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Florida Background Checks

A guide to Florida background checks

A pre-employment background screening is a valuable tool to help companies make smarter hiring choices. Conducting a background check can reveal important information about a job applicant, including their education, employment history, professional licenses, and more. Conducting criminal background checks helps to keep employees and customers safe and protect your company from legal liability.


This guide to background checks in Florida covers the various background checks employers can perform; what information a background check may uncover; and an introduction to the federal, state, county, and city laws employers must comply with when performing background screenings for employment.

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What Is A Florida Background Check?

Employers in Florida may perform a variety of background screenings depending on federal, state, and local laws and the positions for which they are hiring. These screenings may search federal, national, state, and county records, among other sources. Florida background checks for employment may include:

  • Employment verification to confirm a candidate is portraying their work history honestly.
  • Education verification to confirm schools attended and degrees obtained.
  • Drug screening to test for the presence of drugs. Florida employers who establish a drug-free workplace program following state guidelines can qualify for discounts on workers compensation insurance. 
  • Driving records checks to search state motor vehicle records (MVR) for information such as driver’s license status, license class, and moving violations. MVR checks are typically used for jobs involving operating a vehicle or equipment on behalf of the company.
  • Criminal background checks to search national, state, and/or local criminal records. 

Background checks for state agencies & regulated industries

There are two types of criminal background checks in Florida that only pertain to employers that are required by law to conduct screening of employees pursuant to FL Statute 435.02, such as employers in the childcare and healthcare industries. Pursuant to FL Statute 943.0542, these regulated industries must perform Level 1 and Level 2 checks directly through local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. 

Business entities outside of these regulated industries are not confined to Level 1 and Level 2 checks and can hire a third-party background check provider, such as GoodHire, to perform Florida background checks for employment purposes. Regulated employers that are required to run Level 1 and Level 2 checks may still wish to work with a third-party background check provider to supplement Level 1 and Level 2 checks, or to conduct preliminary searches prior to conducting a Level 1 or Level 2 check. 

Level 1 Background Check Florida

For state agencies and regulated industries, a Level 1 background check in Florida searches records based on the job candidate’s name only (versus fingerprints, which are used in a Level 2 check). A Level 1 check includes, but is not limited to:

  • Verification of employment history
  • A statewide criminal records check
  • A check of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website

Hiring agencies can also choose to conduct local criminal records checks through local law enforcement agencies. A Level 1 background check may reveal that a job applicant has a criminal record; however, it won’t include details about the offenses.  

Level 2 Background Check Florida

Also for state agencies and regulated industries, a Level 2 background check in Florida is a fingerprint-based check of state and national criminal records. These more thorough searches can uncover records that a name-based Level 1 background screening may not find. State records searches are conducted through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; national criminal records searches are conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

In some cases, Level 2 checks may also include local criminal records maintained by local law enforcement agencies. A Level 2 check will also show whether a candidate is a designated a sex offender either in Florida or in the national registry, so a separate check of the sex offender registry isn’t necessary.

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 GoodHire.

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How Far Back Does A Background Check Go In Florida?

Florida state law does not restrict how far back a background check can go. Most types of screenings, including criminal records checks, go back indefinitely. 

However, when conducting criminal background checks in Florida, employers should be aware that local ban-the-box laws may limit how and when criminal record information can be considered in the hiring process.

Florida background checks must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which prohibits consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) from reporting: 

  • Title 11 bankruptcies older than 10 years from the date of the report
  • Civil suits, civil judgments, and arrest records that are older than seven years from the date of the report
  • Paid tax liens that are older than seven years from the date of the report
  • Any collections older than seven years from the date of the report
  • Any adverse information (other than criminal convictions) older than seven years from the date of the report

When conducting a nationwide background screening, employers in Florida should be aware that some US states and jurisdictions restrict how far back a background screening can go. For instance, some states allow CRAs to report criminal records indefinitely, while others restrict them to seven years. 

Florida Background Check Laws

Unlike some states, state law does not limit employers’ ability to conduct criminal background checks in Florida. There are no statewide ban-the-box or fair hiring laws in Florida, although some counties and cities have their own ban-the-box and fair hiring laws.

In fact, Florida encourages employers to perform background checks by offering them protection against claims of negligent hiring for doing so. If an employer performs a background check in Florida that includes a criminal records check, finds no information disqualifying the candidate, and hires or promotes the person, state law presumes the company was not negligent in hiring.

Florida-Background-Checks

Florida has a statewide law requiring landlords to conduct a background check as a condition of employment. Senate Bill 898, called “Miya’s Law,” requires the screening to be conducted through a CRA and include criminal history and a sex offender registry search of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The applicant may be disqualified if found guilty of certain offenses involving violence and disregard for safety.

Compliance with the FCRA

All Florida employers must comply with the FCRA, the federal law regulating background checks. 

The FCRA requires employers to give candidates written notice that they plan to conduct a background check and inform them that the results may be used in making hiring decisions. They must also receive the candidate’s signed acknowledgement of and permission for the background check. 

After the background check, but before making a hiring decision, employers must inform candidates of their FCRA rights and give them a chance to review their background check reports. 

Employers that decide not to hire or promote a candidate must give them written notice of the decision (called a pre-adverse action notification) and offer the opportunity to contest or explain information in the report before making a final decision. If the final decision is still negative, the employer must send the candidate a final adverse action notice.  

Keep in mind that local ban-the-box laws at the county and city level may be stricter than these FCRA requirements. When in doubt, following the strictest applicable law will help ensure your background checks are compliant. 

County Resources 

Alachua County

Like most of Florida, this county in the north-central part of the state is known for its natural attractions. Alachua County has 278,468 residents in 875 square miles. Gainesville, its biggest city, is home to the University of Florida, a major employer in the area. 

