How Long Does a Background Check Take?

A typical employment screening background check will usually take a week, or 5 business days to complete.


However, it can even be completed sooner if the background check just involves a search of “pay to access” databases.


It may seem that a background check using digital databases should be instant, and it is, but to be done correctly the results require a real person to verify the results. This human oversight will prevent technical errors and ensure that the subject of the check will receive results that are intended for them only.


So, if a background check only involves using databases, it can be accomplished in 2 to 3 days, typically.


However, as mentioned before, the time the check takes is dependent on how thoroughly the background check is. Because many background investigations are different, the time for completion can vary quite a bit.


But, there is a fundamental foundation to a thorough background search:

  • criminal history

  • financial credit history

  • social media existence

  • past post-secondary education

  • career history

  • personal references

  • individual’s personal history

Investigator Aptitude Test


A big part of performing a background search will involve verifying an individual’s history using databases, some that are paid databases and also free ones.


An Investigator usually uses a paid government database to acquire information regarding an individual's criminal history. However, just simply finding court records is usually a service that many governments offer for free.


Many times, a background Investigator will lookup an individual’s court record for free and then resort to purchasing a criminal record check if there are court records found.


Unlike searching for court records, a financial credit history check will often require the Investigator to pay for accessing the database that digitally houses financial records.


As mentioned before, these databases can be instant but need 2 to 3 days for an actual person to evaluate the results correctly.

how much time for background check?

When performing a background check, a background Investigator will often have to do a lot of phone calls.

  • This is where a background check can take more time

This is due to the fact that the Investigator is relying on the schedule and availability of the people that the background Investigator needs to personally talk to.


This happens a lot when verifying things such as educational degrees. Often, the Investigator will contact the post-secondary educational institute via phone call and validate the degree with the institute's records department.


However, many universities and colleges protect these records. In this situation, the Investigator will have to reach out to the individual who is undergoing the background check and get them to contact the post-secondary institution themselves in order to access the information. The subject of the background check will then be asked to request a school transcript from the records department and get the school to mail it to an address of the background Investigator's choosing. This will reduce to possibility of tampering of the transcript.


It is obvious that performing this phone outreaching can take a fair bit of time. As with researching education, researching personal references will also require phone calls and time.

  • Contacting personal references can be the most time consuming

Some people can be reached easily while some may take a long time to contact along with great effort. The Investigator will then have to take the necessary time to validate that the references are who they say they are and finally hear their opinions on the subject of the background check.

how much time does a background check take?

The last part of the background check foundation will be on-line researching. The background Investigator will use the internet as an investigative tool to research the subject's personal history.


The amount of time this takes is fairly standard in the investigations industry:

  • Ten hours to thoroughly research the subject using the entirety of the web

A large part of the time allotted will be used searching social media platforms. However, a lot of information can be found on the subject outside of social media.


There could be many mentions of the subject on various websites. The amount of the 10 hours spent on social media vs the web outside of social media will depend on where most of the information on the subject is located.


Many people have a poor grasp on searching the web. A novice could find a few pieces of information when searching on the internet. However, a skilled background Investigator will be able to find all relevant information and be able to accurately verify and document it properly.


Furthermore, a skilled Investigator would be able to do this in a timely fashion whereas a novice would require much more time. This is why, even with a simple background check task, an experienced and skilled Investigator should always be utilized.


An experienced Investigator will be able to gather all relevant information and do it in the least amount of time possible.

About the Author

background check time

Peter Sandru is an Instructor & Co-Founder of NDIL with over 14 years as a Professional Investigator. Peter has spent more than a decade conducting investigations throughout the world, primarily for corporations, law firms, and government agencies. Peter has assisted in the creation of many investigative training programs in various capacities. Over the length his career, Peter has performed numerous background checks on individuals and organizations.