Background Checks
Manage your employment screening program easily and more efficiently with GoodHire’s award-winning advanced platform.
Access our full library of content to learn about hiring trends, screening compliance, and how GoodHire works.

State LawsNorth Carolina

North Carolina Background Checks

A guide to North Carolina background checks

Pre-employment background checks are often a vital part of the hiring process. They can help North Carolina employers make more informed hiring decisions by confirming information about a candidate, such as their criminal record, employment history, driving record, and more. However, it’s essential that employers comply with federal, state, and local laws when conducting these screenings to mitigate the risk of costly violations.

Get A North Carolina Background Check Today

Get Started
GoodHire's background check platform makes it easy to order reports and review results.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what a North Carolina background check includes, how it’s conducted, and which federal, state, and local laws may apply.

What Is A North Carolina Background Check? 

A North Carolina background check searches public records, databases, and other sources to gather and verify information about a job candidate, volunteer, or contractor. They may help employers determine whether someone is qualified and eligible for a specific role. Depending on the scope, a background check may include a search of a candidate’s criminal record, employment history, educational background, driving records, credit history, and more. 

Employers may also use background checks to promote workplace and public safety and reduce organizational risk. Some employers may be required by federal, state, local, or industry regulations to conduct background checks on prospective employees. For example, in North Carolina, childcare workers must undergo a background check before their first day of employment and every five years after. NC employers that provide substance abuse, mental health, or disability services are also required to conduct pre-employment background checks on candidates.

What Shows Up On a North Carolina Background Check?

The information that appears on an employment background check in North Carolina varies based on the screenings you include. Here are some common checks that can help employers verify information about a candidate.

  • A North Carolina criminal background check to review a candidate’s criminal history, including misdemeanor and felony convictions, arrest records, and pending criminal charges.
  • Employment verification to confirm a candidate’s past employers, positions held, and employment dates. 
  • Education verification to confirm a candidate’s academic enrollment, dates of attendance, and degrees earned. 
  • MVR checks to confirm the status of a candidate’s license and determine whether they have moving violations, accidents, or DUIs on their record. 
  • Credit checks to review a candidate’s credit history, including accounts in collection and bankruptcies. 
  • Civil court records to search for a history of lawsuits, judgments, liens, and similar civil records.
  • Drug testing to screen a candidate for use of controlled substances, including prescription and illicit drugs.

Do Pending Charges Show on an NC Background Check?

Whether pending charges show on a background check in NC depends on what searches you conduct. Pending charges are included in a person’s criminal record. So, if an employer runs a criminal background check, pending charges could show up on that report.

How Long Does a Background Check Take in North Carolina?

Turnaround times for a North Carolina background check can vary from a few minutes to a few weeks, depending on the scope of the search, where the records are located, the type of records you’re searching, and whether you’re completing the work on your own or partnering with a background check provider, like GoodHire. Some records may be accessible online and easy to source within minutes, while other types of screenings (like drug tests) may require advance scheduling and in-person visits.

Having your hiring team conduct searches, contact past employers and educational institutions, and communicate with candidates can extend the turnaround time for a background check—especially when manual processes result in human error. 

Working with a consumer reporting agency (CRA) can help speed up the process. GoodHire’s advanced background check technology uses machine learning to retrieve and sort information into easy-to-understand, comprehensive reports rapidly. Automated workflows streamline the collection of information and can reduce manual labor for your team, helping you get more accurate reports and hire faster at any scale.

How to Get a Background Check in NC

Employers running North Carolina background checks may have their human resources team conduct searches or partner with a trusted CRA. If your HR team handles the background check process  in-house, you may need to order individual screenings from each relevant agency or provider, manage scheduling for in-person visits (such as drug tests) and manage follow-up communication.  

Employers can order some types of North Carolina background checks online. For example, you can access NC state court records at the clerk of court’s office in any county, but you won’t receive records from any other state. Qualified organizations can get a fingerprint-based criminal background check, which includes a national search of criminal records, from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI). Employers may order fingerprint-based criminal history records only if a federal, state, or local law authorizes it. 

Additionally, employers can request MVR records from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles online, by mail, or in person from the Vehicle Registration Office. However, you must obtain a written, notarized statement from the candidate whose record you are requesting that grants you permission to receive a copy.

To verify a candidate’s work history or educational background, you’ll need to contact each employer and educational institution separately.

Although you can conduct background checks yourself, it’s often a time-consuming process for your hiring team and may increase your risk of errors during reporting. That’s why many employers choose to partner with a CRA instead. A background check provider, like GoodHire, can help simplify the background check process by serving as a single point of contact for each background screening you need to conduct. Plus, GoodHire’s built-in compliance workflows make it easier for your team to mitigate risk and maintain legal compliance when conducting screenings—potentially lowering your chances of costly violations.

Get A North Carolina Background Check Today

Get Started
GoodHire's background check platform makes it easy to order reports and review results.

How Much Does an NC Background Check Cost?

The price of an NC state background check varies depending on the scope of the search, who’s conducting it, and the search volume. The processing fee for a fingerprint-based North Carolina criminal history report is $14 when you order it from the NCSBI, and a federal criminal record check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) costs $18. You can request a copy of a candidate’s certified driving record from the North Carolina DMV for $15.

