Firstly, What Is a Background Check?

The name gives much of it away… A background check is, put simply, a check on a person’s background. Though that doesn’t really tell you enough, does it?

Background checks

To add a little more dimension, a background check is a process of researching and investigating a person’s history to gather information on their past. Most often used by employers, it’s a method that allows them to quickly verify that the applicant is in fact qualified and who they say they are.

From criminal records to educational history, a background check will investigate a variety of elements within a person’s life. However, what areas are chosen for investigation will typically be restricted to the requirements of the report/concerns of who issued the background check.

Who Orders Background Checks?

In New Zealand, background checks are predominantly ordered for employment purposes. That’s not to say you won’t see a landlord order an assessment on potential tenants or a criminal record check be ordered for a court case. But generally speaking, a background check will be ordered by either an employer, job seeker, or employee. Here’s the rundown.


Where the need for background checks lies is typically in the industries of finance, education, transportation, and healthcare. Here, it’s important that employers check the history of an applicant for the sake of company safety, security, and compliance.

A common assumption is that large organisations are the main users of background checks. This is not the case. Small businesses need the service just as much - and for good reason…

When there is less affordability for staff, employees of small businesses tend to take on more responsibility. With this increased power, it’s vital that the workers can be trusted. Hence why implementing background checks is often made a requirement in the hiring process of small to medium businesses.


Already having a job does not make you exempt from needing a background check - especially if you work in an industry known for requiring background checks.

For some companies, their business compliance will demand routine checks. These could be annual, every few years, or once a decade. In cases like these, you might be asked to get a background check on yourself in order to comply with industry regulations.

But on the other hand, it might be the opportunity of a promotion that requires you to get a background check. Since promotions often see increased responsibility, the qualification and history requirements of the role can also become more strict. 

Job Seekers

When looking for jobs you might find that a company asks you to provide a background check during the process of your application. In this case, you would have to order a background check on yourself. 

Yes, this extra cost/admin can feel annoying to deal with when applying for jobs. But, if you’re smart, the requirement can be used to your advantage...

If you’re applying within an industry you suspect would be interested in your background, it doesn’t hurt to provide an official background check upon initial application. In fact, this will show employers that you care about the role and put you a step ahead of those who’ve applied without.

What Will a Background Check Search For?

A background check will investigate a candidate’s background only within the areas required. For example, the role of a police officer would require a clean criminal history. 

Note: If you’ve been requested to get a background check, make sure to get clarification on what specific areas require searching. This information will later be detailed in an Informed Consent by the company servicing your background check which you will need to sign before proceeding.

Areas for possible search:

  • Criminal records
  • Credit history
  • Employment history
  • Education history (high school, university, etc.)
  • Social media profiles
  • Driving record
  • Medical records (restrictions apply)

How Long Does The Process Take?

Length of the wait time is highly dependent on what searches have been ordered. With this in mind, the average wait you can expect for a background check in New Zealand is anywhere between 3-15 days.

Want a more descriptive picture? Take a look at our wait times at Staff Checks. But do note, our average turnaround is among the fastest pre-employment screening services in New Zealand.

Search Type (working days)

Credit or Driver Licence Status (same day)

Traffic or ACC (3-5 days)

MOJ Criminal Gold (3 days)

MOJ Criminal Silver (10 days)

MOJ Criminal Bronze (15 days)

References Check (1-10 days)

Social Media Check (1-5 days)

AML/PEP (anti-money laundering) (same day)

Membership/Qualifications Check (1-10 days)

For How Long Are Background Checks Valid in NZ?

In New Zealand, background checks have no period of validity. How long they are considered “good for” is rather up to the employers or person/company that requested the check.

This means that any information already verified will remain valid - but only up until the date the check was made. Beyond the date of servicing, nothing is verified and a new background check will be required as necessary. 

Generally speaking, criminal record checks that are over three months old will not be accepted. 

Need a Background Check? We Can Help

Staff Checks is an independent company wholly dedicated to background checks and helping businesses enhance their workforce integrity. 

We are currently fully operational and proudly continuing to provide a quick and efficient turnaround of pre-employment screening to all businesses who need the support and expert assistance in these difficult times. 

To hear more about our background check services and discuss how we can assist your hiring process needs, get in touch with our friendly team today.

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