating hours of institutions
  • Drug testing requirements

If you’re waiting for the completion of your background check, stay patient and keep in contact with the background check company to resolve any issues quickly. However long it takes to complete your background check is typically dependent on the complexity and scope of your

How do Instant Background Checks Work?

An instant background check is a way to go when you need to know someone’s background information quickly.

These checks include searches of online databases for a Social Security number trace, national criminal database search, and sex offender registry search. The data is then compiled into a report for you. The entire process is typically very quick, so you can have peace of mind by knowing someone’s background information.

How do you Speed Up Employment Background Checks?

The process of employment background checks can often be lengthy and frustrating for both employers and job seekers. However, there are several ways to speed up the process.

One way is to set a time limit for authorization. For example, employers can give job candidates a deadline of two weeks to provide the necessary documentation. It will help ensure the process does not drag on for months.

Another way to speed up employment background checks is to use faster drug test clinics. These clinics can provide results in as little as 24 hours faster than traditional drug testing methods.

Finally, employers can outsource the background check process to a professional service. It will save time and ensure that the process is conducted correctly.

By following these tips, employers can speed up the employment background check process and hire job candidates more quickly.


Background checks are a necessary part of the job application. They help ensure that people are who they say they are and have the qualifications they claim to have. While some background checks are easy, others may take time. The most important thing is to be patient and thorough during the background check.

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Williams

Brian is an expert in security, privacy, and information. He has studied background checks, criminal, people search, and such topics over the last 5 years. He is also an avid writer and enjoys sharing his knowledge through this blog. Read more of Brian's articles.