However, partnering with a trusted CRA, like GoodHire, may be more cost-effective, with customizable packages available based on the type and volume of screenings you need. Plus, it’s easy to add GoodHire background checks with your existing tech stack using our 100+ ATS integrations, meaning less time spent juggling multiple applications and workstreams. Employers often find that partnering with a background check provider results in less manual work for their team and more accurate reporting—which translates to cost savings and a better background check ROI.

How Far Back Do Background Checks Go in North Carolina?

The lookback period for North Carolina background checks depends on the type of background check you conduct and whether you’re working with a background check service to complete checks.  

Employers that work with a CRA must comply with federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements. Under the FCRA, the reporting period for bankruptcies is 10 years. However, the reporting of other types of records, including civil suits, civil judgments, paid tax liens, collection accounts, and arrest records that did not result in a conviction, is limited to seven years. The seven-year lookback period may not apply to positions with a salary of more than $75,000 or more.

Some states limit the reporting of criminal records. However, there is no seven-year background check law in NC. Felony and misdemeanor convictions can be reported indefinitely in the state. There is also no limit on the lookback period for education and professional verifications.

North Carolina Background Check Laws

Employers need to comply with all North Carolina background check requirements, including the state’s Ban the Box law when applicable, and other federal, state, and local fair hiring laws. These laws are designed to help protect candidates from discrimination in the hiring process due to information found during criminal background checks. If you’re unsure which North Carolina employment background check laws to follow, employers may choose to comply with the strictest laws to avoid potential liability.

North Carolina Ban the Box Law

Executive Order 158, also known as North Carolina’s Ban the Box law, applies to criminal record checks of state employees under the governor’s authority. Under this directive, North Carolina government agencies may not ask questions related to a candidate’s criminal history on employment applications or before the first job interview is complete. They also may not consider expunged or pardoned convictions, charges or convictions unrelated to the position for which they’re hiring, dismissed or not-guilty charges, or arrests that did not result in a conviction. If an agency chooses not to make an employment offer based on someone’s criminal record, the conviction must be relevant to the job. 

If a candidate has a criminal record, government agencies must allow the candidate to explain the circumstances of the conviction and provide evidence of rehabilitation. North Carolina’s Ban the Box law isn’t mandated for all businesses, but the order encourages all public and private organizations to follow the same process. 

The executive order does not apply to positions for which a criminal conviction would prevent a candidate from being hired.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Any employer that works with a CRA must comply with FCRA requirements. This federal law requires employers to provide written disclosure of their intent to conduct a background check and obtain written consent from the candidate before beginning. Additionally, if an employer decides not to extend an offer of employment because of information that appeared in a pre-employment screening, they must give candidates a summary of their rights and follow the adverse action process.

County Resources

The following information about the availability of public records and local ban-the-box laws in four North Carolina counties may be helpful for employers conducting pre-employment screenings.

Cumberland County

Located in the Coast Plain region of North Carolina, Cumberland County has a population of 336,699 and is the fifth most populous county in the state. The Fort Bragg army base is located west of the county seat of Fayetteville. Cumberland County is home to multiple battlefields and other historic landmarks, including Fayetteville’s Museum of the Cape Fear, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, and the Fayetteville Museum of Art. The county produces various agricultural products, including corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, and tobacco.

Public Information & Records

A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.

Get A North Carolina Background Check Today

Get Started
GoodHire's background check platform makes it easy to order reports and review results.

Forsyth County

With a population of 267,237, Forsyth County is located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina and is named after state legislator Col. Benjamin Forsyth. The county is home to major corporations, including R.J. Reynolds and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, as well as several colleges and universities, including Salem College, Wake Forest University, and Winston-Salem State University. The county is known as a major North Carolina hub for the arts and cultural events.

Public Information & Records

A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.

Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County is home to Charlotte, the largest city in the state, with a population of 1,145,392. Located in the Piedmont region, Mecklenburg is known for its performing arts venues, art museums, and higher education. Additionally, it is the second largest financial centre in the United States, where companies such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Metlife have major hubs.

Public Information & Records

A Ban the Box law applies to positions within the county government.

Wake County

Wake County is comprised of a mix of urban and suburban communities with a population of 1,175,021. The state’s largest four-year college, North Carolina State University, is located in Wake County, along with many other public and private colleges and universities. The county is home to the 7-000-acre Research Triangle Park, which was initially established to revitalize a struggling economy. Today, the park is home to more than 60,000 employees from 375 companies representing multiple industries, including academia, non-profits, science and technology, and government.

Public Information & Records

A ban-the-box law applies to positions within the county government.

Get A North Carolina Background Check With GoodHire

A North Carolina background check can help employers maintain a safe working environment and minimize organizational risk. Partnering with a trusted background check provider, like GoodHire, helps streamline the process. Our easy-to-use platform saves you time with built-in, automated workflows that simplify employment background screenings and compliance from start to finish. Plus, our FCRA-trained support team is here to help you every step of the way. 

GoodHire offers customizable screening packages for North Carolina employers, allowing you to create customized background check packages for every role, at any scale. Get started today with fast, accurate background checks that provide results you can trust.

Get A North Carolina Background Check Today

Get Started
GoodHire's background check platform makes it easy to order reports and review results.

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.