Rhode Island Background Check

Background Check

Are you interested in getting a background check done in Rhode Island? Don’t do it until you’ve read this guide! Here, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to get an RI background check.

Background Check Laws In Rhode Island

Before you pursue a background check in Rhode Island, there are two laws that you must be aware of. They are:

  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
  • ‘Ban-The-Box’ and Fair Hiring Laws
  • Local Laws (RI Stat. Sec. 6-13.1-21)

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Plenty of companies seek to perform background checks on job candidates. To ensure that both parties’ rights are protected, the federal government has put together the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA.

Simply put, the FCRA is a way for the federal government to monitor how companies gather background check information on candidates and use them as part of the hiring process.

Failure for the company to stay compliant with the FCRA could result in hefty fines or other punishments.

‘Ban-The-Box’ and Fair Hiring Laws

Another common term that you may see when it comes to background checks in Rhode Island is ‘Ban-The-Box’ laws. These are essentially laws that govern when and how a company can ask a job candidate if they have a criminal history.

In Rhode Island, the law states that companies can only inquire about a job candidate’s criminal history during their first interview or later. Recruiters are not allowed to make that inquiry before that point.

Failure for the company to do so could be a violation of that law, which could result in hefty fines or other punishments.

That law applies to all public sector employers and private sector companies with four or more employees.

Local Laws (RI Stat. Sec. 6-13.1-21)

This local law is crucial when it comes to background checks in Rhode Island. It states that anyone performing a background check for employment purposes must inform the candidates that they are doing so.

Furthermore, if the company was to reject the job candidate based on that background check, the law requires them to provide the name and address of the company that provided that information.

Laws like these are crucial to protect job candidates in situations involving background checks. Should those background check service providers provide any inaccurate information, the individual will know which company to take action against.

What Shows Up On A Background Check In Rhode Island?

Unlike what some people may believe, background checks in Rhode Island aren’t all the same. You see, a background check can be very simple and straightforward, or it can be incredibly detailed, covering almost every aspect of the person’s history.

The difference is determined by the party requesting the background check. Different parties will seek different types of information for their own unique purposes.

For example, an employer located in Rhode Island may request a background check on a job candidate for employment purposes. In those cases, the kind of things that might show up on a background check include:

  • Verification of the candidate’s identity, birth date, and Social Security Number.
  • Confirmation that the candidate has the academic qualifications they claim to have.
  • Verification of their work experience and professional history.
  • Criminal records (if any).

While those might be the basic criteria that most employers request for a background check in Rhode Island, some may request more in-depth information. For instance, employers may request that the background check include information such as:

  • Motor vehicle licenses and traffic offenses (e.g. if they’re hiring someone to drive a company vehicle).
  • Sex offender registry information, if any (e.g. if they’re hiring someone to provide care to vulnerable groups like children).
  • Professional licenses information (e.g. if they’re hiring people that must be licensed for the job, such as medical professionals).
  • Credit history information (e.g. if they’re hiring someone who will be managing the company’s finances).

As you can see, the items that show up on a background check depend largely on the information that is needed on a case-by-case basis. Generally, the more information that’s requested for a background check, the more time, resources, and money it’ll take to prepare that report.

How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In Rhode Island?

Typically, criminal background checks in Rhode Island go as far back as seven years.
To understand how far back background checks go in Rhode Island, it’s important to understand that not all information is the same. Some information is regulated by law and has a limited timeframe. Others are unregulated and can appear on a background check no matter how long it’s been.

For example, in most cases, criminal records can only be reported in a background check for as long as seven years. Beyond that, the information on any convictions shouldn’t appear on a background check report anymore.

You may find that other states following the FCRA law might have a different time limit on the same information. That’s because even though they follow the FCRA, they may have made minor adjustments at the state level. Some states only go as far back as five years, while others are known as ‘ten-states’ as well.

Rhode Island remains at seven years following the FCRA.


There are some exceptions to that 7-year rule, however. For example, if the job in question pays more than $75,000 per year, any previous arrests can be included in the background check report no matter when it took place.

Besides that, certain public sector or government jobs may not be restricted to that 7-year rule when performing background checks on job candidates.

Background Check Information With No Time Limits

It’s important to note that not all background check information comes with a legal time limit. Remember: there are all sorts of information that may appear on a background check report besides just a criminal history.

For example, a person’s educational history or work history can appear on a background check report, no matter how long ago it took place. That’s because the law does not regulate this type of information on a background check.

How Long Does A Background Check Take In Rhode Island?

The total time it’ll take to do a background check in Rhode Island depends on the type and quantity of information that you’re requesting. For example, a criminal background check will usually take seven business days to provide you with criminal history records (if any). However, other information will have different time frames.

As a general rule of thumb, always remember the more information you request to be included in a background check, the longer it’ll take to prepare.

Still, there are several reasons why a background check in Rhode Island might get delayed.

Reasons That A Rhode Island Background Check Might Get Delayed

Background checks in Rhode Island tend to get delayed for a number of reasons, most of which are entirely out of your control. They include:

  • Incorrect information on the subject – A wrong name, date of birth, or social security number could delay the entire background check process.
  • Confusion or records mix-ups – Sometimes, two people may have similar names. That might cause confusion which takes a bit of time to clear up.
  • Geographical issues – Some background checks require submitting requests between districts, states, or even countries. As a result, the process of obtaining that information could take longer than expected.
  • Uncooperative sources – Despite submitting information requests correctly, the source of that information may not be so cooperative. For example, a university may be slow to verify a job candidate’s academic credentials, thereby delaying the background check process.

