How Far Back Does a Military Base Background Check Go?

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

how far back does a military base background check go

The most encompassing answer as to how far back does a military base background check go, is ten years. As to what these background check for military procedures cover, it depends on the branch of military service concerned.

Military service is a line of a profession that concerns national security. As such, the government finds it very important to scrutinize those who are part of the service, in order to protect the state’s interests.

Read more about this in the following sections.

How Far Back Do Military Background Checks Go?

These background checks go as far back as ten years, as previously introduced in this article. They are carried out for either enlistment, also referred to as the MEPS background check, or for granting secret security clearance from the federal government.

Generally, these background checks cover the following:

  • dishonorable discharge records
  • past convictions
  • drug use


  • criminal record
  • mental and physical health records


  • (may also include) interviews with the individual, his/her spouse, hometown neighbors and even school teachers, to name a few.

While the history coverage of ten years is similar across different branches of the military, their disqualifiers (notes that usually lead to a failed screening result) differ.

  • A US Army background check considers felony offenses, convictions for domestic violence, and even being on parole or probation as disqualifiers. Army background check requirements ensure the subject’s fitness for duty.


  • The Navy also puts weight on the subject’s criminal history, whether convicted as a juvenile or an adult. Similarly, Marine Corps background checks also consider felony convictions as major disqualifiers.
  • The US Air Force background check is slightly more particular than those previously mentioned. It puts weight on patriotism, allegiance to the US, ties to foreign governments, foreign preferences, and inappropriate sexual behaviors.


  • National guard background checks are a bit more lenient. Usually, they are carried out internally, as the case during President Bideen’s inauguration.

An important distinction to make is between military background checks and military base visitor background check procedures. The former, as extensively discussed above, is for those looking to enlist in the military or be granted security clearance, while the latter is a quick test for those who wish to enter military bases.

Frequently Asked Questions


What disqualifies you from entering a military base?

As mentioned in the previous section, visitor background checks are done to screen those who wish to enter military base premises. The major disqualifier is the national criminal record.

Gaining access to a military base would usually require the visitor to present an identification document and be subjected to an Identity Matching Engine for Security and Analysis (IMESA).

What does the military look for in a background check?

Background checks largely cover criminal records, financial standing, drug and/or alcohol history, and even the individual’s social media presence. These background checks can also go as far as interviewing the people close to, or in connection with the subject in question. Those factors are to determine if the person is qualified for designated tasks or interviewing for a position in the military.


Whether you’re looking to enlist in the military or simply curious about how far back does a military base background check go, hopefully this article has been of great help to you. The ten-year background check may seem overwhelming; however, this article also hopes that this information has helped increase the confidence you have in the men and women in the military service who work hard to protect national security.

Come back to this article for related clarifications on the matter. Cheers!

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