How Long Does An FBI Background Check Take (And Why)?

How Long Does An FBI Background Check Take (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Around 30 Days

FBI employment background checks are conducted to determine if an applicant is qualified for a particular position. 

The FBI conducts three types of background checks:

  1. A National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check
  2. A name-based check of the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB)
  3. A fingerprint-based check of the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS)

The NCIC check searches criminal justice information databases that include warrants, arrests, and protective orders. The TSDB check is a search of terrorist watchlist data. Finally, the IAFIS check searches fingerprints against criminal history records from across the United States. 

How Long Does An FBI Background Check Take

How Long Does An FBI Background Check Take?

FBI Background Check30 days
NCIC check2-4 business days

The average FBI background check takes about 30 days to complete. However, that time may be extended if the background check subject has a complex history or if there are verification delays.

The most common reasons for a delay in an FBI background check are a lack of information or incorrect information.

Other reasons for a delay can include:

  1. A match on the Terrorist Watch List
  2. Felony convictions
  3. Illegal immigration status
  4. Pending court case/felony indictment
  5. Drug trafficking/possession convictions
  6. Misdemeanor convictions involving violence or sexual assault

Rather than depending on the information they have gathered themselves, most reputable businesses contact previous schools and employers using the contact information. This ensures that they are contacting a good source, but it might also slow the process down.

It’s typical for data to be delayed because some schools and previous employers may not have completely computerized records, and they are not subject to any deadline in providing the information. However, the majority of state and government departments have established turnarounds.

The quickest method to expedite the background checking procedure is to give the agency all of the necessary information and documentation and ensure that it is correct. For example, this document addresses any former employers or recommendations are provided.

Mistakes in name pronunciation can also cause delays. Agencies frequently need to sift through huge databases for each name variation, such as Steve, Steven, Stephen.

Why Would An FBI Background Check Take So Long?

There are a few reasons why FBI background checks may take a long time. One reason is that the bureau has to conduct a thorough investigation into the individual’s background. This involves checking criminal and civil records and speaking with the individual’s family and friends to get an idea of their character.

Another reason the process may take a while is that the FBI receives numerous requests for background checks every day. The bureau has to prioritize which requests to investigate first, which can sometimes lead to longer wait times for those who have applied for a check.

Finally, some delays may occur if the FBI requests more information from the applicant or other agencies. The Identity History Summary is a review of one’s criminal history. The NCIC check reviews one’s criminal history and other records, such as warrants, missing person reports, etc.

FBI background checks offer a wide range of benefits to individuals and companies alike. Some of the key benefits of FBI background checks include:

  1. They provide an accurate and complete picture of an individual’s criminal history, which can help employers make informed decisions about hiring new employees.
  2. They help organizations keep track of employees who have a criminal history to take appropriate action (e.g., termination, reassignment) if necessary.
  3. Courts across the United States recognize FBI background checks as thorough and accurate. This means that they can be used as evidence in court proceedings if needed.
  4. FBI background checks are one of the most reliable ways to assess an individual’s information.


The FBI background check is an important step in the hiring process for many jobs, as it allows employers to assess potential employees’ criminal histories. In addition, a thorough background check can help employers protect their businesses and employees from harm.

While the FBI background check is thought of as a lengthy process, it is important to remember that the bureau conducts comprehensive searches of federal and state records to provide employers with the most accurate information.

An FBI background check can also help increase security by providing information about any criminal activity or history a person may have. 


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