Guide to Utah State Background Checks

Sarah Archambault
January 25, 2024
6 min read

Utah background checks help employers evaluate a candidate’s eligibility for a job, reduce legal liability, and create safer workplaces. Organizations can use pre-employment background screenings to learn more about an individual’s history, including criminal records, driving history, past employment, and education. 

This guide reviews what Utah hiring managers need to know about background checks, including what shows up, how to conduct screenings yourself or partner with a background check provider, and what federal, state, and local hiring regulations may apply. 

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What is a Utah background check?

Employers in Utah use background checks to establish employment eligibility by searching different types of public records and databases. Background checks can provide information about an individual that goes beyond a resume or job application, including driving history, criminal records, education, work history, credit history, and more.

Hiring managers typically use background checks to determine if a candidate or volunteer is qualified for a role, while also helping to mitigate risk. Certain types of jobs, like commercial drivers, may legally require employers to conduct pre-employment background checks. Utah employers can choose to perform background checks on their own or partner with a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr.

What shows up on a Utah background check?

Utah background checks can provide various types of information about a candidate, including criminal records, education credentials, previous employment, driving history, or drug screening results. 

Here are some of the common types of background checks and what typically shows up:

    • Criminal background checks in Utah review a person’s criminal history and can show records of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations, along with both current and past arrest warrants at the county, state, and federal level. 

    • Driving record checks screen a candidate’s driving record, including their citations, suspensions, revocations, and motor vehicle-related offenses, like DUIs.

    • Credit background checks search a candidate’s credit history and show financial information like payment history, accounts in collections, and bankruptcies. This type of check is often used for jobs that require financial responsibility.

    • Civil court searches look into a person’s civil court records and can show several types of non-criminal information, such as restraining orders, lawsuits, liens, and judgments.

    • Employment verification shows information about a candidate’s professional background, including previous employers, positions held, and employment dates. 

    • Education verification validates an individual’s academic history and can show schools attended, degrees earned, and graduation dates. 

    • Drug testing screens a candidate for illicit substances and commonly abused prescription medications.

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Utah background check laws

Employers are required to comply with several Utah employment background check laws, including a statewide Ban the Box law, to avoid legal liability. To minimize potential risks, employers may choose to consult legal counsel and comply with the strictest federal, state, and local regulations. 

Utah Ban the Box law

Summary: Utah House Bill 156 applies to all public sector employers. Under this law, Utah employers are prohibited from asking questions about a job candidate’s criminal history until after the person has been interviewed (with some exceptions). If interviews aren’t part of the hiring process, employers must wait to inquire about a person’s criminal history until a conditional employment offer is extended. See law.

Utah Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Act

Summary: This state act, also known as Utah Code § 53-10-101 to § 53-10-606, restricts who has access to Utah state criminal records. Under this law, most private employers are not permitted to request state criminal information directly. However, they are allowed to ask individuals to request copies of their own criminal records and sign a waiver that authorizes the state to send the report to the employer or a third party, like a background check service. This law does not prohibit private employers from performing FBI background checks. See law.

Utah Clean Slate Law

Summary: Under this state law, certain types of charges (i.e. misdemeanors) are automatically expunged from an individual’s criminal history and court records after five to seven years. Convictions not eligible for automatic expungement include some weapons-related offenses, simple assault, DUIs, domestic violence-related offenses, and registerable sex offenses. Expunged information doesn’t show up on background checks, and candidates are not required to disclose any information about convictions removed from criminal records. See law.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Summary: Under this federal law, Utah employers who partner with a CRA to perform background checks are required to comply with certain federal regulations. During the background screening process, employers must provide a candidate with written notice of the intent to perform a background check and receive written consent back from the individual. Should information be returned during the background screening that causes an employer to decide not to hire the candidate, the adverse action process should be followed. See law.

Local Utah fair hiring laws 

In Utah there are no local fair chance hiring laws that apply to private sector employers. Instead, all public sector employers in Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, and Washington counties are required to follow Utah House Bill 156, which doesn’t allow inquiries into an individual’s conviction history before an interview or a conditional job offer, for roles that don’t require interviews. 

How long does an employment background check take in Utah?

Utah background check turnaround times range from just a few minutes to several weeks, depending on who is performing the search, the types of records requested, and the scope of the check. For example, certified Utah driving records can take two or more weeks to process when ordered by mail.

