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Background Checks in New Jersey

Table of Contents

Need more information? Check out our guides to New Jersey arrest records and New Jersey public records.


What is a background check?

A background check is an investigation into an individual’s criminal record, employment history, driving record, education, finances, or other aspects of their personal history. 

Background checks are often performed by an organization or company in order to screen a subject before a significant financial or legal agreement. However, individuals regularly perform background checks on themselves to make sure that the public information on them matches their personal records.

For more general information on background checks, consult our Background Checks FAQS page.  

How do I run a criminal background check in New Jersey?

The New Jersey State Police does not provide a searchable online database of criminal history information. Individuals must visit a local law enforcement agency and request a record in-person, or request a copy through from the New Jersey Division of State Police, Criminal Information Unit (CIU). 

Obtaining Criminal History Record Information of individuals other than oneself from the New Jersey Division of State Police, Criminal Information Unit (CIU) is limited to:

  • State or Federal government entities
  • Employers and volunteer organizations
  • Licensed attorneys
  • Licensed private detectives

To obtain Criminal History Record Information from the CIU an individual must have their fingerprints taken at one of a number of approved fingerprint capturing sites, which use live scan fingerprinting services provided by the private company IDEMA. 

The most convenient way to schedule an appointment is to do it online using the IdentoGO website. Simply visit the site, choose New Jersey, and select your local police department for the appropriate service code. Enter the service code and you can arrange an appointment at your convenience.  If you’d prefer to arrange an appointment through the phone, you may contact IDEMIA at 1-877-503-5981.

On the day of the appointment, be prepared to pay a fingerprint service fee of $42.80, which can be paid using a major debit or credit card. Expect to wait 10 working days for the request to be processed.

If you have any questions regarding a Criminal History Record Information request, contact the Criminal Information Unit at (609) 882-2000 or [email protected]

What can I do if my New Jersey criminal history record has incomplete or inaccurate information?

If your New Jersey arrest record has inaccurate or incomplete information, you can submit a challenge and have it corrected. In order to do so, contact the New Jersey Division of State Police, Criminal Information Unit at (609) 882-2000 or [email protected]. They will explain how to proceed with the challenge. 

How do I search for New Jersey court records?

Most New Jersey court records are public and accessible by searching one of several online databases. However, certain records are not publicly available, including those relating to sexual abuse cases, those containing trade secrets, and impounded records.

Use the following New Jersey Courts online databases to search for court records:

If you can’t find the court record you are looking for, it may be held by a local courthouse. Click here for the contact information of every local courthouse in New Jersey. 

Where can I find New Jersey driving records online? 

Individuals can access New Jersey driving records online through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. The document is called a Driver History Abstract and it covers your New Jersey driving history from the past five years, including accidents, moving violations, suspensions, etc. 

Complete the following steps to obtain your New Jersey driving record online:

  1. Request a User ID Number using your zip code, driver license number, and social security number
  2. Log in to the service with your User ID Number
  3. Pay a $15 fee using a credit or debit card
  4. Receive your New Jersey Driver History Abstract

Individuals may also request an abstract by mail or in-person at an agency location by completing the steps outlined on the New Jersey DMV website

How do I look up New Jersey vital records such as birth certificates and marriage licenses?

Vital records are records of important life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that are kept by government agencies and accessible upon request. 

Vital records are not public records that can be viewed by anyone, but the subject(s) of the record and authorized family members can view them in-person or order copies through a number of means. Additionally, one or more vital records may be required to complete a background check. 

The New Jersey Department of Health enlists the services of the private company Vital Chek to enable individuals to order copies of vital records online. The government-endorsed service offers vital records from 50 U.S. states and territories. 

Available vital records include: 

  • birth certificates
  • death certificates
  • marriage records
  • divorce records

Click here to place an order with Vital Chek

Additionally, vital records can be obtained from local Vital Records Offices throughout the state of New Jersey. For more information, contact the Office of Vital Statistics at 609-292-4087.

How do I search for a person’s sex offender status in New Jersey?

Individuals convicted of sex-related crimes or crimes against minors in New Jersey are required by law to register as sex offenders. The New Jersey State Police makes the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry available to the public on the internet in the interest of public safety. 

The Offender Search offers a number of different search options:

  • Name search
  • Area search
  • City search
  • Non-compliant offenders search
  • Internet names/Email search

What are the New Jersey background check laws for buying a gun?

Anyone in the United States that purchases a firearm from a licensed dealer must submit to a background check. However, states have different rules and regulations regarding firearm background checks. 

The following are some of the key aspects of New Jersey laws regarding background checks when buying a gun.

  • New Jersey is a full point of contact state for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database, meaning that licensed firearms dealers in New Jersey must contact the New Jersey State Police before transferring a firearm. The NJSP will then perform a background check on the prospective purchaser using state and local databases, as well as the NICS database. 
  • Firearm purchasers in New Jersey must have either a permit allowing the purchase of a handgun, or a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card.
  • All applications to obtain a handgun permit in New Jersey are processed through the NJSP or a local law enforcement agency. 

Source: Giffords Law Center

How do I perform a credit history background check in New Jersey?

Performing a credit check in New Jersey follows the same process as in other states. A federal law known as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) grants every American one free annual credit report each from the three main U.S. credit bureaus:

In order to obtain your free credit report from one of these three bureaus, you must provide the following information:

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