International Background Check: Full Guide (What They Don’t Tell You)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | June 5, 2024

International background check document on the right while a man moves across a country border with his passport behind him, requiring an international background screening and police certification green card in upper left to pass his global background check verification.

International Background Check
Background check searches records from the USA and other countries to show global records.

Understanding the methods of conducting an international background check may seem intimidating, especially when you consider how many countries there are.

And unfortunately, what many people are never told is that these checks are quite different from domestic background searches. In other words, using level 1 and level 2 background screenings as a frame of reference isn’t a good idea.

Because there is no international database that allows all nations to submit criminal and public records, these records must be garnered individually.

The details involved are often overlooked, which can cause serious problems in how long it takes to get an international background check.

This comprehensive guide outlines everything involved with every aspect of what appears on a records check conducted for international purposes, and the intricate details required.

What Is an International Criminal Background Check? Understanding International Criminal History Check (ICHC)

An international criminal background screening is a tool used to screen and vet candidates who have lived in various locations around the globe also called an international criminal history check (ICHC). This check examines criminal records in over 200 countries, provinces, and territories.

Instead of solely United States-based candidates looking to apply for an open position, the international background check provides employers with information regarding individuals who have previously studied, lived, or worked in other countries.

But, issues can arise because all countries have different records-keeping processes and various agencies. This means that although international crime databases are also checked, any records from where a person has lived must be requested manually.

An international criminal background check for employment is a full-scale employment screening allowing business owners to make educated decisions for their hiring processes, ensuring the candidate information is accurate and trustworthy, and confirming the candidate in question has the necessary skills for the open job.

Screenshot for how to get certificates of good conduct for an international background check online, both with local police certificates, and FBI records checks.

Criminal records checks and verification are an integral part of an any international background check, and because many different databases need to be searched, this can impact the cost.

An international criminal background check uses various information from a person’s past to create a search record of the person in question. The international criminal background check can include:

  • Criminal records–But also law enforcement and anti-corruption database searches to verify criminal connections.
  • Employment history
  • Education credentials
  • Reputation exaggeration, lying about the experience and/or success
  • Possible and Current Political Connections
  • Financial Records
  • Tax History

In addition to these checks, some countries require a police certification as well as authentication of FBI certificates showing a lack of criminal record.

How Do International Background Check Services Work?

An international background check consists of analyzing records in the location where an applicant has lived, and by doing so, limits the risks involved for a person’s transfer or relocation.

For example, if a person lived and worked in France, the international background check checks the records in France in terms of work, occupation, education, and criminal records.

Another example of using this detailed records check is if a person plans to move to the United States to get a job. In this case, the person will have to obtain their Police Clearance document in the USA. Learning the eligibility for this can help determine the steps of undergoing an international background check.

Worldwide Background Check vs I9 Background Check

A worldwide background check is used to screen candidates who are or did, live, work, or study outside of the United States.

An I9 background check includes additional verification used to assist the preset Background Check application programming interface (API). The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires the I-9 Form to confirm that employees are allowed to work in the United States.

The Form I-9 is used to verify identity employment authorization and is mandatory for all employers.

This form is completed by both the potential employee and the employer does not require a social security number and must be used to re-verify expired authorization.

What’s Included in Global Verification? (International Background Check for Employment)

The Global Verification Network is a database that includes numerous variations of a person’s past regarding their employment, education, and criminal history.

This type of global verification check is also known as background checks, international checks, or a background screening process that is used to verify a person’s credentials.

The type of information in a pre-employment background check depends on the specific job position that must be filled, the company’s policies in question, the kind of business, the educational institution, or the criminal history of the person in question for the role.

In most instances, the screening process included in the Global Verification screening has:

  • Reference checks
  • Past education history
  • Past employment history
  • Criminal record
  • Warrants
  • Any Derogatory Records
  • Every Nation and State where a person has resided
  • Pending Litigation
  • Pending and Sealed charges
  • Driving and Tax records where a person has resided

The international background check basically includes every single document and risk assessment that can be obtained from another country.

Can I Do a Free International Background Check Online?

Individuals can conduct a no-cost records check online for some aspects, like domestic sex offender registries, but for international records, no free options exist.

A man in a suit using a tablet to do an international background check online.

Although a background check can be done at the state level, the county court clerk’s office, or the sheriff’s office for a small fee, conducting an internet background check requires more resources and information.

In this case, a free international background check is hard to come by. The best international background check option is to use a paid service that provides truthful, current, and reliable information regarding the person in question.

