Post Brexit, all British passport holders (unless fortunate enough to have an EU spouse) need to apply for a Non Lucrative Visa if they plan on retiring to live in Spain.
Although Brexit has put a spanner in the works, many retirees hopeful of living in Spain are cracking on with their plans and getting to grips with the requirements and processes for a visa application. But can a small misdemeanour from a misspent youth put a block on those plans of sinking sangrias on the beach?
Understanding Non-Lucrative Visas
British passport holders no longer have the automatic right to live in the EU and if they wish to retire to Spain, they’ll need to request permission at the relevant Consulate in the form of a non-lucrative visa, also known as a retirement visa. Non-lucrative visas are granted based on various factors, including financial stability, healthcare coverage, even a certificate proving no exportable diseases but in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the Criminal Record check, also known as a Police Certificate or ACRO.
What is an ACRO/Police Certificate
First of all, the ACRO Police Certificate is specific to UK passport holders – other countries have different formats. An ACRO criminal records check (not a DBS), can take several weeks to process and once received, it needs to be apostilled with the Hague Stamp and translated using a registered translator from Spain .
But before getting to that stage, the Certificate needs to arrive showing NO TRACE or NO LIVE TRACE. If those words don’t appear and a criminal conviction is shown on the Certificate, it’s more than likely that the visa application will be rejected.
‘NO TRACE’ means that you have no convictions, final warnings, reprimands or even cautions held on file on the Police National Computer.
‘NO LIVE TRACE’ means that you have a criminal record and information is held on the Police National Computer but it has been ‘stepped down‘ and so no longer appears on the Certificate. Either of these results are fine for a Non Lucrative visa application
However, if you receive an ACRO Certificate with offences listed on it, then it’s highly likely that the Consulate will reject your visa application.
At Upsticks we’ve seen ACROs with offences listed rejected both at the point of application and later in the process, even if a hefty visa fee has been paid.
So how do you check if you have offences listed?
Well, there are a couple of options; you could just bite the bullet and spend 55 GBP to get the ACRO (even though you’re not ready to apply for a visa) just to see what’s on the Certificate. Remember, for the actual Non Lucrative visa application, the Certificate has to have been issued within 90 days of your visa appointment
Or, you could request a free Subject Access Request (SAR) which should show up any possible convictions – go to the ACRO website and on the home page there’s an email address to contact to request your SAR. [email protected]
What does “stepped down” mean? How does it affect convictions ?
The Police use a “stepped down” policy to dictate which convictions are included on the ACRO Certificate. The policy sorts offences into three categories of severity (Section A, Section B and Section C offences) and the classification of the offence determines the length of time it stays on your record. For very serious offences (Section A) it’s likely that the conviction will never be stepped down, while some less serious offences (Section C) may only stay on record for between five to twenty years.
Can I get convictions taken off the ACRO?
If you believe that there’s a conviction on your ACRO that shouldn’t be there, you can appeal to the ACRO office to have the offence taken off. There is a set procedure for this and not all offences can be removed. This process is the “National Criminal Record Deletion Process” and you can email [email protected] for more information.
The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 29.05.2023