Background Screening in China: Best practices

Background screening  is growing in popularity in China, which is one of the world’s fastest developing countries.  Major growth  is driven by manufacturing, agriculture and technology sector in China.  In addition, many players in these sectors have  have put in place stringent background screening policies to ensure workplace safety and quality of hires.

This article will look at practices followed in China to conduct common types of checks that are widely performed almost in all sectors. We will also look at some of the best practices which organizations can adopt.

Even though Background checks have been a practice for a long time in China, they have gained more importance now with the increasing need for manpower in a lot of critical sectors. Most commonly conducted checks by employers in China are; education checks, past employment verification, criminal records check and reference checks. In financial industry, financial probity checks are widespread. In specific sectors such as transportation, logistics and healthcare, drug/medical tests are also conducted.

Now, let’s look at specific practices typically followed in China to conduct the most common checks.

Education Verification in China:

Ministry of Education in China has a centralized database  making this process streamlined. However, 70% of education checks can be achieved through this centralized database, 30% are still conducted in a traditional way of contacting school/college directly.

The centralization of data was effectively done for the records whose year of passing is 2002 and onwards.However, those for whom the year of passing is before 2002, it has to be done via traditional method.

Education checks made through the Ministry of Justice database are relatively rapid, whereas checks completed directly through the school or institution normally take 2-10 working days.

Employment Verification in China:

There is no centralized database available for employment records, which leads to traditional verification route, i.e., Checking with each employer through Email/Call/ Fax or express to obtain the record, which causes delay in the completion of the verification.

These checks typically take 2 to 8 business days, depending upon the response time from an employer.

Criminal records Verification:

Conducting criminal checks is usual in China; however, there are limitations. Ministry reserves the right to disclose limited information to third parties or employers. These can also be conducted through the centralized database of the Ministry of Justice.

Drug Testing:

Drug tests can only be conducted through government certified labs.These are performed only if it is necessary for the role for which the candidate is getting hired.

Data Privacy regulations around BGV in China:

There are no specific restrictions for the background screening process in China; however, the candidate’s expressed consent is required to do any such processes. All verifications should be obtained from publicly available databases. E.g., Social security information is not public information and cannot be accessed or obtained while conducting background checks.

The new Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) came into effect on November 1, 2021.It is of utmost importance for employers and screening firms to comply with the PIPL as and when it is amended.

Best Practices:

Below are some of the best practices when conducting background screening in China.

Most employers in China update their employee records such as their name and other personal details in Chinese characters.It is best to know the name of the data subject in Chinese characters apart from in English, as it becomes easy for the verification sources to search in their records with that name, making the process faster.

There can be multiple employees with the same name however, PRC ID can help locate the exact employee record you are looking for.This helps to fast-track the process.  In China, the PRC ID is regarded as the national identification document, and all companies are required to have it on file for their employees.

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