Many agencies are dedicated to conducting international checks. To find a reputable one, follow these steps:

Step 1. Perform a Google search of “International Background Check services.”

Research 2-3 of the top-rated services, many of which will also search INTERPOL for various criminal records.

Step 2. Follow the steps outlined to order a background check.

How Far Back Do International Background Checks Go?

Regarding criminal records, it is possible to conduct a criminal record search that goes back multiple decades. Since there are no federal limits for the length of criminal convictions, an employer can use a person’s entire lifetime when conducting a background search. However, some states have limited the length of the look-back period.

For example, California has a look-back period of 7 years. Even so, the federal law is that there is no limit on criminal convictions (which means laws enacted by states with a 10-year background check rule technically don’t apply). Therefore, the international background check goes back to the entire person’s life when looking at their criminal record.

How Long Does It Take for an International Background Check?

The length of time it takes to conduct and receive the results of an international background check will depend on international laws, the country in which the person resides, and the person’s specific history. The average time for an international background check is between 5 days and three weeks.

Since the rules vary depending on a broad mixture of laws and regulations in other countries worldwide, this can slow the process. Some countries’ databases and corporations are slower-moving than others, causing a delay in the retrieval time frame. For those who are wondering about the total time for an international background check, it can be helpful to know the varying rules regarding each country.

In addition, regulations may be more complicated than individuals will find in the United States. For example, suppose a United States-based employer must conduct a professional background check for an international candidate who worked or studied in the European Union.

In that case, they will have to obtain the Fair Credit Reporting Act disclosure, the Fair Credit Reporting Act authorization, and the European Union Data Transfer content.

Understanding the international time frame is critical for employers and employees to know before the process begins. Some of the most common time frames are as follows:

  • Credit Report — 10 to 15 business days, but an international credit report must be transferred to a United States credit rating company, which can lengthen the time period.

USA .gov credit report screenshot showing options for credit reports and scores that can be included in an international background screening conducted by international background check companies.

Credit reports in the United States are arranged differently in other countries, but although the reporting might be slightly different, the good standing rating is universal.

  • Business Credit Report — 5-10 business days; useful for when a U.S. company requires a foreign company as a partner or to make purchases.
  • Civil Records Report — 10 to 15 business days; useful for browsing an international civil court search to find patterns of unwanted character.
  • Criminal Records Search — 10 to 20 business days; international job candidates must verify their criminal convictions or lack of criminal record.
  • Federal Criminal Background Checks — 5 to 10 business days; criminal databases are kept by federal agencies to find a person’s criminal background.
  • Education Verification — 10 to 20 business days; employers may require the international candidate to verify their transcript or education degrees.
    • This check will verify the individual’s institution’s name, attendance periods, completion date, and degrees or majors obtained.
  • Employment History Verification — 10 to 20 business days; U.S. employers need to verify the legitimacy of a company or employee before hiring.

Learning the basics of how to conduct an international background check is essential to following local, state, federal, and international laws.

Frequently Asked Questions About an International Background Check

Is There an International Background Check for Employment Overseas?

International background checks are not applicable for international candidates, but many countries require clearance before extended visits or relocation. In order to find out the requirements for a specific country, visit the US Embassy page for that nation.

How Much Does an International Background Check Cost?

The International background check price will vary based on the country. For third-party companies regarding criminal background checks in the United States, international employment verification will cost approximately $54 to screen U.S. candidates who have worked in other countries.

What Is Covered in an International Background Check for Students?

A background check for international students covers interviews, reviews of the applicant’s responses regarding the visa application, additional documentation regarding current and past education submitted by the student in question, biometric data checked against law enforcement agencies, and requests for advisory opinions. 1

Can I Do International Background Checks on Someone?

In short, no. An international employment background check is lawfully allowed for any person currently working in the United States who has lived, worked, or attended school or work in another country.2

Individuals need to determine the specific type of check they need to do, such as evaluating a person’s citizenship or visa, analyzing their employment history, verifying education credentials, analyzing credit history, and determining if the individual in question has a criminal record.

Is International Background Screening Part of a Company's Due Diligence Process?

The international background screening is part of many companies due diligence to vet and ensure the person in question is qualified for the open position.

How Can I Find International Background Check Companies?

Users can utilize a search engine to find reputable international background check companies to ensure the method used to research the person’s background is reliable and trustworthy.

Is a Background Check for International Employees Required?

Yes, background checks for international employees are required by both state and federal law.


1How to Do an International Background Check. (2021). Globalization Partners. Retrieved from <>

2International Background Checks Necessary for Global Due Diligence. ESR. Retrieved from <>

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it