The easy guide to employee background checks in Mexico
May 4, 2023
For global companies hiring employees in Mexico, background checks are a crucial part of your due diligence. By conducting background checks as part of the hiring process, you can verify your new hire's identity and credentials, ensure they have the right experience, help protect your company from potential threats, and make informed decisions about the best employees to hire.
But global employers already know that conducting international background checks can be a daunting process. To keep your background checks compliant, you need to understand Mexican state and federal laws, know how to handle and store employees' sensitive information, and more.
If you're looking for a guide to running comprehensive and legally compliant employee background checks in Mexico, you've come to the right place—read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
- Are you legally required to run background checks on Mexican employees?
- Is it legal to run background checks on Mexican contractors?
- What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Mexican employees and contractors?
- What types of background checks are illegal in Mexico?
- When should you conduct Mexican employee background checks?
- The easiest way to run a background check on a Mexican employee or contractor
- Background check mistakes to avoid in Mexico
- Frequently asked questions about background checks in Mexico
Are you legally required to run background checks on Mexican employees?
It isn't mandatory to run background checks on employees in Mexico, but most Mexican employers (and global employers who hire in Mexico) choose to do so.
Mexico is less strict about background checks than many other Latin American countries, and doesn't prohibit employers from collecting certain types of information, as long as they handle employees' sensitive data in accordance with privacy laws (more on that below). But that's no reason to be lax with your background check policies—you still need to know and understand Mexican labor laws so you can ensure that you aren't using any information collected in a background check to discriminate against a protected class in Mexico.
It's also important to note that Mexican law requires employers to obtain consent from employees before gathering any of their data. While you can send employees a notice and consider it tacit consent if they don't object to a background check, many employers tend to err on the side of caution and obtain written consent to be sure they're in compliance.
Is it legal to run background checks on Mexican contractors?
Provided you have the contractor’s consent, yes—it’s legal to run background checks on independent contractors in Mexico.
What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Mexican employees and contractors?
In Mexico, you can conduct different types of background screenings, based on a new hire's role. Here are the most common types, and a few other background checks you can consider (more on each one below).
Common background checks
Less common background checks
Criminal record check
Credit history check
Social media check
Motor vehicle report (depends on role)
Working with children check (WWC) (depends on role)
Here’s each type of check in more detail:
- Criminal record. A criminal search in Mexico can be national or local. National criminal records are kept by the State Superior Tribunal of Justice Courts, Supreme Court, Federal Justico Court, and Courts of First Instance. Local searches can be done through the applicant's state attorney general.
- Employment history. Employers may contact past employers to verify their dates of employment as a means of making sure they have correctly represented their experience.
- Education history. Employers can request transcripts, certificates, or additional information to verify potential employees' education, especially for any roles that require specific training, certification, or education.
- Reference check. Employers can contact references provided by job candidates.
- Medical screening. Medical screening may include drug tests, chest X-rays, and musculoskeletal or skin examinations, for the purpose of validation that a candidate can perform job duties without risk to their health. Employers should conduct medical checks carefully, as it is illegal to discriminate based on disability or health.
- Credit check. Employers can check potential employees' credit reports, especially for executive roles or positions that require financial literacy.
- Social media check. Employers may review any of a candidate's public social media profiles and information.
- Motor vehicle report. If the role requires driving, employers can run a motor vehicle report to verify a candidate's driver's license. Note that these reports don't include driving records—driving related infractions are attached to the vehicle tag and can't be attributed to individuals.
What types of background checks are illegal in Mexico?
Unlike many Latin American countries, Mexico doesn't prohibit employers from conducting any sort of background checks. However, there are some guidelines to keep in mind:
- Laws for the protection of personal data say that employers must get employees' or candidates' consent before running a background check.
- You cannot discriminate against job candidates in Mexico on the basis of race, nationality, gender, age, disability, religion, migratory condition, health, sexual orientation, religion, sexual preferences, political opinion, or social status.
When should you conduct Mexican employee background checks?
Mexican employment background checks should be conducted either during the recruitment process, or as part of the pre-employment screening process. You can conduct background checks before sending a potential new hire an offer letter, or you can make a conditional offer of employment before conducting a background check—meaning the job offer is conditional upon the successful completion of the background check.
