Background Checks in New York

Table of Contents

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 York?

Individuals may request a copy of New York State criminal history information through the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). This is called a Personal Record Review. However, one cannot request the criminal history record of another person through this process. 

There are two varieties of Personal Record Review:

  • Unsuppressed – Contains all criminal history records, including sealed or suppressed records. 
  • Suppressed – Does not contain sealed or suppressed criminal history records.  

The process for obtaining a Suppressed or Unsuppressed Personal Record Review is basically the same and is as follows:

  1. Visit the IdentiGO website (or call 1-877-472-6915) to schedule an appointment to have your fingerprints taken at a designated live scan service facility provided by Morphotrust USA, a private company. 
  2. Enter the appropriate service code for a Suppressed Record (15464Z) or an Unsuppressed Record (15465F).
  3. Schedule an appointment at an appropriate time with a nearby location.
  4. Bring one form of identification (accepted forms are listed on the IdentiGO website) to the appointment and be ready to pay a fee of $63.50 using a credit card, check, or money order made out to “Idemia”.

After the appointment is complete, give the DCJS 7-10 working days to process the Personal Record Review. If you have any questions about the process, contact the Record Review Unit at 518-457-9847, 518-485-7675, or through email at [email protected].  

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

If your New York Personal Record Review contains inaccurate or incorrect information, you can submit a challenge to the DCJS. For arrest records, the challenge process involves contacting the agency responsible for the arrest and requesting that they submit the changes in writing to the DCJS. 

Contact the DCJS Record Review Unit at [email protected] for direction on how to proceed with the challenge. 

How do I search New York court records?

The New York State Unified Court System is making court records available online, however the project of transferring documents to the online database is still a work in progress. 

Right now, New York County Supreme Court records are available through the SCROLL service. SCROLL allows users to search by Case Index Number or by the Plaintiff or Defendant’s Name. 

Another option is performing a Sitewide Search of NYCOURTS.GOV. Thousands of court records can be found using this method. 

Finally, court records that cannot be found using these services may be held by an individual New York court. Visit the New York State Unified Court System Court Locator in order to find the contact information of any court in the state. 

Where can I find New York driving records online? 

New York driving records can be obtained online through the New York Department of Motor Vehicles by using the MyDMV service. The price for a driving record abstract is $7 and individuals must wait 5 days after the order to download and print the abstract. 

In order to use MyDMV to get your driving record abstract, you’ll need:

  1. A New York State driver license, state ID, or permit
  2. A credit or debit card
  3. A PDF viewer on your laptop
  4. A printer able to print PDF files

Here are the steps for obtaining a New York driving record abstract through MyDMV:

  1. Create a MyDMV account
  2. Log in to MyDMV through NY.gov 
  3. Follow the steps and pay the $7 fee with a credit or debit card
  4. Wait five days
  5. Download and print your New York driving record abstract

How do I look up New York 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 York State Department of Health enlists the services of the third-party vendor 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

For more information, contact the New York State Department of Health at [email protected].

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

Those in New York convicted sex-related crimes or crimes against minors must register as sex offenders in the state. Registered sex offenders are given a risk level from 1 to 3 based on the probability they will commit another offense, with 1 being low-risk and 3 being the highest risk.

The NY Division of Criminal Justice Services makes the New York Sex Offender Registry available online to the general public for safety purposes. However, only Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are viewable in the online directory. Users can search by name or by area

Click here to perform a search of the New York Sex Offender Registry. 

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

Performing a credit check in New York 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