Guide to Arkansas State Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
January 05, 2024
7 min read

Background checks help employers verify a candidate’s qualifications for a role, confirm job application details, and identify those who are a good fit for the position. Employers in Arkansas can choose from multiple screening options, including a review of a candidate’s criminal history, employment history, professional licenses, driving records, and more. However, it’s important to maintain compliance with local, state, and federal laws and guidelines when conducting Arkansas background checks. 

In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look into what you need to know about conducting compliant background checks in Arkansas.

Get an Arkansas background check today

What is an Arkansas background check?

An Arkansas background check is a search of public records, databases, and other sources to compile information about a candidate’s history that employers can use to help them identify candidates who are a good fit for their organization. Pre-employment screenings in Arkansas may include a search into a candidate’s criminal history, MVR records, employment history, credit history, and more. Depending on the role, it may also include drug testing to screen for current and prior substance use.

Any credentialed employer can conduct a pre-employment background screening. By law, some employees, such as those who work for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, schools and long-term care facilities are required to undergo background checks. Whether legally mandated or not, background checks can help you make more informed hiring decisions, minimize your liability risk, and create a safer work environment. Employers may handle the Arkansas background check process themselves or partner with a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr.

Arkansas background check laws

Employers in Arkansas must adhere to federal laws, the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993, applicable local Ban the Box laws, and other state regulations designed to protect candidates during the hiring process. 

Below is an overview of the laws and regulations that apply when conducting a background check for employment in Arkansas. You may wish to consult legal counsel and adhere to the most stringent laws and regulations to minimize the risk of legal issues during the background check process.

Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993

Summary: This Act prohibits employers from discriminating against candidates based on race, religion, ancestry or national origin, gender, or disability. See law.

Social Media Rule

Summary: Ark. Code Ann. § 11-2-124 prohibits employers from requiring candidates to grant them access to their social media accounts. You may not require candidates to change their privacy settings or request the username or password to a candidate’s accounts. See rule.

Sealing and expungement of criminal records

Summary: Under A.C.A. § 16-90-1417, a candidate with a sealed or expunged criminal record doesn’t have to disclose that information to the employer. If asked on an application or during an interview, candidates can legally say they have not been convicted of a crime. However, employers in some industries, including law enforcement, childcare, and nursing homes, may be able to see sealed records. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: The federal FCRA applies to employers that work with a CRA to complete background checks. Under the FCRA, employers must provide written notice to the candidate of your intent to conduct a background check and receive written approval from the candidate before proceeding. You must also follow the adverse action process if you decide not to move forward with an employment offer because of information that appears on the background check. See law.

Local Arkansas fair hiring laws 

Arkansas does not have a statewide Ban the Box law. However, some local jurisdictions within the state do, including:

  • Pulaski County: A Ban the Box law applies to public employers in the county.
  • Pine Bluff: A Ban the Box law applies to public employers in the city.
  • Little Rock: A Ban the Box law applies to public employers in the city.

What shows up on an Arkansas background check?

What shows up on an Arkansas background check depends on the number of screenings and the scope of each search, as each type of background check will report different types of information. Further, screenings typically vary by industry and position. To better understand what shows up, here are some common searches employers may run as part of a background check for employment in Arkansas.

    • An Arkansas criminal background check searches a candidate’s criminal history and may include arrest warrants, felony and misdemeanor convictions, and pending criminal cases.

    • Education verification gathers information about a person’s academic background, including schools they attended, attendance dates, graduation dates, and degrees earned.

    • Employment verification confirms a candidate’s work history, including previous employers, employment dates, and positions held.

    • Credit checks review a person’s credit reports, including their payment history, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and collection accounts.

    • MVR records checks include information about a person’s driving history, safety record, license status, and eligibility to drive for their job.

    • Professional license verification confirms the licenses a candidate holds and their status. These checks are often required in specific industries such as healthcare and education.

    • Professional reference checks involve speaking with a candidate’s previous employers to understand whether they would be a good fit for your organization.

