Guide to Arizona State Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
August 31, 2023
6 min read

Arizona pre-employment background checks can be used by employers to make more informed hiring decisions. From criminal history to credit reports and motor vehicle records, there are many types of screenings that can help hiring managers learn more about a candidate’s history. However, navigating federal, state, and local laws can sometimes be challenging. This guide covers what employers need to know about how to conduct an Arizona state background check.

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What is an Arizona background check?

An employment background check in Arizona searches public records, databases, and other sources to provide information about an individual, which may include their criminal records, driving history, education, drug use, and professional background.

Employers can use an Arizona pre-employment background check to evaluate a job candidate’s eligibility, verify information on an application or resume, and determine if the individual is qualified for the role. Conducting pre-employment screenings can also help employers mitigate risk, create safer workplaces, and prevent potential legal issues.

In some cases, background checks in Arizona may be mandated by law within specific industries or for certain types of employment. For example, Arizona childcare workers are required by law to undergo background checks that search for offenses that would prevent working with children both prior to beginning a job and every five years thereafter.

What shows up on an Arizona background check?

Depending on the type of Arizona State background checks an employer runs, a check may show criminal history, motor vehicle records, education and employment information, credit history, court records, or current and prior drug use if drug testing is conducted.

Here is a closer look at some of the most common types of employment background checks in Arizona:

  • Criminal background checks search an individual’s criminal record to identify arrests, convictions, incarcerations, and both current and past arrest warrants.
  • Driving record checks search Arizona driving records, which are maintained by the Motor Vehicle Department of the Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT), and may include license status, license suspensions, a history of other licenses, endorsements, traffic violations, accidents, and vehicle-related convictions like DUIs.
  • Education verification confirms an individual’s academic history, such as schools attended, degrees earned, and dates of attendance and graduation.
  • Credit checks search a candidate’s credit history and show financial information like accounts in collections, payment history, and bankruptcies. This type of check is often used for jobs that require financial responsibility.
  • Employment verification validates an individual’s professional work history, including past employers, positions held, and employment dates.
  • Civil searches look into a candidate’s civil court records and can return various types of non-criminal information, such as lawsuits, liens, judgments, and restraining orders.
  • Drug testing screens an individual for common illicit substances and certain abused prescription medications. Pre-employment drug tests can help employers stay compliant with their company’s drug policy as well as industry regulations. They also may be used to mitigate risk and create a safer work environment.

How long does a background check take in Arizona?

Turnaround times for background screenings can vary from a few minutes to a few weeks depending on the type of screening, the scope of the search, and who is conducting the check. Tasks like contacting previous employers, requesting public records, or coordinating drug screenings can contribute to longer turnaround times, especially when done manually.

When employers outsource pre-employment screenings to a background check service provider, like Checkr, they often experience a faster, more streamlined process. A typical background check with a CRA often takes three to five days to complete, but can move even faster.

At Checkr, 84% of reports are completed in under an hour, and we also provide an easy-to-use candidate portal that gives candidates a transparent view into their background check status every step of the way.

How far back does a background check go in Arizona?

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), criminal convictions can be reported by a CRA indefinitely, while most non-conviction criminal information is limited to a seven-year compliance lookback period. Civil judgments, tax liens, and most credit information is also limited to seven years, while bankruptcies have a lookback period of ten years. However, these limitations may not apply if the candidate’s expected salary is $75,000 or higher, or in some special circumstances.

An employer who chooses to conduct an investigation directly (without a CRA) on an individual, may not obtain the comprehensive information they're looking for. State and local public agencies sometimes have restrictions on how long they retain or make public certain information. For example, Arizona motor vehicle records are limited to three years for unofficial records and five years for certified copies.

How to get a background check in Arizona

Employers can choose to perform an Arizona background check directly or partner with a qualified CRA. Employers that conduct screenings on their own can order reports online, by mail, or in person from courthouses and law enforcement agencies.

Each screening will have a distinct ordering process. For example, if an Arizona employer with noncriminal justice access would like to order a criminal history record for a job candidate, they may participate in the Noncriminal Justice (NCJ) Compliance Program and follow the program’s guidelines for ordering records. Access to this type of Arizona criminal background check for pre-employment is limited to employers within the state.

