Why Does a Global Background Check Take Longer?

Why Does a Global Background Check Take Longer

Requesting background screens on employees, regardless of their country of origin or international experience, is an essential component of safe, smart hiring practices. But when the background check needs to go beyond US borders, things get more complicated and take more time.


One reason worldwide background checks take longer to complete is compliance. Compliance issues also add time to domestic background checks, but when you add international laws and regulations to the mix, the process will slow down. For example, stricter privacy laws might make obtaining information more tedious. Another reason that global background screens take longer to complete is that many countries are closed to requests for information from outside. When this is the case, candidates themselves need to make the requests, which takes extra time. In addition, other factors such as language barriers, cultural differences, time zones, and lack of digital records make international background checks more complicated to complete.

Streamlining screening with purpose-built background check software enhances candidate experience through mobile-friendly interface and paperwork reduction, while empowering recruiters via dashboards flagging areas needing review per custom risk profiles.

More Specific Examples

Let’s take a closer look at just a few elements of background checks to see how going global slows things down.


Having a background check partner that understands disclosure and consent laws worldwide is critical in maintaining compliance. In the United States, companies requesting background checks must obtain a signed FCRA disclosure and a signed FCRA authorization. If your business is running a background check on a citizen of the European Union, you must also obtain a signed European Union Data Transfer consent form.

Criminal Records

Local criminal records searches are just as critical for international candidates as for domestic candidates. Knowing where to find the records, how to access them, and having sufficient knowledge of the language and laws to interpret them are all part of the specialized experience necessary to complete a global background check. In many countries, digitized criminal records are unavailable, and physical records must be requested in person. Many background check agencies have people in the country who can obtain the needed records, but this takes time and expertise.

Sometimes it’s not possible to complete a criminal record check. In these cases, the candidate must obtain a certificate from their country verifying that they have no criminal conviction record. The background check professional will then take steps to verify this certificate. Again, it’s not hard to see how this process might take longer than a standard background check.


Basic education verification is done by contacting the educational institution and obtaining info about the highest degree earned. When doing this internationally, several complications commonly arise. First, many foreign schools will not release data to third parties; if they do, the info they offer is limited to the degree earned. And second, schools move or close, so finding the institution can be challenging. If you want grades or other details, the candidate will need to request them personally and have them sent directly to you.

The Bottom Line

The pattern is clear: international background checks are more complicated and take longer than domestic checks. Another thing is clear: partnering with an agency experienced in global checks is essential to getting reliable information in as little time as possible. Talk to your provider about worldwide background checks today.

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