Guide to Florida Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
April 27, 2023
11 min read

Pre-employment background checks may be used by Florida employers to help verify a candidate’s qualifications during the hiring process. There are many different types of background checks available such as criminal history, employment and education verification, and driving records. However, when conducting a background check employers must remain in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

A Florida background check for employment can provide valuable information to employers about a candidate’s history that goes beyond an employment application or resume. During the hiring process, employers can choose to screen candidates directly or use a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA). This guide to Florida background checks cover the details of what they include, how they’re conducted, and which federal, state, and local laws may apply.

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What is a Florida background check?

A Florida background check is often used by employers to screen candidates or volunteers to help verify their qualifications or eligibility for a role. The process typically involves collecting and reviewing information from different types of public records. Background checks can be conducted by the organization directly or employers can choose to work with a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr.

Florida employers may choose or be required to conduct several types of screenings for a pre-employment background check, including:

  • Criminal background checks to search a candidate’s criminal history, including federal, state, and county criminal records to report any felony or misdemeanor convictions.
  • Employment verification to confirm previous employers, positions held, length of employment, and identify any employment gaps.
  • Education verification to confirm a candidate’s educational background, including schools attended, dates of attendance, and degrees earned.
  • Motor vehicle records (MVR) checks to search a candidate’s driving history within the state of Florida, including license class and status, any safety-related incidents such as accidents, moving violations, or vehicle-related criminal convictions like DUIs.
  • Drug testing to screen for the presence of alcohol and controlled substances to promote a safe workplace. Florida employers who establish a drug-free workplace program following state guidelines may qualify for discounts on workers compensation insurance.

Levels of Florida background checks

In Florida, there are two levels of background checks that apply to employers who are legally required to screen employees under and FL Statute 943.0452 Under these statutes, state agencies and employers in regulated industries – such as healthcare or childcare – must perform Level 1 and Level 2 Florida background checks directly through local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

Employers outside regulated industries have the choice to partner with a qualified consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr, to perform Florida employment background checks or conduct searches on their own. Employers in regulated industries may also work with a CRA in order to conduct other screenings or gather additional background information beyond what is included in Level 1 and Level 2 checks. Level 1 and Level 2 background checks in Florida are only required for state agencies and employers in certain industries. Most organizations in Florida can conduct regular employment screening through a CRA, like Checkr.

Here’s what else you need to know about Level 1 and Level 2 background checks:

Level 1 background check in Florida

A Florida Level 1 background check is a name-based search of Florida records used by state agencies and regulated industries. A Level 1 check may include employment history verification, a statewide criminal background check, and review of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website. If a criminal record is discovered during a Level 1 background check, details are not provided about the offense. Employers may also choose to conduct criminal records checks through local law enforcement agencies.

Level 2 background check in Florida

A Level 2 background check in Florida is a Florida fingerprint background check that searches state and national criminal records. It is also used by state agencies and regulated industries. State criminal record searches are conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, while national criminal record screenings are conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

This type of background check also reveals if a candidate is on a sex offender list in Florida or nationally. Depending on the check, it may also include criminal records maintained by local law enforcement agencies.

How long does a background check take in Florida?

The time it takes to complete a Florida background check for employment depends on who is conducting the screening and the type of records being requested. For example, if an employer is in a regulated industry and is legally required to conduct a Level 1 or Level 2 background check in Florida, they will need to go through local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies directly which may be more time consuming.

Florida employers and organizations not within regulated industries may choose to partner with a professional background provider that is a qualified CRA, like Checkr, for faster turnaround times. With access to thousands of databases and relationships with courthouses across the country, a CRA can provide comprehensive reporting with a streamlined process.

Checkr’s unique platform feature, Checkr ETA, uses machine learning to provide an estimated turnaround time for each background check report at the county level. This provides both employers and applicants with more transparency into how long a background check likely takes.

How far back does a background check go in Florida?

Generally in Florida, there are no state laws regulating how far back a pre-employment background check can go. This means that some types of screenings may be able to look indefinitely into someone’s history – including criminal records. However, local city and county Ban the Box laws may limit how someone’s criminal background can impact consideration for a job.

