Guide to North Carolina Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
July 07, 2023
4 min read

Employers may use North Carolina background checks to learn more about a candidate’s history – including their criminal record, employment, education, or driving record. But navigating compliance regulations can be challenging. Here’s what employers need to know about a North Carolina background check for employment, including types of screenings, turnaround times, and laws that may apply.

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What is a North Carolina background check?

A North Carolina background check may be used by employers to confirm a candidate or volunteer’s qualifications or eligibility for a role. In some cases, such as child care workers, background screenings may be required to comply with industry regulations. Background checks can also help employers maintain a safer work environment, mitigate potential risk, and help protect against liability claims.

Here is a closer looks at common background checks in North Carolina:

  • Criminal background checks search federal, state, or county records to reveal if a candidate has a criminal history, including felony and misdemeanor convictions.
  • Driving record checks search North Carolina’s state motor vehicle records for a candidate’s driving history, including their license type and status, moving violations, accidents, and vehicle-related convictions.
  • Credit checks look into a candidate’s credit history, such as payment history, accounts in collections, and bankruptcies.
  • Education verification validates a candidate’s academic history, including schools attended, dates of attendance, and degrees earned.
  • Employment verification confirms a candidate’s job history, including past employers, dates of employment, and positions held.
  • Civil searches check civil court records for a candidate’s legal history beyond criminal records, such as lawsuits, liens, judgments, and restraining orders.
  • Drug tests screen for the presence of controlled substances and/or alcohol.

How much is a background check in North Carolina?

The cost of a background check in NC varies depending on the type of search and how they are obtained. Other factors that may affect the cost include the service provider, scope of the search, and search volume. Employers that choose to conduct pre-employment background checks by requesting records directly from law enforcement agencies or courthouses may have to pay fees for such records.

For example, a fingerprint-based North Carolina criminal history report ordered from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) has a $14 processing fee, while a federal criminal record check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) costs $18. Using a third party background check provider, like Checkr, can help streamline processes and save you money, with background check packages starting at $29.99.

How long does a background check take in North Carolina?

The turnaround time for a North Carolina background check depends on a variety of factors, including how and where the records are stored, the scope of the screening, and who is conducting the search. For example, some records may be available digitally, while others may need to be requested over the phone, by mail, or by visiting a courthouse. Employers that choose to handle background checks directly may find searching records to be a time-consuming process.

However, turnaround times can be sped up significantly by partnering with a trusted background check provider, also known as a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr. Checkr’s database screenings, such as National Criminal Records Checks and SSN Trace, typically only take just seconds to complete. And when some background checks take longer, such as county criminal record checks, the Checkr ETA tool provides both the employer and candidate with updates. Checkr also provides peace of mind by helping employers support compliance with federal, state, and local hiring laws.

How to get a background check in North Carolina

To get a North Carolina background check, employers can conduct screenings on their own, including requesting criminal records or motor vehicle records and contacting past employers for job history and professional references.

However, handling background checks directly can be time consuming, costly, and even confusing for hiring managers – especially when it comes to remaining compliant with federal, state, and local laws. Employers that choose to work with a CRA, like Checkr, often benefit from a more streamlined process with quicker turnaround times and more comprehensive reporting with built-in features that support compliance.

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background check today

North Carolina background check laws

There is one statewide Ban the Box law that applies to public sector employers when conducting criminal background checks in North Carolina for employment. Local Ban the Box and fair hiring laws may also apply, depending on the city or county. To stay compliant and mitigate the risk of potential liability, North Carolina employers may wish to comply with the strictest laws during the background check process.

Ban the Box

Summary: Executive Order No. 158 applies to state agencies conducting criminal background checks in NC and prohibits North Carolina state agencies from doing the following during the hiring process:

  • Including any questions related to a candidate’s criminal history on employment applications
  • Asking a candidate about their criminal history before the first job interview
  • Making hiring decisions based on certain types of convictions and charges – including expunged or pardoned convictions; convictions and charges not related to the position; not-guilty or dismissed charges; and arrests with no convictions
  • Considering a candidate’s criminal record unless it is related to the role, has a business necessity, or federal or state regulations prohibit hiring candidates with criminal convictions (such as public safety positions)

In the event that a background check reveals that a candidate has a criminal record, public sector employers must allow the candidate a chance to provide proof of rehabilitation, such as a certificate of relief, or an explanation surrounding the circumstances. While North Carolina’s Ban the Box law is only legally applicable to public sector employers, private sector employers are encouraged to follow the same regulations. See law.

Faire Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Employers in North Carolina that partner with a CRA to conduct pre-employment background checks must comply with federal FCRA requirements to protect the candidate. Under this law, employers are required to give a candidate proper disclosure of their intent to perform a background check, obtain written consent, and follow the adverse action process if they decide against hiring a candidate based on information discovered on the screening. See law.

Fair hiring laws

In North Carolina, local fair hiring regulations, such as Ban the Box laws, apply in certain counties and cities as follows:

  • Asheville: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Buncombe County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Charlotte: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Cumberland County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Durham: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the city government.
  • Durham County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Forsyth County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Mecklenburg County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.
  • Spring Lake: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the town government.
  • Wake County: A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.

Get a background check with Checkr

Employers that choose to partner with Checkr for a North Carolina state background check benefit from a more efficient background check process with access to multiple screening options for comprehensive and accurate reporting. Plus, Checkr offers 100+ ATS and HR integrations for a seamless hiring process for both employers and candidates alike. Get started with a North Carolina background check today.

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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.

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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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