A background check is a common way to gather more information about a person’s past employment, behaviours, and criminal history to help with decision making. You can think of it like a risk assessment tool. Here at Certn we offer personal background checks and background checks for businesses of all sizes to help our clients learn more about who they’re hiring or renting to.
While we’re a global company, Certn is headquartered in BC and has screening experts who’ve been working with clients across many industries since we launched online criminal record checks in 2017. Therefore, we know a thing or two about checks in the province. Keep reading to find out more about how to get a criminal record check BC and answers to common questions.
Why Do You Need a Background Check?
There are different types of background checks and the type you need depends on the purpose, from pre-employment screening, to applying for a security clearance, to volunteering. This applies to all provinces and territories in Canada.
Below we’ve listed some common background checks and why you might need them, with a focus on pre-employment screening and property management.
Criminal Record Checks
These are what people commonly think of when they think of background checks and involve checking local, provincial, and/or federal databases for any criminal history, including information on arrests, convictions, and other police-related issues.
Just because you have a criminal history, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a job. Though, it may impact what kinds of roles you can apply to according to the Criminal Records Review Act (CRRA). Here’s more information on jobs that require a criminal record check.
For example, screening is mandated for licenced childcare and adult care facilities, teachers, employees of governing bodies and regulated professional associations, and all employees in the BC Public Service. In all circumstances, employers are required to look carefully at each individual case and evaluate how the criminal history may impact the responsibilities of the job.
Can your landlord ask you for a criminal record check? While these checks are commonly used in pre-employment screening, there are some province-specific restrictions around criminal record checks for tenants. BC landlords and property managers can ask for information about your employment and income, rental history, credit references, and credit. They can also require a criminal record check (provided the appropriate consent is obtained) if a reasonable person would consider it appropriate in the circumstances and only for the purposes that they disclose to you as the prospective tenant. A landlord can’t require you to consent to a criminal record check as a condition of providing a tenancy unless the information is necessary to provide that tenancy. For example, if the rental unit is connected to a daycare. The Human Rights Code protects tenants from discrimination based on race, gender, religion, and other protected grounds. Having said all this, in most instances, a criminal record check isn’t necessary for tenancy.
For certain roles and responsibilities, especially those involving financial matters, credit checks which include credit reports from credit bureaus might be examined to assess your trustworthiness. Whether a credit check is permitted as part of pre-employment job screening depends on where you live. In BC, like other places in the country, credit checks to screen candidates are permitted, but like other background checks they have to be relevant to the job.
Employment verification is a process through which someone confirms the accuracy of job information provided in an application. Employment verification vets job titles, timelines, and other related details. This verification is typically part of the pre-employment screening process and is done to ensure that the information provided by the candidate is truthful and accurate but it can also happen as part of the rental application process.
Similarly, education verification is a process through which someone confirms the accuracy of a person’s educational background as provided in an application. Education verification vets the authenticity of institutions, dates of enrollment, and any degrees, diplomas, and certificates obtained. Education verification is an important step for employers to ensure that they’re hiring individuals with the necessary qualifications and experience for the job, and contributes to the overall integrity of the hiring process.
For jobs requiring specific licences or certifications, credential verification vets the validity of any professional designations. This is common in professions such as health care, law, and finance where a licence to practice or operate is mandatory.
Social Media and Adverse Media Screening
Some background checks might involve searching your public online presence to look for specific content or discrepancies that might impact your ability to perform a certain role. Where permitted (it’s permitted in BC), the process involves examining publicly available information on platforms such as Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, Instagram, and others. While public information is fair game, employers have to respect candidates’ privacy and avoid seeking or using information that’s not relevant to the job.
These checks look for a history of traffic violations or accidents. Driving record checks are part of a comprehensive background screening process that helps employers make informed decisions about candidates, particularly for roles where safe and responsible driving is essential.
Again, in this blog post, we’re exploring criminal record check BC, but here’s more general information on how background checks work based on check type.
What Happens with the Information from a Background Check?
As we covered above, the results of background checks are used by employers for hiring decisions, landlords for rental applications, institutions for security clearances, and more. However, the specific outcomes can vary depending on the nature of the background check and the employer’s policies.
Employers must adhere to applicable laws and regulations when conducting background checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the United States, for example, outlines specific requirements for the use of consumer reports (which includes background checks) in employment decisions and how to provide candidates with an opportunity to address any discrepancies or adverse findings. Here’s more about what US employers need to know about adverse action requirements. In Canada, employee background checks are covered by the Privacy Act and provincial privacy acts.
Transparent and Fair Background Checks
Transparent and fair use of background check information helps maintain trust between employers and candidates. Above all, background checks should be tailored to the specific needs of the job or requirements. Blanket background checks that include irrelevant information can inadvertently lead to discrimination. For instance, asking for information about a candidate’s credit history when it’s unrelated to the job may violate anti-discrimination laws. Additionally, conducting a targeted background check is more efficient and cost-effective. Unnecessary checks can be time consuming and may result in additional expenses.