Employers in Florida who conduct background checks through a CRA must also comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA restricts most information reported by a CRA to a seven-year lookback period. This includes arrest records, civil judgments, tax liens, and most credit report information. It excludes bankruptcies, which may be reported for up to 10 years, and criminal convictions, which may be reported indefinitely. If a candidate’s expected salary is $75,000 or higher, the seven-year limitation may not apply.

Florida pre-employment background check laws

Employers must comply with federal and state regulations, plus any applicable local restrictions like Ban the Box and fair hiring laws when conducting Florida employee background checks. Since pre-employment background checks may reveal potentially adverse information, these laws provide candidate rights and help protect against potential employer bias and discrimination.

The state of Florida has stated that companies can significantly reduce the risk of negligent hiring claims if a background check is run before the hiring of an employee. In this instance background checks are mandated to go through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. If the employer performs a criminal records check and does not discover adverse information that would disqualify a candidate from being hired or promoted, it’s presumed the employer was not negligent during the hiring process.

Here is what else you need to know about Florida background check laws:

Many states have Ban the Box laws that impact when employers are permitted to ask about a candidate's criminal history or run a criminal background check during the hiring process. However, in Florida, there is no statewide Ban the Box law. Some Florida cities and counties have enacted their own Ban the Box regulations, so employers should pay close attention to the hiring laws by jurisdiction.

Senate Bill 898 – Miya’s Law

Summary: Under Senate Bill 898, known as “Miya’s Law,” landlords are required to conduct pre-employment background checks as part of their hiring process. To be compliant, landlords must use a CRA to handle the screening and include a sex offender registry search across all 50 states and the District of Columbia plus a criminal history. If the background check reveals that a candidate was found guilty of certain violent offenses they may be disqualified from employment for safety reasons. See law..

Many other cities and counties in California also have local fair hiring or Ban the Box laws that may apply to your organization and your candidates. See the County Resources below for more information, and check with your city and county governments to learn more about laws in your jurisdiction.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: In Florida, employers not only need to follow state and local laws when conducting a background check, but also must be in compliance with FCRA requirements. Under these regulations, employers must be sure to include proper disclosure of the intent to conduct a background check, get written candidate consent, and have an adverse action process in place in the event an offer is not extended as a result of what’s found on a pre-employment background check. See law..

If employers have questions about Florida background check laws, they should consult legal counsel or other experts to help them determine what laws are applicable. Some employers may wish to comply with the strictest laws to avoid potential liability.

County resources

Use the resources below to learn about Ban the Box laws and public records in some of Florida's largest counties:

Alachua County

Alachua County is home to more than 278,000 residents and located in the north central portion of Florida. Much of the county’s economy revolves around the University of Florida, which is located in the city of Gainesville. Attractions include hundreds of miles of trails and outdoor activities, along with many arts and cultural attractions. There is also a thriving craft beer and restaurant scene in the county.

Public Information & Records:

  • Ban the Box laws apply to all employers in Gainesville.

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Brevard County

Brevard County is located on the Atlantic coast of Florida and has a population of more than 600,000 people. It is known for its beautiful beaches, Cape Canaveral, and Port Canaveral, one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. Brevard County is also home to the once active NASA/Kennedy Space Center, home to the US Space Shuttle launches until 2010 when the program was discontinued. There are also several military bases located in the county.

Public Information & Records:

Broward County

Broward County is part of the Miami metropolitan area and is Florida’s second-most populous county with nearly 2 million residents. Fort Lauderdale is the county’s largest city and also the county seat. Travel is a major industry and the county is home to the headquarters of several airlines, including Spirit Airlines. There are several universities and colleges in the county, plus the Broward County Library is one of the largest public library systems in the US.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Broward County.  Ban the Box laws also apply to all employers in Pompano Beach and Tamarac.

