What Are Background Checks Like in Other Countries? 5 Examples

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to perform a background check outside the United States?

Not surprisingly, background screening is a very different concept and process in other countries.

As an employer, you might be interested in learning what this undertaking is like in five of the countries in which HireRight commonly conducts checks.

This is important knowledge to have because, odds are, you may recruit someone who’s lived, worked, or studied in one of these countries, or maybe down the road, your organization may want to do business in one of these places.

No matter where you are in the world, though, a background check is an important step to take to better ensure you’re hiring good people, mitigating unnecessary risks for your organization, and creating a positive, supportive environment for your employees and customers.

Below are five countries where you may be in the market for hiring someone, and a few thoughts about the background check environments there.

Of course, you should work with legal experts knowledgeable in the particular market where you’re hiring to help you design a program that is compliant and compatible with your organization’s needs.

Laws and regulations can differ by industry and role, so you’ll want to have a discussion with your legal counsel before screening outside of the United States.


Background checks are permissible in Canada, as long as there is consent from the applicant, and as long as you pay close attention to proportionality — be sure the risks you’re examining are pertinent to the type of role and its level within the organizational structure.


Avoid the term background check, because it’s culturally frowned upon in Germany.

You’ll get a much better reception if you call it “information verification” and make it clear that you’re simply verifying the information the candidate has provided.

That said, pre-employment background checks are generally permissible here.

Just be sure to have consents with the appropriate specificity in place, and pay close attention to proportionality, because the laws and culture here definitely do.

Credit checks, for example, should only be used when deemed appropriate and proportional for the role.


Background checks are viewed as acceptable in India, which is a good thing because, as with applicants in other countries, there’s always the possibility of falsification and exaggeration on applications and résumés.


Background checks can be acceptable in Mexico as long as you have consent from the applicant.

Criminal records are kept at the state level, so you’ll need an accurate list of past addresses.

United Kingdom

The UK is quite accepting of the concept of background checks, generally as much so as in the United States and Canada.

Consent is required, and criminal screens are subject to some restrictions that take into account the type of position and its responsibilities.

Professional references are often used in the UK to help judge the suitability of a candidate.

To learn more about what a background check is like in other countries around the world, we encourage you to download a copy of our new book Background Checks for Dummies.

Free eBook: Background Checks for Dummies
Background Checks For Dummies [eBook]
Background Checks For Dummies [eBook]

Your guide to help reduce hiring risk and improve your quality of hire.

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Kim Nelson

Kim Nelson leads a team of highly creative people that inspire her to find new and engaging ways to help HR professionals stay current on trends in human capital management. In her free time, she loves to travel and follow her palate, searching for the world’s best food and drink.

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