By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

The current unrest in Egypt, with hundreds of thousands of protesters crowding the streets of Cairo and calling for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, will most likely cause delays with international background screening conducted by U.S. companies on job applicants who were born, or who have spent considerable time, in that country.

The most recent reports from CNN state that violent street battles between supporters and foes of the embattled President Mubarak have left hundreds of people injured, and pandemonium reigns over the demonstrations that have lasted more than a week in Egypt’s capital city. Mubarak recently announced he would not seek reelection after nearly 30 years in office.  

A Wall Street Journal article dated 02/01/11 – ‘Multinationals Keep Egypt Offices Shut, Workers Home’ – reported that multinational companies operating in Egypt including Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola had closed offices and facilities for employee safety. None had made any decision on reopening and were following the situation closely.

The current – and historic – turmoil in Egypt serves as a reminder that the international background screening process is subject to delays in foreign countries that are beyond anyone’s control and may affect both Americans who spent time in a foreign country or people in the U.S. on visas. Employers should not discriminate based on national origin.

Employers in the United States should be aware that every country is different when it comes to international background screening. The general availability of public records that is taken for granted in this country is often times not the case outside of the U.S., where there may be very limited access to the types of information needed for employment background screening.

Since each country has its own laws, customs, and procedures for background screenings, employers face a number of the special challenges and practical difficulties when performing background screening outside of the United States, including:

  • Differences in courts and legal systems.
  • Language barriers.
  • Name variations including transliteration into English and Phonetic transcription or “transcribing.”
  • Time differences.
  • Means and cost of communications.
  • Differing calendars and holidays.
  • Inherent risk of fraud.
  • Costs more expensive compared to background screening in U.S.
  • Payments must be made in another country’s currency.

However, although international background screening can be challenging, it is not impossible. U.S. employers can find themselves in hot water if they assume that international background screening is too difficult or expensive and simply bypass the process.

International background screening has become more necessary in recent years due to the mobility of workers across international borders in a global economy that make it no longer adequate to conduct background screening on workers only in the United States. The need for international background screening can occur in several situations:

  • Job Applicant Born Abroad: An American company is considering a job applicant who was born abroad and is either coming directly to the U.S. from another country or has not been in the United States long enough to rely solely upon checking American references and criminal records.
  • Job Applicant Spent Time Abroad: An American company is considering a job applicant who spent considerable time abroad in another country and the employer wants to obtain data for that time period.
  • Job Applicant from Another Country Will Work in that Country: An American company is hiring an individual from another country to work in that country, such as an outside sales representative.

Recent government statistics show that U.S. residents who were born, or have spent significant time, abroad make up a large amount of the current U.S. population:

International background screening becoming more necessary due to mobility of workers in global economy is Trend #5 in a list of top background screening trends compiled by Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a leading background check provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). ESR’s Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening for 2011’ is available at:

Besides Egypt, Employment Screening Resources performs background checks internationally in countries that include Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, and the United Kingdom (U.K.).

For information about International Background Screening from Employment Screening Resources – including criminal background checks and employment and education verifications – visit

An A to Z List of countries served by ESR International Background Screening Services is available at:

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or [email protected].