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Frequently Asked Questions: State Criminal Background Check Map

What does this map contain?

This map provides links to official database repositories run by a state government agency (not third parties) that has a publicly available system for conducting statewide criminal background checks with absolutely no restrictions (i.e. anyone can request a search).

States that do not have a system for conducting a criminal background check, require permission from the person conducting a criminal background check or otherwise have restricted access, have been greyed out.

What is the difference between the colors of the states?

The dark colored states indicate that a criminal background check can be requested online. Results will be returned through the states official online criminal background check portal.

Lighter colored states provide criminal background checks to the public, however requests must be submitted in person or by mail (where indicated) and results will be delivered by mail.

White colored states do not have a system for conducting a statewide criminal background check, require permission from the person conducting a criminal background check or otherwise have restricted access.

How much does each state cost?

The price for a criminal background check varies from state to state. The costs range from $3 in Texas to $65 in New York. The cost for a criminal background check in each state is included in the map.

How far back do the searches go?

Each state varies. Some databases go back to the 1930’s while others did not start reliably collecting data until 1989. Check the map to see how far back the search goes in your state of interest.

If a person lived in multiple states, do I have to search each state individually?

Yes. Each database only provides access to criminal information in the state that you are searching.

Can I conduct a search in every state or a nationwide criminal background check?

No. Not reliably at least. Check out our post on Why a “Nationwide Criminal Background Check” is Complete BS! for additional information.

Why can’t I use one of those online background check services?

You can, but be aware that they are not always reliable.

Should I rely solely on the state criminal record check identified above?

No. There have been various reports that even official state repositories are not all that reliable.

How do I conduct a thorough criminal background check then?

You can check out our post on How to Conduct a Criminal Background Check Like an Expert or contact an expert.