How Long Does a Background Check Take?

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Different Checks Take Different Amounts of Time

While “background screening” refers generally to the process of vetting a potential hire, the process itself is actually composed of many different types of “background checks”. Each background check looks into a unique aspect of the potential employee’s personal or professional history. Some common checks include: 

  1. Criminal Record Checks
  2. Credit History & Bankruptcy Checks
  3. Employment History Checks
  4. Education Record Checks
  5. Professional Certificates & Licenses Checks


So, how long does pre-employment background checking really take? The process can take anywhere from a few minutes (some checks can be requested online and received immediately), to a few weeks (some checks involve lots of data gathering and contacting 3rd parties). 

Therefore, timing really depends on:

  • How many types of background checks you include in your process
  • How complex each check is - Different types of checks involve various factors that can affect timing
  • The country you are carrying out the check in - Local markets have different processes


You might be tempted to carry out fewer checks on your potential hires for a faster process. However, keep in mind that to make the best hiring decisions, the more details you can verify, the better. More comprehensive checks will involve more layers of information gathering and review, and may therefore take more time to complete.

Background checks: Different Types and Turnaround Times

Is there an average time to receive a background check result? Even though everyone wants a quick result, recruiters must go through multiple stages of checks to extract reliable information about a potential candidate. The multi-level process sometimes results in a long length of time to complete your background screening. 

Here are some of the usual checks that are part of standard background screening processes, and how long they might take given important factors, including the country where they are done.

Keep in mind that as a general rule, most markets conform to data privacy and security legislations, which requires employers to inform the applicant that they will be checked before any checks can be requested from the relevant local institutions or offices. This applies in the situations that follow:

Criminal Background Checking

For many organizations, the term ‘background verification’ usually refers directly to criminal background checking. This is whether the individual has any criminal convictions or activities on public record. Most of the time, when someone asks how long it takes for a background verification company to perform a check, they are really asking how long it takes to do a criminal background check. 

  • In the UK, the local criminal record check process, called DBS Checking, has several levels - Basic, Standard, Enhanced, and Enhanced with Barred List Checks. It may take between 2 to 7 days to get the results of such DBS Checks. But, it may take longer, up to 2 weeks or more, if further verification is needed. For example, if the individual you are requesting the check for appears on several barred lists, or if information provided for the check is found to be inaccurate. 
  • The situation is different in Singapore. Here, individuals must request their own Certificate of Clearance or COC from the Singapore Police Force. It can take between 5 to 30 working days from the time of application to receive the results. Note that the process may take longer in particular if the request is made by non-Singapore residents.
  • In the Philippines, individuals are also able to secure their own criminal record clearance, called a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance. Securing the result can take between 2-6 weeks, depending on whether an individual has previous NBI records already (shorter processing time), or not (longer processing time). In this case, it is best to request the NBI clearance well in advance.

Note that the time taken for background verification may extend if an international search is involved. For some countries, verification can be done in 1 working week or 5 days. But for countries with stricter data privacy protection laws, it may take as long as 4 working weeks, or possibly more. Identify how many steps are included in the criminal check you need, this will determine the length of time it will take.

Credit History & Bankruptcy Checking

Usually, this standard check does not take a lot of time to process. It can be requested easily within the day in different markets

  • In the UK, while credit checks are not generally required to be part of a background screening, some industries do legally require them, such as for solicitors. A credit check will search private and public databases for CCJs (County Court Judgements), bankruptcies or insolvencies, voluntary arrangements (regarding paying debts), administration orders, evidence of money laundering, and notices of correction. An efficient screening company can have results from these databases ready in 5 working days.
  • In Singapore, credit checks tend to be more valued by employers. The Credit Bureau of Singapore (CBS) provides employers (who must be members of the CBS itself) with credit screening tools and reports. It can take as quickly as a two-business day turnaround between the submission of a request, to receiving the report. When it comes to bankruptcies, a report can be requested from the Singapore Ministry of Law Insolvency Office (for a nominal fee), and results can be received immediately.
  • In the Philippines, credit scores can be requested at the Credit Information Corporation (with its accredited bureaus) is the legal entity that can be tapped for a report (for a nominal fee). The process can be done purely online to receive reports immediately. There is also the Freedom of Information Office (FOI) in the Philippines. Through their online portal, any type of public information including credit reports and bankruptcies can be requested. Requests are processed manually and may take around a week before one receives an update. Requests may also be denied if lacking substantial reason for the request.