Public Information & Records: 

The city of Gainesville has a ban-the-box law. Learn more

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Brevard County

This coastal county of 606,612 people borders the Atlantic. Its 1,015 square miles are home to plenty of sunny beaches and the famous Cape Canaveral. Palm Bay, Melbourne, and Titusville are Brevard County’s biggest cities; healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing are key industries. 

Public Information & Records: 

Broward County

With 1.94 million people in 1,209 square miles, Broward County is the second-most populous county in Florida and the 17th most populous in the US. This ethnically diverse region is a top destination for travelers from around the world. Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, and Hollywood are its biggest cities. 

Public Information & Records: 

Broward County has a ban-the-box law, as do two cities within the county: Pompano Beach and Tamarac. Learn more.

Duval County

Although much of this 762-square-mile county is inland, Duval County still boasts 20 miles of beaches and nearly 40 miles of intracoastal waterway canals. Its government is consolidated with the City of Jacksonville, the county’s biggest city and home to more than 856,000 of the county’s 995,567 residents. 

Public Information & Records: 

Jacksonville has a ban-the-box law. Learn more

Hillsborough County

With a population of 1.45 million in 1,020 square miles, this Western Central Florida county features 158 miles of shoreline on Tampa Bay. Tampa is its biggest city, followed by Brandon and Riverview. 

Public Information & Records: 

The city of Tampa has a ban-the-box law. Learn more

Lee County

Lee County is famous for its beaches, fishing, boating, and golf. Located on the Gulf Coast, it has 760,822 residents in 784 square miles. The biggest cities are Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, and Fort Myers.

Public Information & Records: 

There is a ban-the-box law in Fort Myers. Learn more.

Leon County

This 667-square-mile county is in the Florida Panhandle. Most of Leon County’s 292,198 residents are concentrated in Tallahassee, which is divided into Tallahassee Central, Northwest, Northeast, South, East, and Southwest. Tallahassee is also the state capital and home to Florida State University and Florida A&M University; the state government and the universities are major employers.

Public Information & Records: 

The city of Tallahassee has a ban-the-box law. Learn more.

Miami-Dade County

On the east side of Florida’s southernmost tip, Miami-Dade County has 2.7 million residents, making it Florida’s most populous county and the seventh-most populous county in the US. Its 1,897 square miles include urban areas like Miami Beach, agricultural communities, and many global corporate headquarters. Miami and Hialeah are the largest cities.

Public Information & Records: 

Miami-Dade County has a ban-the-box law. Learn more.

Orange County

Orange County is part of the Orlando metro area, home to Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, and SeaWorld, among other popular vacation destinations. It covers 903 square miles and has 1.4 million residents; Orlando and Alafaya are the biggest cities. 

Public Information & Records: 

The city of Orlando has a ban-the-box law. Learn more.

Palm Beach County

Part of the Miami metro area, Palm Beach County has 1.4 million residents in 1,969 square miles. West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach are the biggest cities in this county, which boasts 47 miles of Atlantic coastline, is home to more billionaires than any other Florida city, and is known as “The Golf Capital of Florida.” 

Public Information & Records:

Pasco County

Many of this bedroom community’s 561,891 residents work in Tampa. Known as the nudist capital of the US, Pasco County covers 746 square miles. Wesley Chapel, Land ’O Lakes, and Bayonet Point are its largest cities. 

Public Information & Records: 

Pinellas County

Surrounded by water on three sides, Pinellas County is a 273-square-mile peninsula bounded by the Gulf of Mexico on the west and by Tampa Bay on the south and east. Its beaches and sand dunes are major tourist attractions; it’s also a popular retirement spot. The population is 959,107; Saint Petersburg, Clearwater, and Largo are the biggest cities.

Public Information & Records:

Two Pinellas County cities, Clearwater and St. Petersburg, have ban-the-box laws. Learn more.

Polk County

Spanning 1,797 square miles, Polk County benefits from its central location between the Tampa and Orlando metro areas. Retail and healthcare are major industries for its 725,046 people. Lakeland, Poinciana, and Winter Haven are the biggest cities. 

Public Information & Records: 

Sarasota County

White sand beaches attract tourists and residents alike to this Gulf Coast county, whose biggest cities are North Port and Sarasota. Sarasota County has 434,006 residents in 555 square miles. 

Public Information & Records: 

The city of Sarasota has a ban-the-box law. Learn more.

Seminole County

Seminole County is centrally located, and its 309 square miles are close to airports, ports, and colleges. Sanford, Altamonte Springs, and Oviedo are the biggest cities in the county, which has 470,856 residents.

Public Information & Records: 

Volusia County

Manufacturing is a major industry in this growing region, which boasts both beachside and inland attractions. Its 1,101 square miles are home to the Daytona International Speedway. Deltona, Daytona Beach, and Port Orange are the biggest cities in this county of 553,543 people.  

Public Information & Records: 

The city of Daytona Beach has a ban-the-box law. Learn more.

Get A Florida Background Check With GoodHire

Florida imposes fewer regulations on employer background screenings than many other states. However, because conducting a background check in Florida may help protect an employer from charges of negligent hiring, it is a valuable step in the hiring process. Florida employers must comply with the FCRA, and ban-the-box laws in some Florida cities and counties pose additional complications. 

Employers can gain peace of mind by hiring a third-party background check provider, such as GoodHire, to perform their Florida background checks. GoodHire offers a wide range of FCRA-compliant background check services, providing the information you need to make smart hiring decisions. Our fast, accurate background screenings feature built-in compliance tools to automate background check review workflows and guide you through the adverse action process step-by-step. If you need more help, GoodHire’s in-house background check experts are here to answer your questions.  

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Disclaimer

The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.