How Long Is a Background Check Good For? (Times for Each Type)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | September 14, 2022

Man holding a giant magnifying glass up to the computer screen showing a background check has a question mark over his head indicating the text above, how long is a background check good for, and a calendar behind him shows years passing by to show how long is a level 2 background check good for and others.

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After going through the somewhat stressful process of undergoing a background check, the first question many individuals will have is, ‘How long is a background check good for?’

Although many jobs only require individuals to pass a background check as part of the initial hiring process, other industries will require that background checks are renewed every few years.

Since there are specific times for the various types of background checks, dictating how often they must be renewed by industry, state and federal law, knowing the times for each type can help people prepare and comply with regulations quickly and easily.

This guide explains each type of background check and answers ‘how long is a background check good for,’ based on the profession and current guidelines.

How Long Do Background Checks Stay Valid?

How long is a background check good for? This will depend entirely on the type of background check that was performed.

For example, healthcare and childcare checks are performed more frequently than those for corporations, and government security checks are performed with more regularity than private sector screenings.

Generally speaking, a background check stays valid from one month (30 days) to up to five years.

Unofficial Background Checks (How Long Is a Background Check Good for Regarding Personal Use)

Unofficial background checks are essentially good until something changes. Since most unofficial background checks are performed to uncover information about a stranger or something similar, so long as the individual the check was performed on doesn’t commit a crime or anything else that could show up on a background check, the results of the check will be the same and therefore are still “valid.”

These checks are also called name based checks or level 1 background check reports. Although they yield “official” results, they are not used to comply with regulations for industries that mandate fingerprint background checks that search a person’s national criminal history.

In other words, these are completely legitimate background checks, but they simply aren’t used for professional reasons such as hiring and tenant evaluation.

Related Reading: How to find out if there are pending charges against me for free

Pre-Employment Background Checks

Pre-employment background checks is where the validity question will start to come into play. Generally, the biggest factor in answering the question:  how long is a background check good for?  is the industry the job is in. Many industries have strict laws requiring certain kinds of background checks as well as laws that dictate how often these background checks are performed.

Since most of these industries have specific disqualifying offenses, the employer needs to ensure that an existing employee has not committed one of these offenses since passing their initial pre-employment background check.

Child care.gov website screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to a FAQ about whether employees have undergone a federal background check.

Background check renewals are most common in industries that require security clearance and industries that deal with protected groups such as the elderly, children, or health- care patients.

Any position that deals with sensitive groups or requires security clearance will require a background check be performed on every employee every 2-5 years, depending on a few factors.

How Long Is a Background Check Valid For?

Besides pre-employment and personal background checks, there are tons of different reasons background checks are performed. Many of these background checks are only good for a certain amount of time.

Below are some of the more common reasons for a background check, and how long the check is valid.

How Long Is a Background Check Good for a Gun?

The NICS background check that is required to purchase a firearm is valid for 30 days from the first time the check is performed.

There may be other state and local laws that can affect an individual’s ability to purchase a gun within this 30 day period, however the NICS background check2 itself will still be valid and an additional check will not be necessary.

How Long Is a Level 2 Background Check Good For?

Level 2 background checks are usually good for 2-5 years. When many individuals ask How long a background check is good for, they may have heard of background checks requiring renewal for certain jobs. This is only the case with a handful of industries and most entry-level jobs will not require additional checks.

Even many jobs that require a level 2 background check will not require the background check to be renewed.

Childcare.gov screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to the question, how often must background checks be conducted on child care workers.

The exact amount of time a background check is good for will depend on the industry, federal laws, and state laws. For example the background check that is required for individuals that work in childcare,3 requires that employees and volunteers undergo a background check every 5 years at least. However, many states have laws that require child care employees to undergo the background check every 3 years.

How Long Is a Fingerprint Background Check Good For? (How Long Is a Background Check Good for a Gun?)

Fingerprint background checks themselves are valid indefinitely. However, many level 2 background checks require a fingerprint check, such as the FBI identity history summary check,1 in this case it will once again depend on the industry but is usually 2-5 years.

How Long Is a Federal Background Check Good For?

Federal background checks vary dramatically due to the diversity of positions in the federal government. Entry-level jobs will likely not require additional background checks beyond the initial hiring check. Security Clearance jobs will vary dramatically and may require background checks closer to every 2 years.

How Long Is a Background Check Good for Nursing?

Most nursing background checks are valid for 2-5 years. This will depend mostly on the state that position is in. Some states will require nurses and other health care workers to undergo a background check every 2-5 years, whereas other states will not have requirements at all.

See the table below.

How Long Is a FBI Background Check Good For?

FBI background checks are a common type of check for level 2 background checks. Although there is no limit for how long the check itself is good for, it is usually associated with industries that require a new background check be passed every 2-5 years.

Other Kinds of Background Check

There are tons of different kinds of background checks available these days, making the question of How long is a background check good for? Extremely difficult to answer unless all the circumstances are known. Still, most individuals can expect most of the more intensive background checks to be good for 2-5 years.

