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Employment Background Checks in North Dakota: What You Need to Know [2023]


Employers in North Dakota that have open positions must quickly find and hire employees to fill them.

While a fast hiring process is important, you must ensure that the people you hire are qualified for their jobs and do not have anything in their backgrounds that could threaten your business or the safety of your employees and customers.

Did you know that a North Dakota woman was sentenced to 55 months in prison after embezzling more than $2.8 million from her former employer?

Conducting North Dakota background checks can help you to investigate what your applicants have claimed on their resumes and whether they have any past criminal convictions that could disqualify them from your open jobs. Employment background checks can help to ensure the safety of your business and reduce your liability risks.

We conduct background checks for employers in the counties of Grand Forks, Burleigh, Cass, and Ward and have written this guide for you about the North Dakota background check process and the laws that apply.

Let’s get started.

North Dakota Background Check Laws 2023

North Dakota employers must comply with federal and state laws when they conduct background checks. If you violate these laws, you could face penalties, fines, and lawsuits.

The federal and state laws that govern the background check process are described below.

Federal Laws on Employment Background Checks


An important federal law that protects the rights of consumers in the privacy of their information, the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies both to the consumer reporting agencies that conduct background checks and the employers that receive and use the information.

Employers must provide notice that they intend to conduct background checks in writing before they can do so. Applicants must provide signed, written authorization before background checks can be performed.

When an employer receives a background check report that contains negative information, it must complete the adverse action process before deciding not to hire the applicant based on the information reported in the background check.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the seminal federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits workplace discrimination against applicants and employees who are members of certain protected groups.

Under Title VII, employers cannot choose to conduct background checks on only certain applicants based on their protected characteristics.

If an employer learns that an applicant has a criminal record on a background check report, the employer must assess the conviction as it directly relates to the job for which the employer is hiring before denying employment to the applicant.

North Dakota State Laws on Employment Background Checks

State Ban-the-Box Law for Public Sector Employers

North Dakota passed and enacted a ban-the-box law for public sector employers in 2019, which is codified at N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-33.02.2.

Under this statute, public sector employers cannot ask about an applicant’s criminal history until he or she has been asked for an interview.

However, this law does not apply to schools, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Rehabilitation.

North Dakota Sealed Records Law

Under N.D. Cent. Code § 12-60.1-02, people with certain types of convictions can petition the court to ask for their records to be sealed.

People with misdemeanor convictions can petition for record sealing three years after a conviction, and those with felony convictions can petition for record sealing five years after the conviction.

People who have been convicted of new crimes cannot ask for their records to be sealed, and those who have violent offense convictions or sex offense convictions requiring registration are not eligible.

People whose records are sealed are allowed to deny that they have any convictions. Sealed records also cannot be reported or inquired about.

What Does a North Dakota Background Check Show?

Most employers in North Dakota ask for a few common types of reports about their applicants’ backgrounds, including criminal records, former employment, educational attainment, and credentials. Other types of reports might also be requested.

Here’s what might appear on a few of the most commonly requested reports.

Criminal Employment Background Check Reports

If you request a criminal background check for employment on an applicant with a non-sealed criminal record, the following types of information about each conviction might appear:

  • Criminal charge
  • Date of offense
  • Offense level (Felony or misdemeanor)
  • Case disposition
  • Date of disposition
  • Sentence

Sealed convictions will not be reported and cannot be inquired about.

Employment Verification Reports

Employment verification reports are among the most important types of checks that employers request.

An employment verification report allows you to see whether your applicant has embellished his or her past employment record and allows you to confirm that the people you hire are qualified and honest.

This type of report will include the names of each past employer, the dates an applicant worked at each job, and the titles he or she held.

Education Verification Reports

Education verification reports are important when the jobs you are hiring require employees to hold specific types of degrees, certificates, or other types of educational qualifications.

Some applicants lie about holding degrees they never earned. Others might purchase fake degrees from diploma mills without ever taking any classes.

Education verification reports allow you to confirm that your applicants have the degrees or other educational qualifications they need for your positions and also show you whether their claimed institutions are accredited and recognized.

Licenses and Credentials Verification Reports

Some types of jobs require employees to hold specific licenses or credentials. If you are hiring for a position that requires a credentialed professional, running a license and credentials check is important.

This type of report can allow you to confirm that your applicants are fully qualified and help you to avoid potential negligent hiring lawsuits.

Pre-Employment Drug Tests

Many employers in North Dakota ask for pre-employment drug tests and make their job offers contingent on their applicants’ ability to pass them.

On this type of report, you will see whether an applicant has tested positive for any of the substances you requested testing for.

How do I get a Background Check in North Dakota?

Employers can request criminal history records checks from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

However, requesting criminal history records checks from the state will not give you enough information to make an informed employment decision.

