Canada background checks

Insights into Canada's Background Check Landscape

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Canadian background checks are done a little differently than they are in the US and around the world. So what can you expect and what processes are involved in getting a background check in Canada? Here’s our comprehensive guide on the process.

How Canadian Background Checks Work

The Canadian legal system differs from other countries like the US in a few significant ways. In the United States, background checks often need to be ordered at the county level, which offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date criminal records. This means that you might need to order several checks if you’ve lived at a few different addresses across the country.

With Canadian background checks, however, things are a little more centralized. This means that most background checks take a look at national databases like the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. If you’ve lived in several provinces, you still only need to order one background check (rather than order a background check for employment in Ontario and then another one for Alberta, for example).

What Are the Different Types of Background Checks in Canada?

There are several different types of background checks available in Canada, and the type of check you’ll need depends on a few different factors.

Here are the most common types of Canadian background checks:

Name-Based Criminal Background Check

A name-based criminal background check, also simply called a standard criminal background check or a background check, is the most common type of check employers ask for. It’s a background check that takes a look at the CPIC database to see if you have a criminal record. This is the type of background check MyCRC provides.

Certified Criminal Record Check

This type of check is very similar to the name-based criminal background check. However, they have a few key differences:

  • certified criminal record checks use fingerprints to confirm an individual’s identity
  • certified criminal record checks are usually completed at a police station

They’re typically only used by people who are unable to confirm their identity during a name-based criminal background check (such as when they have the same name and date of birth as another person). They are also sometimes used by people who have a criminal record but don’t remember details such as:

  • the conviction offence
  • date of sentence
  • court location
background check in canada

Vulnerable Sector Check

This type of background check is a bit more specific. It’s designed to check if someone committed a sex crime for which they received a pardon, and is only used when someone will be working or volunteering in a position of power over a vulnerable population such as:

  • children
  • seniors
  • people who have disabilities

Due to the sensitive nature of this check, it can only be completed at a police station. When doing this type of check, police will look at local records as well as several different RCMP databases.

Other Types of Canadian Background Checks

Name-Based Criminal Background Checks, Certified Criminal Record Checks, and Vulnerable Sector checks are three of the most common Canadian background checks. Others include:

  • credit checks
  • drivers abstracts
  • education verifications
  • credential verifications
  • employment verifications
  • reference checks
  • social media checks

These are typically ordered by someone else, such as a future employer or landlord, for a variety of reasons. For example, a landlord might order a credit check before you begin renting their property, or an employer might order a credential check to make sure that you have the professional designations you claim to have on your CV.

How to Do a Background Check in Canada

In order to protect your privacy and the privacy of others, you need to verify your identity before doing a background check. In the past, this meant going to the post office and having your identity checked in person. Now, it’s possible to verify your identity online through trusted providers authorized to do so. However, this option is only possible when doing a standard criminal record check / name-based criminal record check.

If you need to do a background check, you first need to confirm the type of check you need to get, as it determines which steps you need to take. The steps differ depending on the type of check you’re getting.

Getting an Online Background Check in Canada

Getting a background check online in Canada is easy if you need a standard criminal record check (a.k.a. a name-based criminal background check).

To get this background check, follow these easy steps:

  • find a reputable online provider (beware of any site offering a “background check for free”)
  • provide your consent and create an account
  • verify your identity (usually this takes just a few minutes and involves taking a selfie and a picture of your government-issued ID)
  • disclose the conviction offence, date of sentence, and court location if you have a criminal record
  • that’s it! You’ll receive your results soon after.
canadian background checks police station

Getting a Background Check at Your Local Police Station

If you need a certified criminal record check or a vulnerable sector check, then you will need to complete your check at your local police station. Take the time to look up the station, its opening hours, and the procedures that need to be followed when ordering your check. In some cases, you might need to book an appointment or fill out specific forms to order your check.

You can read about what kind of information you need to bring here.

What Does a Canadian Background Check Show?

If you have a criminal record, your background check will only reveal the conviction offence, date of sentence, and court location. If you don’t have a criminal record, then your report will state that no criminal records were found. Click Here for more information on what’s on a background check.

If you ordered a standard criminal background check / name-based criminal background check, like the one offered by MyCRC, you’ll be asked to disclose any convictions while completing your background check. During this process, you’ll only be asked to disclose the following information:

  • conviction offence
  • date of sentence
  • court location

There’s an important reason for this. By law, third-party providers cannot show criminal record details, including conviction information. This means that the check will not reveal any additional information that you have not disclosed. If you don’t disclose your criminal record, the check will come back as incomplete.

So what happens if you don’t remember your conviction offence, date of sentence, and court location? In this case, you will need to get a certified criminal record check at a police station. Because they use your fingerprints to confirm your identity, they’re allowed to release these details.

To learn more about what information is revealed during a vulnerable sector check, contact your local police department.

Ready to get started? Do your check now and get your results fast with MyCRC!