How Do You Get a Criminal Record Check in BC?
According to the Government of British Columbia website, you can get a criminal record check BC:
- In-person by visiting a local police department;
- Through the province’s online criminal record check portal;
- Through a company or organization as part of their recruitment process; and/or
- Online through an approved third party service provider.
In-Person at the Local Police Department
Police agencies across BC, including both municipal and federal RCMP, have adopted consistent guidelines for police information checks.
Scheduling an Appointment
If you live in Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) recommends scheduling an appointment. On the day of your appointment, bring your completed police information check form (you can download the form or pick one up in person at their location).
In addition to the completed form, you must bring two forms of government-issued identification (one must have a photo). Acceptable forms of identification include:
- valid driver’s licence (with photo)
- valid BC Identification card (with photo)
- valid passport
- valid Permanent Residency card
- birth certificate
- valid citizenship card
According to the VPD website, if your identification doesn’t include your Vancouver address, you must also provide proof of residency, such as a current bank statement or utility bill in your name.
The cost to process the application is $80.00, but this fee is waived if you require a check as part of a volunteer position.
The results, available in about a week, are released directly to you and you can decide whether or not you want to share the results with the hiring organization.
If you’re running a criminal record check as part of a hiring requirement, confirm with the company or organization what their preferred process is. In addition to doing it yourself in-person, it’s also possible to obtain a criminal record check BC through the province’s online portal or an accredited third-party, which could be cheaper or faster.
Provincial Criminal Record Check Portal
In order to request a criminal record check through the online portal, you’ll need an access code provided by the requesting organization. You can’t access the province’s online portal any other way.
- Go to the Criminal Records Review Program’s eCRC page
- Review the instructions
- Enter the access code
- Select “Request a New Criminal Record Check”
- When asked for “Position”
- After payment, retain a copy of the receipt
It’s recommended that you complete this process on a desktop computer rather than a mobile device.
Through a Company or Organization as Part of their Recruitment Process
If you require a criminal record check BC as part of a recruitment process someone at the company or organization may provide you with an access code so you can use the Criminal Records Review Program’s eCRC page as described above or they may coordinate with a different third-party vendor.
If a prospective employer retains a background screening company, like Certn, to complete all their background checks, then they’ll coordinate with you to request your consent and provide personal information such as your full name, date of birth, Social Identification Number (SIN), and address. The employer may also request details about your employment history, educational background, and professional references.
If you have concerns or questions about the background check process, you should feel free to discuss them with the employer.
Through an Approved Third Party Service Provider
As we covered, employers use checks, especially criminal record checks, as part of their hiring process to make informed decisions about candidates and landlords use them to assess the suitability of potential tenants.
Benefits of MyCRC
By using our RCMP-approved online check instead of an in-person visit to a police station or via the province’s online portal, you never have to leave the house and can have all the necessary information in as little as 15 minutes.
You can run a background check on yourself online through MyCRC at any time, but it’ll be at your expense and a prospective employer may have policies around how recent the records need to be. The cost for a MyCRC criminal record check is $64.99.
If you’re applying for a new job or open to new opportunities, it might help to understand what others may see about you when they conduct their own screening. Deciding to run a background check on yourself can also be a proactive way to verify the accuracy of your personal and professional information and address any discrepancies or inaccuracies before they affect your employment or housing opportunities.
Can You Look up Someone’s Criminal Record Canada?
Checking criminal records is often required by employers, volunteer organizations, and government agencies as part of the hiring process.
Canadian criminal records documenting offences that fall under federal and provincial jurisdiction are maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in a Canada-wide database called the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). Records can be requested in person or online, but checks on a person can only be ordered by individuals or organizations with a legitimate reason to request such information. Requesting your own records for your personal reference counts as a legitimate reason, so does a prospective employer requesting a criminal record check as a condition of hiring you for a new role. However, you can’t request your friend or partner’s records, for example.
However, published civil, criminal, and penal judicial records and other courthouse details can be accessed for free by anyone searching public repositories such as Québec’s provincial SOQUIJ database where available.
This blog post covers the SOQUIJ database and criminal record check Québec.
Criminal Record Check Online BC
Whether you run HR at a global company or are looking for your own results, Certn offers secure online criminal record checks BC with industry-leading turnaround times.
There are benefits to choosing Certn background checks:
Boost Candidate Experience – There’s leaving the house or waiting online. Whether you’re running a background check on others or yourself, the identity verification and background check steps can all be completed online via SMS or email invites.
Deploy Out-of-the-Box or Integrate Flexibly – Certn integrates with leading hiring and applicant tracking systems, compliance platforms, and property management software. If you’re running bulk checks as part of your business, you can learn more in our Partner Marketplace.
#1-Rated Usability – From the front-end UI to the back-end data sources, Certn’s AI-powered checks are built with clients and candidates in mind. It’s that easy.
With MyCRC, a division of Certn, you can run a background check on yourself and we’ll send you your official results in as little as 15 minutes. Get started today!