How Do You Run an International Background Check?

How Do You Run an International Background Check?

Unfortunately, international background checks are complex and notoriously difficult to carry out. Each country has its own set of laws, and some countries prohibit any agencies from obtaining records. Due to these constraints, international background checks can take anywhere from 10-20 days to complete.

Why Run an International Background Check?

International background checks are typically used during pre-employment screening. Employers will usually only use an international background check if an applicant has lived abroad, or if the company has offices abroad. But as international job candidates become more common, and as criminals continue to cross international borders, international background checks allow employers to make more informed hiring decisions.

What's Included in an International Background Check?

Since there isn't a global database that allows employers to look at an applicant's information all in one place, international background checks consist of checking records in each country where the applicant lived. What's included in an international background check is entirely up to an employer, so there might be a lot of variation. That said, the following information is typically included in international checks.

Criminal records

Each country has varying laws about the type of criminal records that are available and who is allowed to access them. Each country also has its own discrimination laws that govern how an employer may use the information within a criminal record. Some countries, for example, will only let an employer turn down an applicant if their criminal history prohibits them from working with vulnerable populations, like children.

The UK government has compiled a list of countries and their processes for getting a background check on someone who lives or has lived there.

Education verification

An international education verification can help employers determine whether or not an applicant is truly qualified for the job. Education verifications are commonly used by academic institutions and for senior-level positions.

Employers complete this verification by directly contacting the schools the applicant claims to have degrees from. This can be a lengthy process, as some schools have privacy policies that only allow a student or parent to look at educational records. There are also language barriers and time differences that can make the process lengthier.


Fortunately, checking international references is more straight forward. An employer can call each reference an applicant has listed and ask questions about the applicant's performance, competency, and salary. Employers might need to use a translation service if the reference doesn't speak the same language as the employer.

Credit reports

As with international criminal records, getting an international credit report can be tricky. Each country has its own way of reporting credit, debt, and responsibility. On top of that, many countries have privacy laws about who can look at credit reports. Employers will have to contact each credit reporting agency in order to determine whether or not employers can access this information.

So, How Do You Run An International Background Check?

Running an international background check is no easy feat as each country has its own set of laws about background checks and how they can be carried out. Since there isn't a defined process organizations can go through to complete an international background check, it will take a lot of time, patience, and digging to get a full background check on an individual who has lived abroad.

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