Background Check and Criminal Record Checks

What do they want? And what should you provide...

A background check is designed to identify those people who should not gain access to critical aviation systems. 

If you work at the airport, or near aircraft in what is known as the Security Restricted Area (SRA), you will be subjected to a check.

Or, and this is a small or, you are working with access to supplies or Cargo away from the airport, that’s been designated as Air Cargo. That will find its way onto an aircraft.

What’s the common theme here? You could have unaccompanied access to the aircraft. Or to items that will be loaded on the aircraft, and you could interfere or deposit anything there. And some people seek to do just that. 

airport sunset

Criminal Record

This happens. We won’t give you horror stories but there are lots of them. Airport employees who have gained access to aircraft and cargo with the sole desire to plant a device. And it’s not always terrorism.

Most of the time it is for financial gain. Human trafficking being a big culprit. Sometimes it’s mental health issues, like the guy who decided to take a joy ride on a commercial aircraft as his way of saying goodbye.

If you’ve come across this article because you need background check process secrets, then we have some good news and bad news. The good news is that we can tell you what you need to know or where to find it, the bad news is if you are searching for information on how these checks are done – then we wouldn’t tell you even if we knew.


Thanks to ICAO and EASA, Annex 17 helps us draw up the NCASP and in this document it states that all employees need comprehensive background checks. We check the criminal record as well as what are known as security indicators. 

airport security

If you are a Security Manager, you are legally responsible for the security activities at your site and those you employ. First a reminder, this “background check” is part of the overall checks for employment, where your addresses, education, previous employment, (and gaps) for the last 5 years.

The Law for Employers

Also, it’s the law. If you are Airport staff and you need to get your ID (or if you’re Airline staff) you will need a background check as part of your company application. Which will be used to get into the SRA.

If you work with a security regulated entity (company) with access to supplies or cargo, you will be background checked if you have access to these items. 

Criminal Background check 

It applies all over the world and is from ICAO down to state levels. It’s law in the USA and all European countries. If you have moved between countries in the last 5 years, they will check your criminal record in that country too.

In the USA it covers the last 10 years and includes convictions, non-convictions, an FBI Fingerprint background check process, DUI’s and even credit checks. In the USA, third party providers such as TruthFinder do it for you.

You can also do it yourself. You can hop along to your local state police and ask them to provide a check and supply a certificate. You can also apply at the state level with the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) at the FBI. Just go there and follow the application process.

Law Enforcement

Your local law enforcement is responsible for the check. Not Airport police, or the FAA or your company. Same in Europe. Frankfurt or Heathrow airports don’t do the background checks.

unruly passenger

Everyone uses state/government police channels to access databases where these records exist. Airport ID centers, Airport Police or other entities may act as what are known as central processing organizations, but it is the state law enforcement who do the searching and finding.

Within the EU, you must go through one of these organizations to get this background check response. The EU countries use a system called ECRIS where all this data is shared.

Staff Hiring 

And these kind law enforcement folks have zero influence in the screening or its findings. Nor can they change a criminal history background check, regardless of what you’ve seen in films.

Nothing is more important than data in our industry. Our business relies on it and criminals and terrorist would do anything to get it. All of Aerospace, your country and all stakeholders have come together to agree on the employment background check and the procedures around how this is completed. Your personal data is protected and respected.

“Enhanced” Background Check

Security indicators are garnished via the Intelligence pillar that was introduced in 2020 and came into effect in 2022. Background information or Security indicators are the new buzzwords in background checks. Before, if you committed a crime and were convicted, there would be a court record that we could access.

Runway Inspection

There is now a way for most countries to include intelligence sources as part of these criminal record searches. As you can imagine, there’s little we know or could say about this process except to say that these entities check information about you, or the things that you have said that could be readily available in the public domain.

For example, on social platforms. Such as Facebook and Twitter. Or some popular discussion forums. So, if you’ve been on sites saying things that contain keywords that might scare security managers, or anyone. You could be flagged. My mom always said, “don’t write anything online that you wouldn’t mind if it appeared on the front page of CNN tomorrow”. She’s right. When you post it – it’s there. Forever.

And its always traceable back you. Even if you delete it. 

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