Keep in mind that many industries that require more intensive checks do not have requirements for additional checks, regardless of how long the individual works there. This does not mean that so long as the individual passes the initial check that they can continue working with the company regardless of any criminal issues they encounter outside of work. Many companies will be made aware of felony charges against an existing employee, one way or another. This is especially true for jobs that require security clearance or jobs in law enforcement. In this case, even though technically a background check was not performed, criminal history information for employees is still monitored at all times.

FBI Law enforcment enterprise portal )LEEP) with yellow arrows pointing to the headings on the page for users to submit abd conduct background checks when they are passed the date for validity.

Use the list below to figure out what to expect from different kinds of background check. Keep in mind that different jurisdictions and companies may have laws and rules that affect how long the check is valid for. Finally, many industries will monitor certain employee information for disqualifying offenses.

For example, if someone who is working in the child care industry is charged with a violent felony, the employer will likely be made aware of this, even if the employee is between background checks.

Background Check TypeHow Long the Background Check Is Good
Bulk Background Check2-5 Years
Comprehensive Background Check2-5 Years, Depending on industry
Apostille FBI2-5 Years
Level 1 Background Check2-5 Years
Expedited Background Check2-5 Years
Police Clearance Certificate2-5 Years
Tenant Background Check2-5 Years
Level 2 Background Check2-5 Years, Depending on Industry
Marriage Background CheckIndefinite*
MVR Report2-5 Years
Church Background CheckIndefinite*
DOT Background Check2-5 Years
Nanny Background Check2-5 Years, at least.
Level 2 Healthcare Worker Background Check2-5 Years
Social Security Background Check2-5 Years
Volunteer Background Check2-5 Years, Depending on Industry
Walmart Background Check2-5 Years
Home Depot Background Check2-5 Years
Dating Background CheckIndefinite*
Government Job Background Check2-5 Years
Level 3 Background Check2-5 Years
Daycare Background Check2-5 Years, at least.
Child Abuse Background Check2-5 Years, at least.
Background Check for Non Profits2-5 Years, depending on industry
Social Media Background CheckIndefinite*
Pre-Employment Background Check: What Shows Up2-5 Years
Security Clearance Background Check2-5 Years, Less for higher-security clearance
International Background Check2-5 Years
Restraining Order Background Check2-5 Years
Real Estate License Background Check2-5 Years, depending on state.
Concealed Carry Permit Background Check5 Years
UPS Background Check2-5 Years
Amazon Background Check2-5 Years
Mental Health Background Check2-5 Years, depending on industry.
Uber Background Check2-5 Years

*Unofficial background checks can be performed again at any time.

Only the state of Florida has a legal distinction between a level 1 and level 2 background check. This makes the question of How long is a background check good for? Extremely easy to answer for the state as a level 2 background check is valid for 5 years in Florida for most industries that require it, such as healthcare.

Most other states have no firm laws regarding background check validity, outside of the industries that require multiple checks such as childcare. Use the table below to better understand what to expect from different levels of background check in your state.

How Long Is a Background Check Valid in My State

StateBackground Checks Valid for
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in AlabamaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in AlaskaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in ArizonaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in ArkansasLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in CaliforniaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in ColoradoLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in ConnecticutLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in DelawareLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in FloridaLevel 1: 5+ Years
Level 2: 5 Years
Level 3: 5 Years at most.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in GeorgiaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in HawaiiLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in IdahoLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in IllinoisLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in IowaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in IndianaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in KansasLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in KentuckyLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in LouisianaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MaineLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MassachusettsLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MarylandLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MichiganLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MinnesotaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MississippiLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MissouriLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in MontanaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in NebraskaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in NevadaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in New HampshireLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in New JerseyLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in New MexicoLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in New YorkLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in North CarolinaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in North DakotaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in Ohio (How Long Is a Background Check Good for in Ohio?)Level 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in OklahomaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in OregonLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in Pennsylvania (How Long Are Background Checks Good For in PA?)Level 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in Rhode IslandLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in South CarolinaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in South DakotaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in TennesseeLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in TexasLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in UtahLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in VermontLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in VirginiaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in WashingtonLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in West VirginiaLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in WisconsinLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.
How Long is a Background Check Valid for in WyomingLevel 1: 5+ years.
Level 2: 2-5 years.
Level 3: 2-5 years.

There are seemingly endless things to consider when undergoing a background check. Not only do applicants need to be aware of the type of background check being performed and any disqualifying offenses, but how long the check is valid for comes into play.

Knowing the background check related laws of your industry and state should help individuals answer the question, ‘how long is a background check good for?’

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Is a Background Check Good For

How Long Is a BCI Background Check Good For?

BCI background checks are an anomaly amongst most background checks due to the fact that they usually need to be renewed once a year. This is extremely rare and is usually only associated with high-security clearance jobs or similar jobs that require a certain amount of trust due to the information being dealt with.

How Long Is a FBI Background Check Good For?

The reason for the FBI background check will affect how long it is valid for. Many companies use the FBI background check as part of their screening process, in which case the validity will be up to the company, assuming they are not in industries with legal background check requirements. Certain FBI checks will be valid for as little as 1 year, but in general the 2-5 year rule still applies here.


References

1United States Government. (2022). Identity History Summary Checks. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks>

2United States Government. (2022). National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics>

3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care (OCC). (2022). Background Checks: What You Need To Know. ChildCare.gov. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from <https://childcare.gov/consumer-education/background-checks-what-you-need-to-know>

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