Remember that different markets also have different rules as to whether credit histories and bankruptcies are legally allowed to form the basis of an employment decision. Be sure to get sound legal advice for the market you are in before carrying out a credit check for employment.

Employment history 

This is one of the key factors in background screening. It encompasses past job history, claimed job titles, and employment duration. The checking process also includes candidates' reasons for quitting the job. 


In many markets including the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the employment history check takes the form of a manual reference check. Employers must contact an individual’s former employer/s to verify if they have submitted accurate claims about their employment history. As expected, this may take varying amounts of time depending on whether references and previous employers are easily contactable, and readily willing to share information. 


Education record 

Another very common check, this includes verifying the degree status, graduation result, and university attendance of an individual.


Similar to employment history, this check can be manual in nature - contacting schools and academic references to confirm if an individual indeed has a history of education in their institution, and the nature of their stay in the educational institution. This can also take varying amounts of time depending on each school’s own process for providing such information.


Professional certificates and licenses 

These become important to check when the position being hired for requires or relies on particular skill or institutional certifications. Employers will want to ensure the certifications and licenses submitted by the candidates are genuine, and in fact still valid at the time of hiring.

Although it seems like a complicated process, standard professional certificate and license verification checks should not take more than 3 days, especially when requested through a specialist background check company. Certifying institutions and organizations are typically prepared to authenticate certificates or reissue them for an employment check. 

What Causes Employment Background Check Delays?

The duration of employment background checks depends on some probable factors. The background verification team tries to wrap up the verification process as early as possible. However, no one can deny that unforeseen causes play big roles sometimes. 

  • Weekends are the most common causes of background verification delays. Those who ask for a background check before a weekend must consider that the weekend will add to the duration of the checking process. 
  • Closures are another unforeseen event that causes delays. Some institutes, courts, or organizations may be closed during holidays, or work with a minimum number of employees. Report generating may take longer with a reduced number of employees or hybrid work set-ups in the wake of the pandemic.  
  • Additional stages can add to the duration of the screening process. In case an employer needs some additional information about a particular candidate, the length of the checking process becomes longer. Steps such as checking multi-jurisdictional records (in places such as the US or Europe for example) may create delays. Therefore, one must take into account the need for additional information and steps when calculating the duration of the background verification process.  

How A Professional Background Check Company can Speed Up the Process

There is no doubt that a detailed yet quick background screening process adds great value to an organization. However, some companies don't understand the need to obtain a thorough candidate report. Yet, it is essential for a company to ensure that candidates are fully verified for company security and to avoid sunk costs. For this reason, outsourcing the employment background verification process may be necessary. There are several reasons for which a company should hire a professional for this tas:

Expertise

There are many reasons for which the professionals are still in the market. A simple online search will not be able to extract more than public social media posts. To get legal records, one needs to know the right institutions to go to and how to approach them. Here comes the need to have the experts' assistance. They have their networking and contacts. It is easy for them to order the required records to run a verification check on a person. 

Cost Savings

Hiring a professional service provider is much cheaper than going for individual background checks. If a company conducts individual background checks for each potential hire, it will have to spend more money on the screening process. Instead, hiring a professional service provider will save a lot of expenditure. 

Legal Compliance

Background screening needs legal reports most of the time. However, it is not easy to obtain reports like criminal or vehicle records. To obtain these, a company either needs to possess the right contact, or spend a lot of money. However, professionals are already in this field. They know who to call or where to appeal to get a report. This does not only save money but also saves a lot of time.  

Conclusion 

The success and speed of your organization’s background screening lies in efficient data gathering. A company should focus on the task of genuine data accumulation if they want to hire the right candidate. The ease of obtaining information becomes essential while running a pre-employment background check, especially because different companies will need different types of checks done. Then there is the compounding complexity of whether the checks must be done for a specific local market, or internationally across several markets.

Professional assistance will certainly simplify this process for employers, regardless of whether they are still a growing team, or already a multinational organization. Furthermore, professionals offer a greater service than just conducting background checks quickly. They can create detailed candidate reports that integrate the various results of background checks, to make the overall hiring process smooth and seamless for the organization using them. Specialist companies like Veremark can even do follow-up or regular reporting on your candidates over time to keep your records up-to-date, or tailor reports to specific needs you may have.

Let Veremark work to deliver you the best and most efficient background checking experience. Hand us your background check worries so that you can focus on what matters the most - the business.

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FAQs

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FAQs

What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

Transform your hiring process

Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.

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