Running International Background Checks 14 Feb 2018


Odds are good that the pool of top candidates for an open position may include someone from a foreign country. Along with making sure that person is good to go in terms of the documentation needed to live and work in the U.S., do you run an international employment background check in addition to a domestic one? What about a criminal background check? How about a credit check?

The answer to all is yes, especially if your candidate has recently relocated to this country. You need to verify that the information on his or her resume is accurate, and be informed about his or her criminal past, just like you would for any other candidate.

The good news? Verifying education and references internationally are both relatively straightforward. For education verification, a phone call to the schools the candidate claims to have attended will do the trick, although some schools will only allow the student to request those records. Similarly, a phone call or email to the listed reference is usually all that’s needed. However, in both cases, the language barrier can be a big stumbling block.

The bad news? Conducting a criminal background check, credit check, and employment verification check can lead you into a quagmire of bureaucracy and red tape.

Here’s why:

No Global Database

In this age of big data, smart everything, and increasing concerns about national security, you’d think there would be one central, global database where people could check, at the very least, a candidate’s criminal history. There isn’t. To run any sort of pre-employment screening internationally, you need to get in touch with the candidate’s country of origin.

Each Country Has Its Own Rules

Not every place is like the U.S. in terms of storing and releasing data about its citizens. Where to go to get the information varies, too. For some countries, you can work through their embassy in Washington, D.C. For others, you must request the information from the country directly.

Some prohibit U.S. companies from obtaining any sort of records at all, and some have endless hoops to jump through and a mountain of red tape to untangle. And the documentation you need to provide to get the records varies by country, too. Photographs, fingerprints, parents’ names, birth certificates, proof that the candidate actually applied for a job at your company — the variations are seemingly endless.

It’s no mystery to see why, if you get any information at all, it will take awhile, up to 20 days or more.

Employment Information Won’t Be Uniform

Even if you’ve run a successful employment background check on a candidate from a certain country before, don’t expect to get the same results again. Why? In many cases, it’s up to the employer to decide whether to release any information.

Credit Score? What Credit Score?

Each country has its own way of reporting credit and debt. While some are similar to the U.S., others don’t keep those sorts of records at all, and still others have their own rules about who can and can’t get access to that information.

Bottom line: You need to run background, employment, and credit checks to make informed, solid hiring decisions, but if you’re dealing with another country, the process is difficult and time-consuming, leaving you with a vacant position for longer than you had planned. This is the time to call in the pros. At Trusted Employees, we’ve got you covered.