When employers perform an employment background check in Utah themselves, it can be time-consuming. Often hiring managers need to manually request information about a candidate from lots of different public record sources, like court records and motor vehicle records. Other types of reports may require non-public record searches, like calling professional references or confirming past employers or schooling.  

Partnering with a background check provider, like Checkr, can streamline the process and give you more accurate reports, plus time back for your staff to focus on other initiatives. Checkr’s advanced technology gathers and sorts data from thousands of databases and record sources—returning 84% of reports in under 15 minutes. Checkr’s candidate portal also offers real-time transparency into each report’s status, for both candidates and hiring managers, making it easy to track your background checks every step of the way.

How to get a Utah background check

Hiring managers can conduct a background check in Utah on their own or work with a background check partner, like Checkr. However, state of Utah criminal background checks may only be ordered by certain types of employers. For comprehensive background checks, employers typically order and review records from many different sources—including courthouses, law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, and previous employers. 

Often records can be requested in person, over the phone, by mail, or online. For example, individuals can request a copy of their own criminal record through the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) website. Employers, on the other hand, can request criminal records through Utah’s Courts Information System (CORIS), but must first register for an Xchange account in order to access records and must follow legal protocols regarding individual waivers. Motor vehicle records are available from the Utah Department of Public Safety, but requestors must first register for a account. 

Conducting background checks in-house can be time-consuming, cost employers valuable staff time, and make organizations vulnerable to a higher level of risk due to human error. Working with a modern background check provider, like Checkr, typically results in a more efficient background check process, comprehensive reporting, and more accurate records. Employers benefit from Checkr’s ability to perform multiple types of background checks at any scale and simplified compliance workflows that make it easier to manage compliance with federal, state, and local laws. 

How far back does a background check go in Utah?

Utah pre-employment background check lookback periods depend on the type of background screening and who is conducting the check. For example, Utah law limits information on motor vehicle records to three years, with the exception of DUIs, which remain on a person’s record for ten years. There are also no legal restrictions on how far back an employer can go when verifying a candidate’s education or history and professional licenses.

Employers that choose to work with a background check partner, like Checkr, are also required to comply with the federal FCRA's allowable reporting periods. Under this act, bankruptcies have a ten year lookback period, but other civil matters can only go back seven years. This includes paid tax liens, civil lawsuits, and accounts in collections. Criminal conviction reporting is not limited under the FCRA. But—the Utah Clean Slate Law mandates automatic expungement of some types of misdemeanor convictions after a predetermined waiting period. 

Roles with an expected salary of $75,000 or more may not be subject to FCRA lookback restrictions. FCRA reports limits may also not apply to employers performing background checks in-house, but should consult with their legal counsel to understand what rules and regulations might apply. 

How much does a Utah state background check cost?

How much a background check costs in Utah depends on the type of reports ordered and who is conducting the background check. If employers are managing the process on their own, individual criminal records typically cost $15. Employers must pay a starting fee of $5 to search records online, but can also pay $40 a month for up to 500 searches, plus a one time $25 setup fee. Certified Utah driving records usually cost $25.25.

When considering the cost of a background check if your hiring team is handling background checks in-house, it’s important to consider the amount you’ll need to pay to have staff source, review, and follow up on reports. Plus, your organization may have higher operating costs and a lower ROI as a result of time spent on manually ordering reports, while still juggling other HR responsibilities.

Utah employers who work with a trusted background check provider can benefit from a more efficient process, pricing packages that include multiple screening types streamlined into one workflow, and lower overhead. With a CRA, like Checkr, background screening packages can be customized based on reports needed, number of background checks, and screening frequency.

Get a Utah background check from Checkr

Utah employers that work with Checkr to conduct background checks experience faster turnaround times, more comprehensive, accurate reporting, and a better candidate experience. Checkr provides hiring managers with compliance tools for added peace of mind, along with a modern background platform, user-friendly dashboards, multiple screening options, and seamless integration with 100+ ATS and HRIS platforms. Get started with Checkr today.

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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

Sarah writes about small business topics and corporate communications. She has written on a wide range of topics, including background checks, hiring trends, company culture, and employee training and development. Her work includes educational articles, press releases, newsletters, and employee onboarding collateral. 

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