Guide to Texas Background Checks

Danielle Hubein
March 02, 2023
5 min read

Employers often use pre-employment background checks to gain insight into a candidate’s history and qualifications. In Texas, there are no statewide fair hiring restrictions, but city, county, and federal laws may apply. Find out what’s in a Texas background check for employment, how long it takes to conduct one, how far back screenings may go, and Texas background check laws applicable to local jurisdictions.

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What is a Texas background check?

A background check for Texas employment offers key information about a candidate’s work experience, qualifications, and personal history. Background screening may be helpful before bringing job candidates, contractors, or even volunteers into your workplace. Here are a few pre-employment background checks Texas employers commonly conduct:

  • Criminal background checks may search national, federal, state, and county criminal records and reveal misdemeanor and felony convictions. The Texas Department of Public Safety provides statewide name- and fingerprint-based Texas criminal background checks, but employers may also choose to work with a background check provider to conduct these checks.
  • Employment verification confirms previous employers, positions held, length of employment, and identifies any employment gaps.
  • Education verification confirms enrollment history, dates of attendance, graduation dates, and degrees obtained.
  • Credit reports provide insight into a candidate’s credit and payment history, accounts in collection, tax liens, and bankruptcies. This screening may be used for positions that require working with financial assets or sensitive information.
  • Driving history (MVR) checks verify a candidate’s driver’s license class and status and may reveal moving violations or accidents. This screening may be used for positions involving driving or using a company vehicle.

As an employer, you may choose to conduct your own background check in Texas, though many Texas employers partner with a consumer reporting agency (CRA), like Checkr, to streamline the screening process. CRAs often have access to thousands of databases that can make the search process faster, more comprehensive, and more efficient while enabling your compliance with federal, state, and local fair hiring laws.

How long does a background check take in Texas?

Turnaround times for an employee background check in Texas vary depending on the scope of the search and whether you choose to conduct the screening yourself or work with a CRA. Running your own employer background check in Texas can be time-consuming. Contacting past employers, submitting requests to government agencies, and searching county court records online or with in-person trips to the courthouse can burden your HR team.

Conducting background checks through a CRA, like Checkr, can save valuable time and resources. Checkr’s modern technology can run selected searches in seconds, including SSN Trace and National Criminal Records Check. For county criminal record screenings that may take more time, a unique product feature, Checkr ETA, provides an estimated turnaround time for each background check report, enabling transparency for employers and candidates alike.

How far back does a Texas background check go?

How far back background checks go in Texas depends on the type of screening you’re conducting. Background check laws in Texas generally don’t limit how far back you can look in a pre-employment background screening, but what information is available in public records may be limited. For example, MVR reports for employment typically show 3 years of driving history, and juvenile records in Texas may be sealed and not available as part of a criminal background check.
Texas employers that work with a CRA must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA restricts non-conviction information reported by a CRA to a 7-year lookback period which includes arrests, civil judgments, tax liens, and most credit report information. It excludes bankruptcies, which may be reported for up to 10 years and criminal convictions which may be reported indefinitely. If a candidate’s expected salary is $75,000 or higher or if searches are conducted by the employer themselves, these limitations may not apply.FCRA look-back restrictions do not apply to positions for which the salary is expected to equal $75,000 or more and reporting of criminal convictions, employment history, and education verification.

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Texas state background check laws

There is generally no statewide Texas background check law that restricts employers from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history on a job application or running a criminal background check during the hiring process. However, many cities and counties in Texas have enacted Ban the Box and fair hiring laws that may impact how or when employers may request such information. (See “County resources” below.)

In addition to following local laws, Texas employers should comply with the federal FCRA when they work with a CRA to obtain background checks and credit reports. The FCRA generally requires employers to:

  • Provide candidates with written federal, state, and/or local disclosures about the background screening process
  • Get written consent from each candidate before conducting background checks
  • Provide a copy of the background check report to the candidate, if the candidate requests it (note that some jurisdictions require the employer affirmatively offer a copy of the report to the candidate)
  • Follow the adverse action process if the candidate is not offered a job due to information revealed in a background check

Complying with federal guidance and Texas pre-employment background check laws

in local jurisdictions can be challenging for employers, but a CRA can help you more easily navigate the legal landscape. Checkr’s platform has built-in tools that help reduce bias and enable compliance with applicable screening laws.