Duval County

Located in Florida’s northeastern corner, Duval County is home to nearly one million residents. The county seat is Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city and the largest city in the US by land area. There are several military bases in Jacksonville, making it the third largest military presence in the US. Other key cities include Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. The county is known for golf, but also includes beaches, many cultural attractions, and the federally-protected Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Jacksonville.

Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County is located in the west central portion of Florida. It is home to more than 1.5 million people and the fourth-most populous county in the state. Its county seat is the city of Tampa. There are many federal agencies located in the county, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (DEA), US Marshall’s Service, US Customs and Border Protection, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Tampa; at present it does not apply to contractors.

Lee County

Home to nearly 800,000 people, Lee County is located in Southwestern Florida’s Gulf Coast. Cities include Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Sanibel Island. The county has many beaches, islands, and several nationally-protected wildlife refuges. There are several colleges in Lee County, and both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins maintain spring training facilities in the county. The county also offers ferries access to Key West.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Fort Myers and Tallahassee.

Miami-Dade County

Located in southeastern Florida, Miami-Dade county is home to more than 2.7 million residents and is the most populous county in Florida. The county seat is the city of Miami, which ranks in the top ten largest metropolitan areas of the United States. Miami-Dade county is also home to two national parks, the Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park, along with the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves. Tourism is a top industry and many airlines and cruise lines are headquartered in the Miami area.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to county employers in Miami-Dade County.

Orange County

More than 1.4 million people live in Orange County, located in central Florida . The county seat is the city of Orlando, which is also home to Disneyworld and many other amusement parks and family attractions. In addition to a thriving hospitality and tourism industry, aerospace, aviation, and healthcare organizations are all key industries. Orange County is home to several colleges, including the University of Central Florida, the largest university in the US.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Orlando.

Palm Beach County

Home to more than 1.5 million people, Palm Beach County is located in the southeastern portion of Florida, just north of Broward County and Miami-Dade County. It is part of the greater Miami metropolitan area. West Palm Beach is the county seat and also the largest city in the county. The county is known for its many beautiful beaches and also has many protected natural areas, state parks, and environmental preserves. Several Major League Baseball teams spring train during the winter months in Palm Beach County, along with minor league affiliate teams.

Public Information & Records

Pinellas County

Pinellas County is home to nearly one million people and is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area. It is located on the peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg is both the largest city in the county and the state of Florida, however, Clearwater is the county seat. There are many beaches, a national wildlife refuge and several state parks and preserves. The county was historically known for citrus and cattle ranching, and today it is a manufacturing hub.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

Polk County

Polk County is in Florida’s central region and is home to more than 725,000 people. Tourism is a major industry, with Legoland being a popular attraction. Mining and agriculture are also key industries, and both Publix grocery chain and Florida’s Natural are headquartered in the country. Polk County is known for sports, particularly professional baseball spring training and college sports. The county is also home to many colleges and universities, including Florida Southern College.

Public Information & Records

Sarasota County

Located in southwest Florida, Sarasota County is home to more than 434,000 people. The county’s biggest city is North Port and the county seat is Sarasota. Key industries include financial services, healthcare, hospitality, and technology. There is also a thriving tourism industry with Sarasota County’s beaches and resorts, including several of the Florida Keys, along with many arts and cultural attractions.

Public Information & Records:

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Sarasota.

Volusia County

Volusia County is located in east-central Florida and home to over 550,000 residents. It is part of the Deltona-Daytona-Beach-Ormond Beach metropolitan area and its county seat is DeLand. The county has many parks and gardens, along with many beaches. There are also arts and cultural attractions and a wildlife refuge. The Daytona International Speedway is located in Daytona Beach. Key industries include aviation and aerospace, manufacturing, finance, insurance, and tourism.

Public Information & Records:

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in Daytona Beach.

Get a Florida background check with Checkr

As an employer in Florida, working with a qualified background check provider can help streamline the hiring process with speed, accuracy, and access to the right screening resources. Checkr offers many background screening options – including criminal background checks, credit history, and motor vehicle records to meet the needs of any size business. Our modern platform has built-in compliance tools and automated workflows to enable faster, fair hiring. Get started with background checks in Florida.

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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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