Guide to Colorado Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
March 24, 2023
8 min read

Employers may conduct a background check in Colorado to help verify a candidate’s qualifications. However, whether checking a candidate’s criminal history, motor vehicle reports, verifying their employment, or performing any other type of screening, employers typically need to follow federal, state, county, and local laws.

This guide to background checks in Colorado can help employers understand what is involved with pre-employment background screenings and how they are typically conducted. Whether your organization chooses to conduct background checks directly, or screen candidates using a trusted consumer reporting agency (CRA), it is important to follow Colorado background check laws for employment, along with federal and local regulations.

Get a Colorado
background check today

What is a Colorado background check?

An employment background check in Colorado may include one or more types of screenings to search and review public records to provide additional insight about a candidate’s history. Common types of Colorado background checks include:

  • Criminal background checks in Colorado to search national, federal, state, or county criminal records and reveal misdemeanor and felony convictions.
  • Motor vehicle record (MVR) checks to review a candidate’s license status and driving record
  • Education or professional license verification to confirm a candidate’s academic credentials, degrees earned, or current licensure.
  • Employment verification to confirm previous employers, positions held, length of employment, and identify any employment gaps.
  • Drug testing to help maintain a safe and productive work environment.

Under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), most public records are required to be available to the public. Both state and county criminal records are maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). An employment background check in Colorado can be done directly by the employer, or you can choose to partner with a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr.

How far back do background checks go in Colorado?

How far back background checks go in Colorado depends on the type of screening you’re conducting and whether you’re working with a CRA or searching on your own. Colorado employers that work with a CRA must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA restricts non-conviction information reported by a CRA to a 7-year lookback period which includes arrests, civil judgments, tax liens, and most credit report information.

Criminal history obtained through a CBI background check extends back 7 years. Driving records maintained by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles generally reflect activity from the past 7 years.

There are additional Colorado state, city and county-specific laws that restrict how and when employers may use information gathered in the hiring process. (See “Colorado background check laws for employment” and “County resources,” below.)

When conducting checks without the help of a CRA, employers may go back as far as needed to verify education, employment history, credentialing, or licensing.

Get a Colorado
background check today

Colorado background check laws for employment

In Colorado, employers should be aware of Colorado background check laws that apply to the hiring process –  including fair hiring practices and regulations for Colorado criminal background checks. Here is a closer look at Colorado background check law for employment.

Colorado Employment Opportunity Act

Summary: Under this Colorado law, employers that have more than four employees generally are not allowed to check a candidate’s credit history. There are, however, some exceptions, such as when a credit check is required by law or if the candidate’s credit information is “substantially related” to the job.

Also, positions related to the federal government or space agencies along with jobs that may deal with defense, intelligence, or national security are excluded from the act. Due to the sensitive nature of these roles, an employer can conduct credit checks as part of their hiring process. See law.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

Summary: Designed to help protect candidates against wage discrimination, Colorado employers are generally prohibited from asking about a candidate’s past salary information as part of employment verification during the hiring process. Employers also cannot use someone’s wage history to determine the salary or pay rate for the job the candidate is now applying. See law.

Statewide Ban the Box laws

In Colorado there are two statewide Ban the Box laws which are designed to help protect candidates by regulating how criminal background checks in Colorado can be used during the hiring process.  One focuses on public agencies and the other is comprehensive.

House Bill 12-1263

Summary: Under this law, state agencies in Colorado cannot state anything in a job posting with regard to people with criminal records not being able to apply. These employers are also prohibited from conducting a background check unless the candidate is a finalist for the job or has received a conditional employment offer.

Employers that fall under this law also cannot make a decision to make or withdraw a job offer based on a criminal conviction unless the employer determines the candidate should be disqualified after considering the nature of the conviction; the job duties as they relate to the conviction; how much time has passed since the conviction; and any rehabilitation efforts and good behavior since the conviction.

This law also does not allow applicable employers to withdraw their employment offer or not offer a job because of an arrest or non-conviction. See law.

Clean Slate Act

Summary: Under this law, court records for non-violent crimes are automatically sealed in certain situations. Civil misdemeanors are limited to 4 years after the final disposition for civil infractions, criminal misdemeanors are limited to 7 years, and and 10 years  for felonies after the final disposition or release from jail. See law.

It’s important to note that the FCRA may preempt state laws like Colorado’s law, and the FCRA allows reporting of criminal convictions indefinitely.

Colorado Chance to Compete Act

Summary: Under this law, which applies to all Colorado employers, employers are allowed to access a candidate’s publicly available criminal background reports at any time during the hiring process. The law, however, prohibits certain activities, including:

  • Adding language in a job posting or application forbidding people with a criminal history from applying
  • Inquiring about or requiring a a candidate to provide information about their criminal history on the initial application

An employer may be excluded from following this law if the role requires a criminal background check by law or regulation. Also, if the job is part of hiring programs that encourage employers to hire people with criminal histories, the employer could be exempt. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Employers conducting Colorado background checks through a CRA must also comply with federal FCRA requirements. Under the FCRA, employers are required to properly disclose their intent to conduct a background check, get written consent from the candidate, and follow the adverse action process should they decide not to offer a candidate a job due to information discovered in a background check.