    • Drug testing is used to identify current and prior use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and controlled substances.

    • Civil court searches review records from civil courts and may show information about non-criminal records, such as liens, judgments, lawsuits, and restraining orders.

How long does an Arkansas background check take?

The time it takes to complete an Arkansas background check varies based on multiple factors, including whether you complete it yourself or work with a CRA, the types of screenings you choose, your location, and the availability of records. The average turnaround time when working with a CRA is three to five days. However, if you handle background checks in-house, it can take weeks to request and review public records, contact previous employers and educational institutions, and coordinate drug testing.

To speed the turnaround times and streamline the process, many employers choose to work with a background check provider, like Checkr. Our advanced technology reduces manual processes to deliver faster and more accurate background checks so you can hire and onboard candidates quicker. Checkr’s candidate portal provides visibility into background check timelines, keeping both candidates and your hiring team informed of the status.

Get an Arkansas background check today

How far back does a background check go in Arkansas?

How far back an Arkansas state background check goes varies based on the type of records you’re searching. There’s no limit on the reporting period of misdemeanor and felony convictions, professional license checks, or education and employment history verification. In Arkansas, the lookback period for driving records checks ranges from three years to indefinitely, depending on the type you choose.

If you work with a CRA, the FCRA limits the lookback period for other types of records. Civil suits, civil judgments, paid tax liens, collection accounts, and arrest records that did not result in a conviction are limited to seven years. The lookback period for bankruptcies is limited to ten years. The reporting period for credit checks is limited to seven years for positions with an annual salary of $75,000 or less and ten years for positions with a salary over $75,000.

How to get a background check in Arkansas

There are two ways to get a background check in Arkansas — you can do it yourself or work with a qualified screening provider or CRA, like Checkr. If you opt to complete background checks yourself, you can order several types online. The process for getting an Arkansas background check online varies based on what you’re ordering. Below is a brief overview of how to order common screenings in Arkansas.

 Employers can request a name-based or FBI fingerprint-based criminal records check through the Arkansas State Police’s Official State of Arkansas Online Criminal Background Check System. Name-based requests are limited to Arkansas records, and they don’t include information from other states. FBI fingerprint-based checks include a national search and may include reportable offenses from other states.

Employers can order MVR checks through the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, though you may only obtain history records in person or by mail. Before requesting an MVR check, you must have the candidate complete a release form, permitting you to access their records.

While it’s possible to have your human resources team conduct background checks, you may need to order each check manually, which can be time-consuming and increase the risk of errors. Working with a CRA, like Checkr, can help you complete your background checks, hire, and onboard candidates faster. Our automated workflows improve accuracy and efficiency while keeping candidates and your hiring team up-to-date on the progress of each check.

How much does an Arkansas state background check cost?

The cost of running an Arkansas state background check depends on the screenings you include. If your hiring team conducts the background checks, you must pay for each check separately. When you order them from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, driving records checks range from $8.50 to $13.00. The cost of a criminal records check ranges from $11.00 to $22.00 when you order it from the Arkansas State Police.

CRAs, like Checkr, offer custom background check packages with multiple pricing tiers that allow you to choose the screenings you need based on your industry and the position you’re hiring for. You pay only for what you need and get all of your screenings in a single package.

Get an Arkansas background check with Checkr

Background checks are a valuable tool in helping employers identify candidates who are qualified for employment at your organization. Using background checks to verify a candidate’s qualifications and eligibility for a role helps minimize organizational risk and create a safer working environment for all your employees.

At Checkr, we use machine learning and automated workflows to create a better candidate experience and speed up your hiring and onboarding process. Our built-in compliance tools support compliance with the latest federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Checkr’s mobile-first, user-friendly dashboard provides candidates and hiring teams real-time status updates.

Choose from customizable background check options that may include criminal records checks, MVR checks, employment history checks, and more. Get started with Checkr.

Get an Arkansas background check today


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.

Headshot of Danielle HubeinHeadshot of Danielle Hubein

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. 

Related resources