County resources

Use this information to find county resources and local Ban the Box laws in your area.

Bexar County

This southern Texas county is home to The Alamo, a historic site in the state’s battle for independence from Mexico. Its largest city is San Antonio, where 1.5 million of the county’s 2 million residents live. The area is a hub for aerospace, cybersecurity, and biotechnology, including the site of the Texas Biomedical Research Center.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to city employers in San Antonio.

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Collin County

Collin County, the fastest growing county in Texas, is home to just over 1 million residents.  Its largest cities include Plano, Frisco, and the county seat McKinney. Several world and regional headquarters are located in this county, including J.C. Penney, Frito-Lay, Toyota Motor Corporation, FedEx Office, and Raytheon. It’s also home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, called The Star.

Public Information & Records

Dallas County

The city of Dallas is at the heart of Dallas County, home to 2.6 million residents and the fourth-largest concentration of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters among US counties. Texas Instruments, Kimberly-Clark, Southwest Airlines, and the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank are a few of the many major employers in the area. After Dallas; Irving, Garland, and Grand Prairie are the county’s most populous cities.

Public Information & Records

  • A Ban the Box law applies to county employers in Dallas County.  A Ban the Box law also applies to city employers and private employers with over fifteen employees in DeSoto.

Denton County

Denton County occupies the northern portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. It includes the city of Denton and parts of Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Frisco, and Carrollton. Nearly 1 million residents call fast-growing Denton County home, as do truck manufacturing giant Peterbilt and yearbook and class ring company Jostens.

Public Information & Records

El Paso County

In the westernmost tip of the state of Texas, El Paso County borders New Mexico to the north and west and Mexico to the south. Roughly 79% of the county’s 865,657 residents live in the city of El Paso, one of the biggest manufacturing centers in North America with the largest bilingual and bi-cultural workforce in the western hemisphere.

Public Information & Records

Fort Bend County

Located in the greater Houston metropolitan area, Fort Bend County includes the thriving suburbs of Sugar Land and Missouri City, as well as parts of Houston itself. Fort Bend County is the most diverse in the state. Its commercial sector includes Fortune 500 companies, international firms, and a growing number of tech firms.

Public Information & Records

Harris County

The vibrant and growing city of Houston is the center of Harris County with a population of 4.7 million. Although the city of Houston spans multiple counties, it’s the most populous city in Harris County with 2.3 million residents, followed by Pasadena and Baytown. Houston features strong aerospace, biotech, oil and gas, and finance sectors. The city’s population grew nearly 10% between 2010 and 2020.

Public Information & Records

Hidalgo County

Fast-growing Hidalgo County is located in the Rio Grande Valley on the US-Mexico border. Its 870,781 residents are concentrated around the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area, where some of the largest employers include H-E-B, Hi-Tech Plastics, and T-Mobile USA.

Public Information & Records

Tarrant County

With 2.1 million residents, Tarrant County is the third-most populous in Texas. Its county seat is Fort Worth which, together with Dallas and their surrounding suburbs, forms the largest metro area in Texas. Tarrant County’s largest employers include Boeing and the corporate headquarters for American Airlines.

Public Information & Records

Travis County

Travis County’s 1.2 million residents enjoy living in the southwest’s version of Silicon Valley. The county and its largest city, Austin, are home to the University of Texas at Austin, the SXSW festival, a host of tech companies large and small, and a thriving dining, arts, and music scene. After Austin, Montopolis and Pflugerville are the county’s most populous cities.

Public Information & Records

  • Ban the Box laws apply to county employers in Travis County and employers with over fifteen employees in Austin.

Get a Texas background check with Checkr

Working with a qualified CRA, like Checkr, to conduct pre-employment background checks in Texas can help you streamline a complex process and navigate federal and local fair hiring laws with greater confidence. Checkr offers multiple background screening options to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, with a mobile-optimized platform and automated workflows to help make the background check process efficient for you and your candidates. Get started today with a Texas background check.

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The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

As Compliance Manager, Danielle analyzes the ever-changing laws and regulations affecting background screening to ensure that Checkr and its customers stay compliant. She also writes content to educate employers about background checks, screening best practices, and fair hiring laws. 

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