South Carolina Background Check

Background Check

Do you need a background check in South Carolina but aren’t sure where to start? Our detailed guide will provide you with all of the information you need to know when it comes to getting a South Carolina background check. We also include information regarding vital records, driving records, and more. Check it out!

Background Check Laws in South Carolina

According to South Carolina law, individuals have the right to inspect or copy public records and receive an electronic copy of the record, unless exempt by law.

Currently, no statewide ban-the-box laws in South Carolina are in place.

What are ban-the-box laws?

Ban-the-box laws prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history when they initially apply. Some states also prohibit employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history until after initial interviews are complete or a conditional offer has been delivered.

While there are no statewide ban-the-box laws in South Carolina, several counties and cities have passed versions of the law.

South Carolina Ban-the-Box Laws by City and County

  • Aiken, SC: City government jobs are subject to ban-the-box laws.
    • Timing of inquiry: On an initial employment application, an employer is prohibited from asking about or looking in a job applicant’s criminal history.
    • No adverse action implication
  • City of Columbia, SC: The City of Columbia as a municipal corporation is subject to ban-the-box laws.
    • Timing of inquiry:
      • Before the City can conduct a background check, they must ensure that a background check is warranted, which is based on the position’s sensitivity. The City can also conduct a background check if it is required by law.
      • The City can only inquire about an applicant’s criminal history after the applicant has been notified of the ban-the-box ordinance, a request for authorization to perform a background check has been delivered to the candidate, and a conditional offer letter has been received by the job applicant.
      • The City is prohibited from asking about an applicant’s conviction history on a job application.
    • Record limitations: The City cannot ask or consider any records of arrest that did not result in a conviction. The City is not allowed to use dismissed, sealed, or expunged convictions, infractions, and misdemeanor convictions with no jail time.
    • Adverse action implications: The City is only allowed to look at and base decisions on job-related convictions. If a conviction automatically, by law, leads to the barring of a candidate, then the City can consider that.
    • The City is required to do the following before taking adverse action due to a job applicant’s criminal history:
      • Note the conviction(s)
      • Provide a copy of the background check
      • Give examples of rehabilitation or mitigation evidence a job applicant could submit voluntarily
      • Offer the applicant an individualized assessment
      • Once a pre-adverse action notice is delivered, the applicant has 10 business days to respond.
      • The City is required to keep the position open until a final decision is made based on the individualized assessment along with EEOC recommendations.
      • The City must inform the candidate of the final decision before making it official.
  • Richland County: Public sector county employers are subject to ban-the-box laws.
    • Timing of inquiry: On an initial employment application, public sector county employers are prohibited from asking about or looking in a job applicant’s criminal history.
    • No adverse action implications
  • City of Spartanburg: Public sector city employers are subject to ban-the-box laws.
    • Timing of inquiry: On an initial employment application, public sector city employers are prohibited from asking about or looking into a job applicant’s criminal history.
    • No adverse action implications
  • York County, SC: Public sector county employers are subject to ban-the-box laws.
    • Timing of inquiry: On an initial employment application, public sector county employers are prohibited from asking about or looking in a job applicant’s criminal history.
    • No adverse action implications

What shows up on a background check in South Carolina?

South Carolina background checks typically show arrest records, convictions, and similar information state law allows. The public usually cannot access any dismissals, not-guilty verdicts, or arrests not resulting in a conviction.

Background checks can also show work history, educational background, or financial history.

How far back do background checks go in South Carolina?

The state of South Carolina follows the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which allows convictions to be reported without limitation. This means any criminal charges that resulted in a conviction, no matter how old, can show up on a background check.

However, a Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) must follow these guidelines:

  • Arrest records, civil suits, and civil judgments that from the date it was filed precede the report by over 7 years or until the statute of limitations declared by law has expired, whichever is longer.
  • Tax liens: can only go back 7 years
  • Bankruptcies: can only go back 10 years
  • Accounts put in collection: can only go back 7 years
  • Other adverse information: can only go back 7 years.

Generally speaking, a criminal background check in South Carolina can look past seven years under the following conditions:

  • A job with an annual salary exceeding $75,000
  • A job requiring deliveries or in-home services
  • A job with a government agency
  • A job at an insurance company
  • A job with a company that processes background checks internally

How long does a background check take in South Carolina?

The SC Law Enforcement Division follows the regulations set forth by the S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). According to the FOIA, SLED has 10 business days to tell you if non-exempt public records are available and to set up a time for you to review the records. The time frame is 20 business days for any requests that are older than two years.

How long does a background check take for a gun in South Carolina?

Federal law states that before a federally licensed firearms dealer sells an individual a firearm, they must initiate a background check. Private sellers are exempt from this law.

South Carolina firearms dealers are required to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) directly in order to initiate a background check. The FBI uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database to run background checks.

The FBI has three business days to finish a background check after a dealer submits a request. If the FBI does not respond within that time frame, a sale can be completed.

According to the South Carolina legislature, SLED is to approve a form showing that the background check was complete.

How do I get a background check in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, SLED Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) is the central repository for all of the state’s criminal justice data. SLED CJIS is responsible for collecting, processing, storing, and disseminating criminal information and records.

The agency also provides assistance to the administration of criminal justice to help with crime prevention by delivering precise, timely data to local, state, and federal agencies. They also release information to the public when allowed by law.

If you request a publicly available document, make it clear that you are requesting records under the SC Freedom of Information Act. Be as detailed as possible in your request.

You can request records by email or mail:
Mail: Freedom of Information Office S.C. Law Enforcement Division P.O. Box 21398 Columbia, S.C. 29221

SLED charges the following fees for document retrieval, scanning, redaction, and printing:

  • Scanning/Redaction Fee: $20 per hour
  • Archival Retrieval Fee: $25 per box
  • CD/DVD Fee: $5 per disk
  • Printed Copies: $0.15 per page

SLED does offer a reduction or waiver in fees for those that qualify. Approval must be obtained prior to submitting a request.

