The When, What, and Why of International Background Checks


International background checks require a skilled, knowledgeable team to execute reliable, compliant reports. Because the information gathered for these checks is provided by government agencies in foreign countries, a solid understanding of international compliance standards and data privacy law is essential to mitigate risk to your company. Due to the variance in laws, infrastructure, and reporting standards, international background checks may take a little more time, but are just as vital to the health and safety of your company.

When should I run an international background check?

  • When hiring someone who lived outside the US: this includes immigrants to the US, but also includes expats who lived, worked, or were educated outside the country for a period of time. Extra Credit: the process in Puerto Rico, Guam, and USVI also varies from a traditional domestic US search, so keep that in mind when hiring from one of these places.

  • When expanding your company internationally: If your company is going through a global expansion, it’s a good idea to run background checks on your new hires (and also, congratulations!).

  • When hiring remote workers located in another country: Remote workers can, by definition, work from anywhere, and some companies choose to hire remote work outside the US for a myriad of reasons. Even though your remote workers aren’t occupying the same physical space, they still have access to potentially sensitive materials, and so should undergo the screening process just like your domestic hires.

What’s in a typical international background check and why?

Criminal Record

A criminal record check includes reportable records in compliance with government and jurisdictional laws. Like the rest of these services, the report is dependent on the information available from each country and their international privacy laws.


The sanctions and watchlists checks thousands of watchlists, sanctions lists, financial debarment lists, and most wanted lists from available countries. This check enhances your criminal record check, keeping your company in compliance while also mitigating any risks to your brand by shielding against involvement with sanctioned entities. It is also the next best viable option when conducting checks in countries that can’t legally produce criminal records.

Education & Employment Verification

Education and employment verifications are crucial to mitigating fraud. Last year, “thousands of UK nationals have bought fake degrees from a multi-million pound diploma mill in Pakistan.” Among these were healthcare professionals practicing medicine. Resume fraud is a large, and growing concern for international hires.

Passport Validation

Passport and visa validations check the MRZ code for authenticity. The Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) contains up to three lines of code unique to the holder of the passport and contains their name, birthdate, document number, and any other relevant information.We utilize a digit algorithm based on the unique code in the Machine Readable Zone to verify the validity of a passport. This prevents identity fraud and verifies that the applicant is who they claim to be.

Credit Reports

Obtaining a credit report for international checks, like other services, is available on a country by country basis, based on the laws and restrictions regarding privacy and data. Additionally, each country has different reporting methods for credit and debt, and some currently lack the infrastructure to support a credit report. 

Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR)

A motor vehicle report may seem redundant if you’re already getting a criminal background check, but not all jurisdictions classify motor vehicle incidences as criminal. To gain a complete picture of your applicants’ history, an MVR is essential, so long as the country of residence keeps driving records and has accessible data.


References give additional insights into the integrity of your applicants. By gaining knowledge from their former leaders and peers, you’ll be better suited to make tough hiring decisions. When specific reports are unavailable due to a country’s laws and regulations, you still have the opportunity to gauge their work history and personality.


Our global screening team here at Critical Research is committed to offering reliable, transparent services whether your company is domestic or abroad. Our international services extend beyond these vital 6 for a more in-depth screening program. We work with you to keep you compliant on a global scale. For more information about our international services and compliance standards, please reach out to us.