The easy guide to employee background checks in Brazil

Published

May 3, 2023

Hiring employees in Brazil? One of the first things you want to do is a background check to help verify your potential new hire's background and credentials—and help avoid the risk of bringing on an employee who could be a liability or threat to your company.

But for global companies hiring employees in Brazil, it can be intimidating to dive into international background checks. What kind of background checks are allowed under Brazilian rules and laws? How do you need to handle and store potential employees’ sensitive information? Are background checks even legal?

This is your guide to running comprehensive and legally compliant employment background checks in Brazil. Read on for all you need to know.

Table of Contents

  • Are you legally required to run background checks on Brazilian employees?
  • Is it legal to run background checks on Brazilian contractors?
  • What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Brazilian employees and contractors?
  • What types of background checks are illegal in Brazil?
  • When should you conduct Brazilian employee background checks?
  • The easiest way to run a background check on a Brazilian employee or contractor
  • Background check mistakes to avoid in Brazil
  • Frequently asked questions about background checks in Brazil

Are you legally required to run background checks on Brazilian employees?

Background checks aren't mandatory in Brazil, but many employers still choose to conduct them to verify their potential new hires' identity, work history, and education.

It's important to note that you need to get your employees' consent before running a background check in Brazil—and that many types of background checks that are commonly run in other countries can be dicey in Brazil because of anti-discrimination laws (more on that below).

Is it legal to run background checks on Brazilian contractors?

It's legal to run background checks on contractors in Brazil, but the same rules apply to full-time employees: You need to get their consent, and collecting certain types of information could run afoul of anti-discrimination laws.

What types of background checks do businesses commonly run on Brazilian employees and contractors?

In Brazil, you can conduct different types of background screening, 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

Employment history

Medical screening

Educational background

Criminal records (depends on role)

Reference check

Credit report (depends on role)

Civil records

Here’s each type of check in more detail:

  • Employment history. This is the most common type of background check and is customary for employers to perform. After obtaining the potential new hire's consent, the employer can reach out to past places of employment to verify work history, including start and end dates. The information collected should be confirmed with the potential new hire during the interview.
  • Educational background. Employers may ask for transcripts, certificates, and other proof of a candidate's educational background—especially for roles that require specific training or education.
  • Reference check. Employers can ask candidates for references (or candidates can include them on their resumes), and reach out to them during the hiring process.
  • Medical screening. If a candidate is requesting accommodations at work due to a disability or medical condition, an employer can request a medical screening or information from the candidate's doctor. However, this should be done carefully—Brazilian labor laws prohibit discrimination based on medical conditions, and employers could face legal action if they choose not to hire someone who belongs to a protected medical class (a pregnant person, for example).
  • Criminal history. The general rule in Brazil is that running a criminal background check is discriminatory and should not be done—however, it's allowed for certain roles: domestic employees; caregivers of minors, the elderly or the disabled; road transport drivers; employees who work in the agricultural sector handling of sharp work tools; bankers; employees who work with toxic, narcotic substances and weapons; and employees with access to confidential information.
  • Credit history. A credit check is not a typical background check in Brazil, but it's allowed if the candidate's position will require financial literacy.
  • Civil records. A civil records check is not standard in Brazil but is offered by some background check providers.

What types of background checks are illegal in Brazil?

  • Questions about gender, race, place of origin, marital status, color, age, or family status. Any employment conditions based on these would be considered discriminatory under Brazilian law.
  • You can run a background check into someone’s criminal record for certain roles, but you’re legally prohibited from discriminating against candidates based on a minor offense or criminal investigation.
  • Unless a new hire is asking for accommodations based on a disability, it’s ill-advised to request a background check of their medical records. That’s because it’s illegal in Brazil to refuse someone a job based on their medical history.

When should you conduct Brazilian employee background checks?

In Brazil, background checks are typically done while a candidate is going through the recruitment or hiring process, before an employment offer has been made. No background check can be performed without the candidate's consent. Information collected on the candidate's employment history should be confirmed with them during the interview process.

The easiest way to run a background check on a Brazilian employee or contractor

Several different companies can run background checks on employees in Brazil, including Rippling, TritonBrazil, 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 Brazil

  • Assuming background checks in Brazil are the same as in the US. The background check process is very different in Brazil compared to somewhere like the US. Brazil limits the types of background checks that can be performed, while the US has a standardized set of data most employers collect, regardless of whether it's necessary for the industry or role.
  • Performing unnecessary background checks. It's vital for employers to note Brazil's labor laws and only perform background checks that are necessary and allowed. While a criminal background check is standard in many places (including the US), it's viewed as discriminatory in Brazil and only allowed for certain types of employment.
  • Not getting employee consent. Brazil's labor laws also require employers to obtain consent from applicants before beginning the background check process. Companies must also provide candidates with a copy of all personal information they've collected upon request.
  • 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 Brazil.

Frequently asked questions about background checks in Brazil

Are background checks legal in Brazil?

Yes, background checks are legal in Brazil, provided they are conducted in compliance with Brazilian labor laws, data privacy laws, and other regulations.

Employers are allowed to request information from job applicants that is relevant to the job position, including criminal record checks, education verification, and employment verification checks. But employers must also obtain informed consent from job applicants before conducting background checks and ensure that they do not discriminate against job applicants based on any protected grounds, such as race, gender, religion, or criminal history.

How do privacy laws affect background checks in Brazil?

Brazil recently introduced a new data protection law, known as LGPD (General Data Protection Law or Law nº 13.709/2018), which regulates how companies can use personal data in Brazil. This new legislation limits the amount of personal data that can be used by companies, including in the process of background checks.

Companies are required to justify the need for background checks and limit the amount of data they collect. Employers must carry out a Legitimate Interest Assessment (LIA) to demonstrate that the background check is necessary and that no Brazilian citizens' fundamental rights are being violated. During the preparation of the LIA, companies must also determine the amount of data necessary for the background check. For example, some roles may require a criminal background check, but very few roles would require searching through a candidate's social media profiles.

How do human rights laws affect background checks in Brazil?

When conducting background checks in Brazil, employers must be aware of anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit discrimination based on certain characteristics, including criminal convictions. In Brazil, employers may not discriminate based on gender, race, place of origin, marital status, color, age, or family status.

Do different industries in Brazil require different background checks?

Different types of background checks are allowed for different industries. Specifically, case law allows employers to conduct a criminal background check on candidates who are seeking certain roles, including:

  • Domestic employees
  • Caregivers for minors, elderly or disabled people (in daycare centers, nursing homes, or similar institutions)
  • Heavy-load truck drivers
  • Employees in the agriculture industry whose work requires using sharp tools
  • Bankers
  • Employees who will handle narcotics, toxic substances, or weapons
  • Employees who will handle confidential information

How far back do background checks go?

It's typical for employment screening background checks in Brazil to go back seven years.

What are the benefits of running background checks in Brazil?

Background checks are a part of hiring due diligence that 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.

last edited: July 13, 2023

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.