How To Speed Up A Background Check

While the causes of delays may be out of your control, there are some ways that you can speed up the background check process. They include:

  • Ensure that all identifying information is correct – Names (and their spelling), dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, and any other identifying information should be accurate when requesting a background check.
  • Minimize the background check criteria – It may be tempting to request an in-depth background check that goes well beyond what’s necessary. But remember the more information you’re requesting, the longer the background check will take.
  • Hire a third-party service provider – Companies that specialize in performing background checks will have dedicated teams of staff members, all of whom probably know the best and quickest ways to gather information. They’ll be able to give you a quicker turnaround on the background check, rather than doing it by yourself.

How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Gun In Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, the background check for a gun will happen during the seven-day waiting period after purchasing a gun.

However, anyone who wants to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon must wait for up to 90 days, during which a background check will take place.

The gun background check process in Rhode Island is somewhat unique in that it happens at both the state and federal levels. This is not something that’s common in other states across the US.

What types of people might get disqualified by a background check for a gun in Rhode Island? Well, they include:

  • Illegal aliens.
  • People who are being treated or confined for mental incompetence.
  • Drug addicts.
  • Those with a history of drunken behavior.
  • Those with convictions for violent crimes.
  • Fugitives.
  • And minors below the age of 18.

How To Get A Background Check In Rhode Island

To put it simply, there are two ways you can get a background check in Rhode Island: you can do it yourself (the direct approach) or hire professionals to do it for you (the third-party approach).

The Direct Approach

Thanks to the laws all across the United States and even Rhode Island, citizens are allowed to request access to public records. However, there’s still a process that must be followed in order to do so. Typically, that means filling up a form and submitting a request to the relevant government bodies like law enforcement agencies and courthouses.

For example, getting a criminal background check in Rhode Island involves submitting a request to the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) with a small payment of $5.

Besides that, other information can also be obtained by liaising with the relevant organizations. For example, a company that wishes to verify a candidate’s professional license or university degree can contact the awarding organization and perform the check manually.

Pros and cons of the direct approach: This approach is ideal if there is only a limited amount of information necessary for the background search. Submitting the request directly will reduce costs and may even take less time in some situations.

However, for instances where lots of information is required, or if there is a need to perform several background checks at once, it may be a better idea to outsource it to a third party instead.

For instance, some Rhode Island companies may need to do background checks on plenty of job candidates all the time. In that type of scenario, performing a background check by themselves might not be an ideal use of company resources.

The Third-Party Approach

These days, there are plenty of third-party companies that provide background check services. They go by many names, depending on the type of client who wishes to use their services. For example, there are employment screening companies, credit reporting agencies, and even detective agencies that all provide background check services.

Here’s how it works.

The client (i.e. an individual or a Rhode Island company that’s interviewing job candidates) will provide the third-party service provider with the subject’s details, like their name and Social Security Number. Then, they’ll specify the criteria for the check, meaning what information they’d like to include in the background check.

Then, the third-party will gather the information from various sources and compile it into a report that’s easy for the client to read and understand.

Pros and cons of the third-party approach: As you might imagine, hiring a third-party does include an additional cost. However, that cost means that you’ll be able to get your background check completed without any fuss!

How To Get A Criminal Background Check In Rhode Island

To get a criminal background check in Rhode Island, you’ll have to submit a request to the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). That includes getting the subject to fill, sign, and notarize a release form that gives the BCI permission to provide you with the criminal background information.

The process includes a $5 payment as a check payable to “BCI”.

In total, the process should take about seven business days.

What Do Job Background Checks Cover in Rhode Island?

A job background check can be very different from one employer to another. That’s because each employer will have slightly different criteria for the check, especially when it comes to certain specialized job positions.

Still, a typical Rhode Island job background check usually includes:

  • Verification of the person’s identity.
  • Confirmation of the person’s academic credentials.
  • Information on the person’s professional experience and work history.
  • Any criminal records that might disqualify the person.

Some job background checks may also go into greater detail, including specialized information that’s relevant to the job, such as:

  • Motor vehicle licenses, for jobs that involve driving company vehicles.
  • Professional licenses, for specialist jobs like those in the medical field.
  • Sex offender registry, for jobs that involve working with children.

Always remember that both the employer and the job candidate have rights when it comes to job background checks in Rhode Island. Federal and state rules and regulations govern how information can be collected, presented, and used when it comes to background checks.

In doing so, the rights of the employer, as well as the privacy of the job candidate, are both protected at all times.

Can I Get A Free Background Check In Rhode Island?

No, you cannot get a free background check in Rhode Island. Some websites may claim to provide that service for free, but that’s typically a marketing ploy to lure you into paying for their services.

Any background check in any state across the US requires paying a fee. That includes direct requests for public records, and especially if you decide to hire a third-party service provider to perform the background check on your behalf.

Still, there are some ways you can minimize how much you spend on a background check in Rhode Island. For instance:

  • You could minimize the amount of information you’re including in the background check. It’s tempting to go as detailed as possible, but the more information you request, the more you’ll end up paying.
  • Some companies will continuously need to perform background checks on job candidates. In those situations, it may be wise to look for subscription-based services or software that allows for performing unlimited background checks for a small fee.
  • In some cases, it may be better to avoid hiring a third-party and, instead, doing the background check yourself. You could minimize your spending by submitting requests to the relevant government offices directly.