Police certificate

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A police certificate is an official document issued by police or government agency of a country to enumerate any criminal records that the applicant may have. Criminal records may include arrest, conviction, and possibly criminal proceedings.

Police certificate is also known as good citizen certificate (in HK), good conduct certificate, police clearance certificate, or judicial record extracts.

Applicants may have to submit fingerprints and certain personal information to request a criminal record check, and the police or government agency may charge a fee.


A police certificate may be required if the applicant is:

  • Applying for vocational positions requiring clearance;
  • Seeking to immigrate or obtain visas; and
  • Satisfying an individual employer's request.


Depending on each country's law, applicants may be required to submit police certificates of countries which they have stayed beyond periods as specified by law.

  • Canada: Countries where applicants have resided for 6 months or more.
  • Ecuador: Country where applicants have principally resided during the last 5 years.
  • New Zealand: Countries where applicants have resided for 12 months or more.
  • United States: Countries where applicants have resided for 6 months or more.
  • Australia: For citizenship applications, countries where applicants have resided for 3 months or more if the applicants have been outside Australia for more than 12 months since acquiring permanent residency; for visa applications, countries where applicants have resided for 12 months or more.

Period of Validity[edit]

A police certificate may or may not have a period of validity noted on the certificate, and criteria for recognizing the validity of certificates vary widely. The criteria which different countries use to determine the validity of certificates are often independent of any dates or validity periods noted on certificates themselves.

Australia, for example, recognizes police certificates for 12 months from their issue dates for both visa and citizenship applications, independent of any validity period noted on the certificates themselves. Ecuador, in stark contrast, only recognizes police certificates (as of 2 March 2012) issued within 3 months of the date the certificates are presented (e.g., for a visa application), again independent of any dates or validity periods noted explicitly on the certificates themselves.

As in many countries, determining the validity periods of police certificates is often neither mandated nor noted in any legislation. In Australia, for instance, the approach has simply been adopted by Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship for the sake of consistency across varying jurisdictions; in Ecuador, in contrast, the approach has been adopted by the Department of the Interior.

Example: Australian Police Clearance Certificate[edit]

Individuals in Australia can request a Police Clearance Certificate (also known as a national criminal history check) on themselves.

A person may be required to present a Police Clearance Certificate as part of employment screening, as a pre-requisite for volunteer work, as preparation for a court appearance, to apply for a visa to enter/stay in some countries, or to satisfy a statutory requirement.

Individuals may seek a national criminal history check through two ways:

1.Their local police service.

2.A CrimTrac-accredited “broker” e.g. commercial background checking service provider authorised to conduct national criminal history checks for and on behalf of its customer (i.e. Health Outcomes International Pty Ltd (Trading As National Crime Check)). NPCS Accredited Agencies are listed on Australia's CrimTrac website.

External links[edit]