SLED may require that you pay a deposit of up to 25 percent of the total anticipated cost before moving forward with your request.

Background Check Steps

To conduct a criminal background check in South Carolina, you can search online or request by mail. You will be charged a non-refundable fee of $25.00, which you can pay by credit or debit card. A $1.00 convenience fee will also be charged for any background searches conducted online. If you send your request via mail, you will not be charged the convenience fee.

Requests Made Via Mail

The first step is to complete the Criminal Records Check Form.
SLED accepts the following forms of payment when requesting a criminal background check by mail:

  • business check
  • certified check
  • cashier’s check
  • money order (SLED will not accept personal checks or cash)

Mail your Criminal Records Check Form, payment, and a self-addressed stamped envelope and to:

SLED Records DepartmentPO Box 21398 Columbia SC 29221-1398

Make sure to specifically note if the criminal records check needs to be certified or notarized.

Requests Made Online

South Carolina’s online program is called SLED CATCH that lets you view and print criminal records information from the state of South Carolina only. A SLED CATCH report does not include information about wanted persons.

The arrest report results SLED CATCH is supported by fingerprints taken by a detention facility or law enforcement agency.

It’s important to make sure that you have all of the information below, and that it is correct. SLED CATCH requires that you submit an exact match of the:

  • subject’s last name
  • first initial
  • date of birth

The program will search by social security number if you provide it.

When required by statute, SLED will only conduct fingerprint-based background checks.

If you are part of an eligible charitable organization, you may be able to pay a reduced fee of $8.00.

Local school districts do not pay for prospective teachers and substitutes to receive a criminal background check.

SLED CATCH is a name-based search only. Fingerprint-based searches are the most reliable method and the least likely to result in a false positive or false-negative result.

Should I use a third-party background check company?

A third-party background check can offer your more information from private sources, including criminal history and convictions. It will typically cost an additional fee, on top of South Carolina’s fees, to use a third-party company to conduct background checks.

South Carolina Department of Corrections and Inmate Records Search

South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) provides information regarding inmates. You can search for an inmate online by following these instructions:

  • Enter the inmate’s SCDC number or their State Identification (SID) and hit submit.
  • If you do not know the SCDC number or SID, you can enter the name of the inmate you are searching for. You can leave the first name blank if you aren’t sure of it.
  • Choose “Phonetic Match” to see all inmate records matching the sound of the name you are looking for.
  • Once you see the inmate you are looking for you can click on it to see detailed information.

Sex Offenders

South Carolina uses a sex offender management application called SORT, which you can access at no charge through the US Department of Justice to the State of South Carolina.

You can search online here.

South Carolina Driving Records

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) oversees driving records. You can obtain your personal three-year or ten-year driving record at any time for $6.

  • Driver’s license, Beginner Permit, or ID #
  • Issue Date of Driver’s License
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth

To obtain another driver’s report, you are required to have that driver’s consent or you must present a specific reason for the information in accordance with the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994. This applies to, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Insurance companies
  • Commercial driver’s licenses
  • Government agencies
  • Businesses to verify information
  • Court proceedings
  • Investigations

If you would like to request the information by mail, you can send in a Request for Driver Information. You can use the SCDMV Form MV-70 to request the data needed. Be as detailed as possible on your request.

Mail the form to: SCDMVAlternative MediaPO Box 1498Blythewood, SC 29016-0035

Include a payment made out to the SCDMV for $6. Do not mail cash.

South Carolina Vital Records

DHEC’s Office of Public Health Statistics and Information Services (PHSIS) provides an extensive list of information to individuals.

PHSIS manages South Carolina’s vital records registration, field consulting, correction, and certification.

South Carolina’s Division of Vital Records officially records and keeps vital information having to do with births, marriages, divorces, and deaths.

Columbia’s State Office of the Division of Vital Records allows you to search for birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.

South Carolina’s DHEC can charge for the search of vital records or other services, including certified copies of birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.

When requesting vital records from South Carolina, you will need the following information:

  • The person’s full name, including any previous names
  • Location and date of the event
  • Valid photo ID and notarized application for a marriage license or death records
  • Marriage license number
  • Divorce case file

Payment Methods:

When mailing a request, you can send a cashier’s check or money order made payable to SC DHEC.

For onsite customer service, you can pay by:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • Money order or cashier’s check made payable to SC DHEC
  • Cash (no bills larger than $50)


For a records search, South Carolina charges $12 for each record requested. The fee is non-refundable, even if no results are found.

Any additional copies will cost you $3 each.

For special filing requests, it will cost you $15 per record. This fee is applied for:

  • Court orders
  • Adoptions
  • Legitimations
  • Paternity acknowledgments
  • Correction affidavits
  • Parentage affidavit establishments

Fee Authorization

South Carolina law allows DHEC to charge you for searching vital records or related services, including the issuance of certified copies of birth, marriage, divorce, and death records.

How do I obtain a credit history background check in South Carolina?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows all Americans one free annual credit report from each of the three main United States credit bureaus, which include:

  • Transunion
  • Equifax
  • Experian

You can obtain a free credit report from one of the three credit bureaus listed above by providing the following information:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number

What do I do if the information is incorrect on my background check in South Carolina?

If you feel as though your information is incorrect, you have the right to dispute it. You can call SLED’s Public Dissemination Unit at 803.896.1443.

Can You Get a Free Background Report in South Carolina?

South Carolina charges for a criminal background check. SLED charges $25 for a criminal background check.