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. 
 

Who needs to submit police clearance documents?

Probably you. With few exceptions, all immigration authorities require visa applicants, including all permanent residency visa 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 visa application. Upon receiving your invitation to apply for a visa, you have only 90 days to submit your final visa application. Police checks from countries relevant to your application could take longer than that, so do not delay if you consider this might be an issue for your application.

How long does it take to receive them? 

That depends. Delivery times will vary widely by country and issuing authority. We advise most applicants begin the process of obtaining police checks as soon as they begin the process of preparing the initial visa application.

 
In the UK, the authority that issues UK police certificates, the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO), advises that it takes at least 40 days for them to send certificates from the date of receipt of the request. 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.
 

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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