To obtain a motor vehicle record, employers may submit a request online through the AZ MVD Now portal. Sometimes, employers may also need to contact a candidate’s past employers for professional references or contact educational institutions to confirm a candidate’s education history.

Hiring managers working with a CRA often experience a more efficient process with comprehensive and accurate reporting. A CRA like Checkr can perform multiple types of background checks at scale and provide access to built-in support tools that help ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

How much does an Arizona background check cost?

The cost of an Arizona background check varies depending on the type of screenings ordered, who is conducting the checks, and how many background checks are needed. When an employer conducts background checks in Arizona directly, they may have to pay fees to obtain an individual’s records.

When partnering with a CRA, like Checkr, companies of all sizes can benefit from access to a wide range of searches and different pricing packages and add-on options that can help employers customize their background checks and only pay for the reports they need. At Checkr, a basic background check package starts at $29.99.

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Arizona employment background check laws

Arizona currently has one statewide Ban the Box law that restricts when certain public-sector employers can inquire about criminal history, as well as several additional state-wide fair hiring laws. Local Ban the Box laws may also apply in certain Arizona counties and cities. Employers who are unsure of which Arizona background check laws may apply should consider consulting with legal counsel and staying compliant with the strictest laws to avoid potential legal liability.

Ban the Box, Executive Order 2017-07

Summary: Arizona’s Ban the Box law restricts some state agencies from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history on a job application unless prior criminal conduct would prohibit an individual from being hired under federal or state law. Those state agencies can only ask about a candidate’s criminal history after the first job interview has been completed. See law.

Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA)

Summary: Under the ACRA, employers are allowed to conduct Arizona criminal background checks. However, if they ask a candidate to disclose conviction information on a job application, the employer must inform the individual that a past conviction will not automatically disqualify them from a role. The ACRA applies to both public- and private-sector Arizona employers. See law.

Arizona Senate Bill 1294

Summary: This Arizona law mandates that criminal records be sealed for individuals who have never been charged with a crime, been found not guilty, or have completed other charge-specific requirements. Once records are sealed, the candidate does not have to state any involvement with the crime in question, including arrests, charges, or convictions. Certain exceptions may apply for roles where a candidate’s criminal history would be grounds for disqualification—such as a sealed record involving child abuse when the role requires working with minors. See law.

Arizona Senate Bill 1504

Summary: This statewide law applies to Arizona background checks for individuals working in childcare. Under this law, certain employers—like child care resource and referral agencies or Department of Economic Security-certified home child care providers, group homes, and child care centers—are required to conduct pre-employment background checks and follow-up checks every five years.

In addition, all those associated with home-based childcare centers must submit fingerprints for further checks, such as a national FBI fingerprint check, NCIC national sex offender registry search, Arizona sex offender registry search, and state criminal records check with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The law requires that additional searches must be conducted through the Arizona Child Abuse and Neglect Registry as well as criminal history databases, sex offender registries, and child abuse registries of the states the candidate previously lived in. Disqualifying offenses include child abuse, incest, and sex trafficking. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Employers that choose to partner with a CRA for Arizona background checks should comply with the FCRA. Under the FCRA, candidates should receive written notice of the intent to conduct a background check and provide their written consent. In addition, if the information on a background check disqualifies the candidate from a role, employers should follow the adverse action process. See law.

Fair hiring laws

Local Ban the Box laws regulate public sector hiring in some Arizona counties and cities, including:

  • Glendale: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Maricopa County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Phoenix: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Pima County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Tempe: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Tucson: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.

Get an Arizona background check with Checkr

Arizona employers that partner with a CRA like Checkr for background checks can benefit from a streamlined process and more accurate, comprehensive reporting. With faster access to multiple screening options, a user-friendly dashboard, and seamless integration with 100+ ATS and HRIS platforms, Checkr helps employers implement a more efficient background check experience for hiring managers and candidates. Get started.

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The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

As Compliance Manager, Danielle analyzes the ever-changing laws and regulations affecting background screening to ensure that Checkr and its customers stay compliant. She also writes content to educate employers about background checks, screening best practices, and fair hiring laws. 

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