Background Information

Searching for International Background Information

International background checks are more difficult to obtain than one done in the United States. Laws and regulations pertaining to record keeping differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information allowable for release and the required paperwork for obtaining background records vary from city to city. While international background checks are not foolproof, offenses committed by people in their past have a tendency to repeat themselves.

Information Sources for an International Background Check

All aspects of an international background check depend on the country in which the search takes place. City police records furnish the majority of the information contained in an international background check. However, some countries have national, state, or province records as well.

Waiting Time for an International Background Check

A check may take as little as three days to accomplish if the country has a national database. If records have to be searched one jurisdiction at a time, it could take up to six months or more. During a background search, it is common to run into the same name several times. More time is involved if duplicate names require more searching to identify which one is the applicant. Many times, a background search includes breaking down a language barrier.

Why Employers Need International Background Checks

It is an employer’s legal responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all employees and customers. Any potential employee who has resided outside of the United States or frequently travels abroad merits an international background check. In an increasingly shrinking world where international travel is common, and in the aftermath of 911, an international background check is imperative. Employers should view international background checks as a company security measure.

The Accuracy of an International Background Check

Most background checks done internationally only cover two to three years, so a lot of background information is unavailable. Information from locations with limited jurisdictions can often be sketchy. The more jurisdictions a prospective employee has lived in, the more difficult it is to obtain accurate information.

Personal Information Needed to Run an International Background Check

The potential employee’s full name is required. The middle name or initial is often a distinguishing factor from someone else with the same name. The date of birth is essential because it can narrow a search down to the person you are researching. Obtain and use any identifying numbers the potential employee uses or has used, and make sure the possible employee has given written permission to run a background check.

Expected Results of an International Background Check

Most countries do not maintain the same records as the United States. In most countries, public records are not as accessible as they are in the United States, so there is not going to be as much information included in the report. In some countries, criminal activity is only available to the offender and the government. Offenses considered misdemeanors and felonies in the United States are not necessarily considered the same in other countries.

Finding a Reliable Source to Run International Background Checks

Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints about any company with which you’re considering running an international background check. Call the embassy in Washington D.C. and ask the legal attaché how to obtain a valid background check. Thoroughly read any contract, and make sure you understand what you are getting before you sign it. Ask questions, especially about their information source. If they refuse to tell you their source, be wary. In many cases, the applicant can get the required information quicker than a third party.

Avoid International Background Check Scams

Many companies on the internet advertise international background checks. But what many of them actually do is a media search, which consists of checking newspapers for the name of the applicant involved in a criminal action. If it makes the paper, they list the offense, but many crimes do not show up in a newspaper. Some companies check the applicants name on the Terrorist Watch List and OFAC Watch List and note the results in the report. There is no charge to check both lists and they only take seconds to check.