October 15, 2022

How Long Is a Background Check Good For?

Background checks are not the most fun process, and the idea of having one pulled once and utilizing it forever can be very tempting. However, you may be wondering how long a background check is good for and whether or not you can reference the same background check report over a certain period of years.

Our article can tell you more about this and give you information about when another background check report might need to be performed.

The Validity of Background Checks

There is no specific state or federal laws governing the validity of background checks, and technically, a background check will never expire.

However, background check reports can become outdated as time progresses and individuals add to their personal history. For these reasons, re-checking background reports every two to five years, depending on an individual’s job duties, company standards, and employer or employee preferences.

How Far Back Do Background Reports Check?

The amount of personal history included on a background check report depends on state limits regarding disclosing personal and criminal records and certain federal limits on reporting. It’s important to be familiar with your state’s reporting and information disclosure laws before you authorize or submit a background check request. This will help you be prepared for what may be required of you.

Make sure that you note there is not generally a limit on reporting criminal convictions, which might stay on a background check report indefinitely. At the same time, other small items like civil issues and driving infractions might drop off after a certain amount of time. In most cases, background check reports will provide up to seven years of personal history.

Should Employers Re-Check Employees Regularly?

Though background checks don’t technically expire, employers might want to re-check an employee’s background regularly. This can be done to ensure that individuals are still eligible for the job they are performing or to evaluate someone’s suitability for other jobs within the company. It can also help to keep important information on individuals up to date.

Below, we discuss why an employer or company might want to engage in regular background checks.

Potential Reasons for Re-doing a Background Check

Background checks do not expire, and there isn’t anything that will technically invalidate them. However, certain factors make it a good idea to re-check an individual’s background check to ensure that they are suited for their job and tasks and that their behavior is still in accordance with company policies.

  • New job duties – When an individual is given new job duties, especially ones that now work with machinery, vulnerable populations like children or the elderly, or in a healthcare position, another background check is recommended to ensure they meet the requirements of these new responsibilities.
  • New criminal history – Regularly pulling background checks can help catch potential issues on an individual’s report that may disqualify them from certain job duties. Keep in mind that your state has certain rules about what you can do with the information you find and how to disclose it to the individual that you are running a check on them.
  • Length of time – A background check report pulled from a significant time ago, such as ten or fifteen years, may lack new and important details. Some employers choose to run background checks regularly after certain lengths of time to ensure that all information is up to date.
  • Current job duties – If an individual has access to sensitive data, or financial information or works with security data, many employers run background checks at regular intervals to help ensure the safety of everyone on the job and the security of the data.

Any employer or employee should keep these reasons in mind and stay informed of their state’s laws regarding information disclosure and authorization for background checks to ensure that any regular background check updates proceed smoothly and in accordance with workplace and employment law policies.

If you’re curious about what is currently on your own background check and want to find out how long certain things appear on your record, you can do a cursory search of yourself. So running a quick check on yourself regularly, especially when you’re job hunting, can help you stay ahead of any issues in your report and address them in an interview.

Keeping Background Checks Up to Date

While there is no blanket state or federal limit on how long a background check is good for, keeping your background checks up to date is never a bad idea. So when you’re trying to figure out how long your background check is good for, in theory, forever—it’s just about keeping it updated for your specific job or duties.

For employers that have employees with continually changing job duties, especially ones that involve operating machinery or working with vulnerable populations, regular background checks at an interval that works for the company can be worthwhile.

Simply make sure to follow all of the proper reporting, authorization, and information-gathering laws set by your state, and you can be sure that background checks stay up to date.

About the author 

Elle Gellrich

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