This type of check will only return background information about an applicant’s North Dakota criminal history and will not reveal whether the applicant has convictions in other states or in federal court.

This type of background check also will not return important information about an applicant’s education, past employment, or credentials.

Some employers try to complete background checks themselves through a do-it-yourself approach. They might search applicants online, send multiple requests to different agencies, check their applicants’ references, and contact their former employers and schools as listed on their resumes. This approach can take several weeks and might return inaccurate, incomplete information that does not comply with the requirements of the FCRA.

A better way to conduct background checks for employment in North Dakota is to partner with a reliable background check service provider like iprospectcheck.

We quickly return accurate, comprehensive, and current background checks, and we always comply with the FCRA and other relevant laws.

How Far Back do Employment Background Checks go in North Dakota?

The FCRA and North Dakota’s record sealing law control how far back a background check in North Dakota can go.

The FCRA includes a seven-year limitation on information included on background checks when the positions pay less than $75,000 each year.

For jobs that pay less than this threshold salary, the following information cannot be reported:

  • Arrests not resulting in convictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Judgments
  • Lawsuits
  • Liens

The seven-year restriction does not apply to positions paying annual salaries of more than $75,000. Convictions can be reported regardless of when they occurred for jobs at any salary level under the FCRA.

However, North Dakota’s records sealing law allows people who have been convicted of certain misdemeanor or felony offenses to petition the court to have them sealed. Sealed records cannot be reported or inquired about regardless of when they occurred.

Background information about other things in an applicant’s past, including his or her past employment, credentials, or education is not restricted under any law.

This means that these types of reports can go back as far as you want.

As an Employer in North Dakota, How Can I Stay Compliant?

It is critical to comply with the law when you conduct background checks. If you don’t follow the laws and regulations governing employment background checks, you can face fines and other penalties and could face potential lawsuits filed by past applicants.

Follow the four tips below to ensure you remain compliant.

1. Don’t Ask About Criminal History Information on Your Applications.

While North Dakota currently only has a ban-the-box law for public sector employers, many states and cities are working to enact similar laws to ban questions about criminal history during the early hiring phases.

Since the law constantly changes, it is a good proactive measure to remove questions about criminal history from your applications. Wait to ask about an applicant’s criminal history until after you have determined that he or she is otherwise qualified for the job. Do not ask an applicant if he or she has any sealed convictions.

2. Assess Any Criminal Convictions Individually.

If you learn that an applicant has a criminal conviction, do not automatically decide to turn him or her down for the job. Instead, consider the conviction as it relates to the job for which the applicant is under consideration.

Do not institute blanket bans for applicants with any type of criminal record without conducting an individual assessment. However, if you are required by law to deny employment to applicants with certain types of convictions, you can do so.

3. Send a Pre-Adverse Action Notice.

If a background check report reveals negative information, you are required to send a pre-adverse action notice to the applicant before deciding not to hire him or her.

This notice must identify the negative information and include a copy of the report. Give the applicant a deadline to clarify the information by providing evidence that the record is inaccurate or that he or she has been rehabilitated.

4. Send a Final Adverse Action Notice.

If you still want to deny employment to an applicant after completing the adverse action process, you must send him or her a final adverse action notice.

This notice should include the name and contact information of the consumer reporting agency that performed the background check together with a statement that the CRA did not make the decision not to hire the applicant.

You also must include copies of the applicant’s rights under the FCRA.

How Much is a Background Check in North Dakota?

If you order a background check report from the state, it will cost $15 per report. However, the report you receive will not be comprehensive and will not include information about your applicants’ past employment, education, credentials, and others.

When you work with iprospectcheck, you can feel confident that our reports are comprehensive, accurate, and FCRA-compliant.

You can choose the specific types of information you need so that you will not be charged for extraneous data.

If you anticipate ordering 50 or more reports per year, we offer steep volume discounts. Call us today for a free, no-obligation quote.

How Long Does a Background Check Take in ND?

How you decide to conduct a background check will determine how long the process will take.

If you conduct a North Dakota state background check by sending a request to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, it will take between seven and 10 days for the state to process your request after it is received.

The report from the state also will not include all of the other types of relevant background check information you might need.

The best approach is to partner with a reputable background check service like iprospectcheck. We always comply with the law and have comprehensive access to reliable and current databases.

Our cutting-edge research methods allow us to return background check reports to our clients in North Dakota in as little as a few hours.

Turn to iprospectcheck for Reliable North Dakota Background Checks for Employment

Conducting pre-employment background checks should be a routine part of your hiring process as a North Dakota employer. Background checks can help you to protect the safety of your company and reduce your liability risks.

At iprospectcheck, we use advanced research methods and extensive resources to quickly conduct thorough, accurate, and legally compliant background checks for our clients in North Dakota.

Call us today to learn about the background check services we offer and to receive a free, no-obligation quote.

DISCLAIMER: The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Consult your counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.