Employers should be sure to also provide written notice to the job applicant that a background check will be conducted and obtain their written consent before collecting any personal information.
The easiest way to run a background check on a Mexican employee or contractor
There are several different companies that can run global background checks on employees in Mexico, including Rippling, TritonMexico, Hireright, and BackCheck. The easiest by far is Rippling because background checks are directly integrated into the onboarding flow.
Just enter basic hiring info like salary and start date, and Rippling will send the offer letter and new hire paperwork—and automatically run a legally compliant background check and e-verify the results. See Rippling today.
Background check mistakes to avoid in Mexico
- Assuming background checks in Mexico are the same as in the US. Mexico and the US are neighbors, but the background check process is a bit different. Many global employers rely on background check services to help them navigate conducting background checks in foreign countries—Rippling makes this easy.
- Mishandling sensitive data. In Mexico, if a company mishandles an employee's sensitive information, the employee can file a complaint with the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection (INAI). The INAI has the power to investigate the complaint and, if it finds that the company violated the Federal Personal Data Protection Law, it can impose fines and order the company to rectify the situation.
- Not getting employee consent. Mexico's privacy laws also require employers to obtain consent from applicants before beginning the process. Companies should note that employees and job candidates also have the right to revoke consent at any time.
- Not getting the right identification. Background checks should be done using the applicant's full name, but because so many people have similar names and surnames in Mexico, it's important to also include the candidate's mother's maiden name to be sure information is collected on the correct person. You should also use all their addresses from the last five years, since many criminal records are local and won't show up on a national criminal history check.
- Skipping the background check. Because of all the different rules and requirements, doing background checks on global hires can seem overwhelming—and it may be tempting to skip it altogether. But background checks are an important part of employee onboarding, and help protect you and your company.
Rippling makes it easy to run background checks in Mexico.
Frequently asked questions about background checks in Mexico
Are background checks legal in Mexico?
Yes, background checks are legal in Mexico. There are no types of background checks that are expressly prohibited, as long as you get consent from the employee before conducting the background check and stay within the rules of anti-discrimination and data privacy laws.
How do privacy laws affect background checks in Mexico?
Mexico's main data privacy law went into effect in 2010. The Federal Personal Data Protection Law (Ley Federal de Protección de Datos Personales) requires individuals to give express consent for the processing of their personal data.
Individuals also have what's known as ARCO rights—the right to access, rectify, cancel, and object to the processing of their data, as well as to revoke consent.
The National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection enforces the law. Before personal data collection, individuals must be presented with a Privacy Notice that provides information about the scope, terms, and conditions of data processing.
How do human rights laws affect background checks in Mexico?
Mexico's human rights laws in labor matters are not as extensive as in some other countries. However, they still prohibit discrimination against job seekers or employees based on certain protected grounds, including race, nationality, gender, age, disability, religion, migratory condition, health, sexual orientation, religion, sexual preferences, political opinion, and social status.
Do different industries in Mexico require different background checks?
In Mexico, you can run any kind of background check on any potential employee for any industry. However, certain industries (for example, childcare) should have stringent criminal background checks to help companies avoid liability.
How far back do criminal background checks go?
Criminal background checks in Mexico can go as far back as when the applicant turned 18 and became a legal adult, but it's standard for background checks to cover seven years.
What are the benefits of running background checks in Mexico?
Background checks come with many benefits for employers, including:
- Enhanced security. Background checks can help filter out job applicants who would pose a threat to the company or its employees.
- Protection against negligent hiring. Companies can be held responsible for hiring employees who later engage in public misconduct. Background checks reveal past misconduct, helping mitigate this risk.
- Better hiring quality. Background checks help filter out candidates with discrepancies or inconsistencies in their work or educational backgrounds. They verify that applicants are who they say they are, and that their stated qualifications are accurate.
- Protection from occupational fraud. Background checks protect your company's reputation by helping avoid dishonest and fraudulent job seekers.
Onboard new hires and run background checks with Rippling
With Rippling's Talent Management System, you can seamlessly onboard new hires and set them up for success. Just enter basic hiring info like salary and start date, and Rippling does the rest—including running a legally compliant background check, and e-verifying the results.
Ready to hit the ground running with every new hire? See Rippling today.
Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.