Police Checks FAQs

What are police checks or clearances?

Police checks, police certificates, or criminal record checks (among various other names) provide an official record of any disclosable criminal activity on your personal record for the issuing country.
 
They provide immigration officials with the background they need before making further enquiries or passing your application along for further consideration of other elements. 
 
For more details, read on, or use our free assessement form for quick feedback from our UK-based experts regarding your circumstances.
 
 

Who needs to submit police clearance documents?

If you're applying for permanent residency to Canada, probably you!
 
With few exceptions, immigration authorities require most applicants, including all permanent residency applicants, to submit police certificates as part of the application process.
 

When do I need to submit them?

You submit your police check documentation with your final application.
 
Upon receiving your invitation to apply for a visa, you have only 60 days to submit your final visa application.
 
Police checks from countries relevant to your application could take longer than that to secure, but timing your request may be critical. You should seek professional advice if you consider this might be an issue for your application.
 

How long does it take to receive them? 

That depends on the jurisdiction, and delivery times will vary widely by country and issuing authority.

In the UK, the authority that issues UK police certificates, the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO), advises that it can take 40 days to send certificates from the date of receipt of the request, however in practice you may receive them in as little as one week. This can vary depending on demand, and apparently does not include postal times, which they list separately with time estimates based on the method of delivery and delivery address.
 
Times for receipt of equivalent checks from other countries may vary substantially, and in some cases may require a physical visit in person to the jurisdiction issuing the clearance.
 

Police Check Issuing Authorities by Country 

We have provided links to police check authorities for some of the countries most frequently cited below. By default, we have chosen the best route available for non-residents, as most of our clients will be requesting these documents from the UK.
 
Note also that some countries listed below (e.g. Belgium) require written requests and do not have a readily applicable or relevant link, in which case we have provided our suggestion for a starting point:

United Kingdom

Australia

Bangladesh

Belgium

Bulgaria

Canada

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

India

Italy

Kenya

Latvia

Lithuania

Mexico

Netherlands

New Zealand

Nigeria

Norway

Pakistan

Poland

Portugal

The Republic of Ireland

Romania

Slovakia

Slovenia

South Africa

Spain

Sweden

United States

 

Police Checks FAQs
Police checks frequently asked questions

Name: Police Checks FAQs

Description: Canada is a bit tough with their rules regarding police checks. You don't want to apply too early -- but equally if you leave it too late you can miss a deadline and get your application bumped! And if you have a criminal record to explain, be sure to get advice before making any representations to the Canadian gov't. This page also has helpful links to issuers of police clearance documentation.

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