How Long Does a Background Check Take?

background check written in black ink with a hand making red line below

Background checks are fairly common. They happen nearly every time you accept a job, apply for housing, or decide to research a friend or acquaintance. Whether you’re undergoing a background check or planning on requesting one, you’re probably wondering how long it takes. Avoid wasting time and frustrations by finding out the specifics below.

5 Types of Background Checks

The length of time required for a background depends on the type. Some options are available within minutes while others take upwards of one month. The most common styles of background checks include:

  • Criminal
  • Employment
  • Federal
  • DMV
  • Public Records

Depending on the type of background check, the time to get results may vary. No one likes a waiting game, so it’s important that you choose the right style for your needs.

Here’s a closer look at the 5 Background Checks:

1. Criminal Background Check

Criminal background checks focus solely on the person’s legal history. Using a social security number or legal name, this style of report pulls information from court systems at the local, state, and national levels.

A standard criminal background check is usually completed within 24 hours, but they can take as long seven days.

2. Employment Background Check

Employment background checks are used to screen applicants. The review looks at criminal history, civil cases, and credit history. While it’s pretty straightforward, the timeframe for the process depends on the company that the business uses.

Many schools and government organizations have to utilize an FBI background check. Yet, the average business uses a basic comprehensive report that takes one to three days. If you have a name that’s common, the process may take up to a week. Applicants also have the right to appeal the results if incorrect information is provided to the employer.

Employment Background Checks can end up taking months.

3. Federal Background Check

Federal background checks focus on crimes committed at the highest level of government. Any federal arrests, charges, and convictions are compiled into a report created by the FBI. Instead of common personal information, like Social Security Numbers, a federal background screening usually involves fingerprints.

For personal usage, the FBI only allows individuals to request a check for themselves. You can obtain a copy of your identity history summary check by filling out the online form and paying an $18 service fee. FBI background checks are usually complete within one to two weeks.

Federal Background Checks can take as long as 30 days.

Homepage of DMV website on the display of PC

4. DMV Background Check

DMV background checks focus on the driving history of an individual. This report uses a person’s driver’s license number to find information like speeding tickets and on-the-road violations. It’s common for transportation and rideshare companies to include both a DMV and criminal record check for employees and contractors.

Typically, a DMV background check takes between 3 and 10 days.

5. Public Records

Public records provide access to a variety of personal details. This information includes court documents, criminal convictions, vital records, and online posts. As a result, they’re commonly used for personal use when researching a friend, neighbor, partner, or co-worker. They’re also an important resource when running a self-background check.

You can access public records in a variety of ways. For local records, county clerk offices and court databases are excellent places to start. Inmate records often require visiting state prisons and county jails online or accessing the Federal Bureau of Prisons records. Social media profiles are another valuable resource and can be found using a search engine.

Public record background checks offer a comprehensive review of a person’s history. However, they also require a lot of research. The timeframe for this process varies based on the amount of information available and the different organizations needed to access it.

Public Records Checks can take anywhere from a few minutes with a service like, to months or even years with other services.

How to Get an Instant Background Check

Going through public records on your own takes a lot of time. However, you can utilize an online platform to get an instant background check. uses a variety of resources to compile all of the information available within a few seconds. Plus, you only need a few key pieces of information to start the background check. This process is much easier than other options and also more affordable.