How to run an international background check

Find out the best way to run a global background check.

Woman on phone carrying out a background check.

In this day and age, it’s more common than ever to conduct a global search for top talent. This approach allows you to bring the best employees into your company, regardless of location. 

If you plan on hiring someone who is based outside of the United States, there’s an important question to answer: what’s the best way to run an international background check?

Remember this: just because someone is working remotely doesn’t mean you should forgo a background check. This is still an important part of the hiring process.

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How to do a background check

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to start the international background check process as soon as possible. It’s common to run into delays, so the sooner you begin the better chance you have of hiring and onboarding the right person in a timely manner. 

Here are the steps you can take to conduct an international background check:

1. Decide what type of background check you need

This depends largely on your company’s background screening policy and the position you’re hiring for. Here are some of the many types of checks you may want to run:

  • Citizenship or visa
  • Education credentials
  • Employment history
  • Credit history
  • Criminal record
  • Medical records
  • Social media activity
  • Driving record

Sometimes, you may need to order all of these checks. Other times, this may not be necessary. For example, if you’re not hiring someone for a driving position, you can probably forgo the driving record check. 

2. Learn more about the laws in the applicable country

This is the most complicated part of the process, as laws vary from one country to the next. The process you use in the United States won’t do much for you in another country. On the plus side, the more global talent you hire the more familiar you’ll become with different background screening laws.

If you’re hiring in Mexico, you’re required to conduct a background check through a private investigator. If you’re hiring in France, you can only order checks relevant to the job position. 

Before you do anything, learn more about the laws in the country your candidates reside in. This protects you against a costly mistake. 

3. Obtain authorization 

This isn’t optional. You must obtain authorization from every candidate before ordering a background check. This holds true in the United States and every other country across the globe. You want to keep the same basic process for every candidate you’re hiring so as to not show bias.

The best way to approach this is by asking candidates to authorize a background check during the initial steps of the application process. This way, you have what you need if the time comes to order a background check.

Note: candidates in some parts of the world may be skeptical about authorizing a background check. Provide the necessary information upfront to make them as comfortable as possible. 

4. Order your search

This is the final step in running an international background check. Once again, your path forward depends on the country in which you’re hiring. 

As noted above, if you’re conducting a search in Mexico, you won’t consult with a background screening company. Instead, you’ll hire a private investigator. 

There’s no shortage of global background check providers, so compare a handful to learn more about what they offer. Ask questions such as:

  • What countries have you conducted background searches in for other employers?
  • Can you explain the laws and regulations by country?
  • What information do you need to conduct a global background check?
  • What is the cost of an international background check? Does it vary by country?
  • How long does it take to receive the results of an international background check?

The answers to these questions will help you decide which provider is right for your company and its hiring needs. 


By taking these steps, you’ll find yourself on the right path to collecting background information on every candidate regardless of location. From there, you’re equipped with the data you need to make an informed and confident hiring decision.

At Oyster, our global hiring tools give you the power to control the hiring process from start to finish. To get started, sign up for an account or visit our help center. Either way, we’ll put you on the right path to hiring “A-players” from around the globe. 

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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