How to apply for a Criminal Record Check in the UK for a visa application.

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A Criminal Record Check, also known as a Police Certificate, is an essential element of any visa application.

If you are planning to live, work or retire abroad as a UK passport holder, a Criminal Records Check, also known as a Police Certificate, is an essential element of any visa application.

The Police Certificate details whether or not you have a criminal record in the United Kingdom and may also include foreign criminal history information where it has been disclosed to the UK, as well as any impending prosecutions and offences that are under investigation.

Where to apply for your Police Certificate
Anybody who has lived or worked in the UK is eligible to apply for an ACRO Police Certificate, which they can do so online via this website

There are four types of Certificate, as follows:

  • No Trace: There are no convictions, cautions, reprimands/warnings or conditional discharges
  • No Live Trace: There is a criminal record but this information does not appear on the certificate because it has been stepped down
  • Trace: There is a criminal record and all the information has been disclosed
  • Further information stepped down: There is a criminal record, however only relevant criminal record information appears on the certificate as some information has been stepped down

How much does it cost?
Applicants can choose either a standard service at a cost of £55, or a premium service at £95. 

What information will you need to provide?

  • Proof of current address (full details of how to prove this on application form)
  • Passport-spec colour photo – see guidelines
  • Colour copy of passport (information/title page and photo)
  • 10 year address history including dates
  • Any additional relevant documentation e.g. POA, letter of authority (if applicable)
  • Valid email address
  • Endorser details – your application must be endorsed by a suitable individual who must provide their name, occupation, relationship to the applicant, telephone number and email address
  • Your UK National Insurance number and if applicable, driving licence number

There are specific guidelines about file size and format and lots of helpful information on the FAQ pages for the ACRO website and you can also start an online application from this page as well.

Can someone else apply for a Police Certificate on your behalf?
Yes, as long as the third party has a signed letter of authorisation from the person whose data is being requested, plus proof of identity that shows the true applicant’s signature. Valid proof includes a passport, driving licence or identity card.

How will the Police Certificate be supplied and how long does it take?
Certificates will only be provided in a physical format and are sent directly to the applicant only, not to the embassy or other authority. 

Standard service – 12 working days to process (not including weekends or Bank holidays) plus a few days for delivery.

Premium service – 4 working days to process (not including weekends or Bank holidays) plus a few days for delivery.

You’ve got your Police Certificate, what happens next?
You need to get the Certificate translated by a sworn translator and then it must be legalised with the Hague Apostille.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
If you have lived outside the UK for more than 3 months at a time, then Spanish Immigration will also require a Police Certificate from any country that you lived in.

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last updated 24/08/2021
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