Background Checks: New York County Searches Explained

In the world of background checks, not all county searches are created equal – and New York is definitely one of the trickiest states to navigate. Some counties allow record searches, while others have records that are only able to be accessed via a costly statewide search. We at InfoQuest spend a good amount of time educating our clients when the need for a statewide NY search arises and have decided it’s a good idea to share this information here!

To obtain the most comprehensive and thorough records search, criminal background screenings should rely on county-level searches whenever possible. However, as we said before there are some places where a county search just is NOT possible. New York actually has 11 counties as of today that do not allow direct access, and as such force your hand into a costly statewide search. So which counties are the culprits? As of today’s posting they are:

  • Allegany
  • Bronx
  • Cayuga
  • Fulton
  • Kings
  • Montgomery
  • Nassau
  • New York
  • Orleans
  • Queens
  • Richmond

Having to perform a state search isn’t necessarily a bad thing though! For all the expense of the New York statewide, it is an excellent report. In fact, all 62 counties are included in that statewide search even though 51 of them allow direct county access.

As we have mentioned 3 times now there is a cost to doing this statewide search, so we wanted to share some facts and best-practices to make sure that when the occasion swings around, you only have to pay the fee ONCE!

1. The New York Statewide search mechanism is based on finding an EXACT match of the actual full first and last name and date of birth of the individual search. Any variation of the name or DOB in the database is not considered a match and is not reported.

2. Information included in the statewide search are conviction and pending records as they relate to felony and misdemeanor cases originating in Town and Village courts, city, and county/Supreme courts.

3. Sealed records are not reported.

4. As of 07/20/07, data relating to noncriminal offenses (violations, infractions, etc.) no longer appear as part of the statewide search. This change came as a result of a case filed in a New York court where crimes were defined by NY state law as including misdemeanors and felonies only. Convictions on offenses such as violations or infractions are only reported if the criminal history summary includes a misdemeanor or felony conviction for the same event.

5. If the statewide search has incomplete information, courts can request additional fees from customers who pursue the completed record. They may also instruct you to submit your inquiry by mail.

6. Cases are updated approximately every 24 hours within New York City, and an average of once per week everywhere else in the state.

7. Cases are searched back to different years in each respective county, refer to the handy chart below – taking note that the year indicates the first year for which records are complete. There may be data in the system that predates the year indicated.

8. The turnaround time for a request is typically one business day.

9. Surnames with hyphens will generate the following variations:

  • Smith-Black
  • Smith Black

10. Surnames with apostrophes will generate the following variations:

  • O’Reilly
  • O Reilly
  • OReilly

11. Surnames entered with a suffix will search both with and without the suffix. Names searched without a suffix will not generate names appearing with a suffix.


Well that was a lot of information tossed at you at once, but we were being honest when we said New York was tricky! Fortunately those details are handled in-house at InfoQuest, but we did want to offer some clarity.

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