Employers that are unsure of Colorado background check laws for employment may wish to comply with the strictest laws to avoid potential liability. See law.

County resources

Use the resources below to learn about Ban the Box laws and public records in some of Colorado’s largest counties.

Alameda County

Home to nearly 520,000 people, Adams County is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area. There are many recreational trails, a state park, and the nationally-protected Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. The county’s key industries include aerospace, agribusiness and beverages, aviation, biosciences, energy, and manufacturing.

Public Information & Records

Get a Colorado
background check today

Arapahoe County

Arapahoe County is home to more than 655,000 people and is the third most-populous county in Colorado. It is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area, and its county seat is Littleton. The county features is located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and has many recreational trails, historic trails, and a state park. It also has five golf courses and nearly 100 parks, plus 5,000 acres of open space.

Public Information & Records

Boulder County

Boulder County has a population of more than 330,000 people, and its county seat is the city of Boulder. The county has many nationally- and state-protected wilderness areas and forests, including part of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is also home to scenic trails and byways. Some of Boulder County’s key industries include aerospace, biotech, IT, manufacturing, and tourism. It also offers arts and culture, world-renowned restaurants, and many outdoor recreational activities.

Public Information & Records

Denver County

Denver County has a population of more than 715,000 people and is consolidated with the city of Denver, Colorado’s most populous city and state capital. While Denver is an urban area, it is located between the High Plains and Rocky Mountains, and has many outdoor recreation areas. Ranked in the top 20 US metro economies, many large corporations are headquartered in Denver. It also has a thriving arts and culture scene, plus professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer teams.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to public sector employers in the city and county of Denver, including a criminal background check for self-employed independent contractors.

Douglas County

Douglas County is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area and is located between Colorado Springs and Denver. It has nearly 360,000 residents and has the highest median income in the state. The county has many outdoor recreational areas, including trails, state parks, and part of Pike National Forest. Key industries in the county include aerospace, bioscience, communications, financial services, and healthcare.

Public Information & Records

El Paso County

El Paso County has more than 730,000 residents, making it Colorado’s most populous county. The county seat is Colorado Springs, which is also the second most populous city in the state of Colorado. The county has both nationally- and state-protected forests and state parks along with many recreational trails and historic sites, like Pikes Peak National Historic Landmark. There are also Army, Air Force, and Space Force military bases in El Paso county.

Public Information & Records

Jefferson County

With a population of more than 580,000 residents, Jefferson County is one of Colorado’s most populous counties and is included in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area. Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Rocky Mountains,” Jefferson County is home to numerous nationally-protected forests, wildlife refuge areas, plus many parks, trails, and scenic byways. Coors Brewing Company is headquartered in the county, and other key industries include aerospace, bioscience, healthcare, hospitality, construction, and manufacturing.

Public Information & Records

Larimer County

With a population of nearly 360,000 people, Larimer County is located in north central Colorado, bordering Wyoming to the north. The county seat is the city of Fort Collins. The county has numerous nationally- and state-protected wilderness areas, forests, and parks. The county is also known for scenic byways, bicycle routes, and trails, plus several canyons and mountain ranges. A portion of Rocky Mountain National Park is also located within the county. Key industries include advanced energy and bioscience, along with craft beer brewing, with Fort Collins producing 70 percent of craft beer in the state.

Public Information & Records

Pueblo County

Just over 168,000 residents live in Pueblo County. The city of Pueblo is the county seat. The county is home to several trails and byways, plus two nationally-protected areas, the San Isabel National Forest and the Greenhorn Mountain Wilderness. There are numerous cultural attractions, including museums, a zoo, and the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk. Key industries include healthcare and industrial manufacturing, along with a rich history in steel and agriculture. Today the county is one of Colorado’s top producers of vegetables, melons, and cattle.

Public Information & Records

Weld County

Weld County is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area and is home to nearly 330,000 people. The county is the third-largest in Colorado and is located in the eastern part of the state where the geography is mostly flat. Weld County has several nationally- and state-protected areas, including the Pawnee National Grassland. Ranked in the top five agriculturally-rich counties in the US, Weld county produces cattles, grain, and sugar beets. Oil and natural gas production are also key industries.

Public Information & Records

Get a Colorado background check for employment with Checkr

Colorado employers looking for a more streamlined approach to a background check in Colorado can benefit from partnering with a trusted background check provider, like Checkr. Partnering with Checkr enables employers of all sizes to conduct background checks with accurate results and fast turnaround times. Our platform offers many background screening options with built-in compliance tools and automated workflows to simplify the hiring process while reducing bias. Get started with a Colorado background check for employment.

Get a Colorado
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