Police Clearance Certificates – What Are The Different Types?

Some form of police clearance check is now mandatory for employment in most sectors, and for the majority of countries when working overseas. This is especially true for all applications for China and Qatar, and in positions such as teaching and banking across the globe. But which types of checks are available, and how do they differ?

In this article

What We’ll Cover

  • DBS (CRB Check) Certificates

  • ICPC Certificates

  • ACRO Police Clearance Certificates

  • Disclosure Scotland

  • Police Certificate of Character (Ireland)

  • How long each certificate is valid for

The procedure for obtaining police certificates differs depending on the issuing country and is known by various names. In the UK they it is generally called a Police Clearance Certificate, while in Spain, for example, it is referred to as a Certificate of Conviction and in the UAE, a Certificate of Good Conduct. In essence, it is a document that confirms that there is no record of a criminal history. Here we will look at the various types available in the UK and Ireland, and their individual uses.

A DBS Certificate (Previously a CRB Check)

A Disclosure and Barring Service report has replaced the original CRB checks. These can not be requested by an individual, they must be requested by your employer. A DBS is the most common type of clearance requested for employment and volunteer positions for roles within the UK. For overseas positions, an ACRO certificate or similar is usually requested.

An ACRO Police Clearance Certificate

This is the most common type of police clearance certificate to be legalised for UK citizens moving overseas. This is generally because an individual can request these checks themselves, and they are internationally recognised by employers for legalisation purposes.

ACRO’s are issued by the Criminal Records Office and show any previously spent or pending convictions. When using an ACRO for legalisation purposes to apply for your visa, the original document is required to be stamped.

An ACRO can be requested online – some ID and other documentation must be uploaded as part of the process.

International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC Certificate)

The ICPC is also issued by the Criminal Records Office for the ACRO service, but this disclosure is more specifically aimed at those applicants who will be working directly with children. This report details the same previously spent or pending convictions as the original ACRO, but also provides an assessment of available intelligence and information which is relevant in the safeguarding of children. This includes information which does not relate to any official convictions.

Any offences committed overseas will also appear on this certificate, provided they have been fed back to the UK police or other law enforcement agencies.

Disclosure Scotland Certificate

A Disclosure Scotland certificate can be requested online. There are four levels of disclosure certificate with varying degrees of detail. Your employer may specify which level of disclosure you will require, but if in doubt it’s always advisable to opt for the most detailed.

There is also a PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) disclosure, which is the same as the ICPC ACRO certificate. This contains the same information as an enhanced Disclosure Scotland as well as information which does not necessarily relate to a conviction, but is deemed relevant in the safeguarding of children.

Police Certificate of Character – Republic of Ireland

There are two types of Police Certificate issued by An Garda Síochána in the Republic of Ireland.  One of the certificates is explicitly for use within Ireland itself, whereas the other is issued for use overseas, therefore it’s important to ensure you’re requesting the correct document for your needs. Both of these services are free and are requested directly from the local superintendent in the area you live, or previously lived.

If you are having a PCC legalised, you will require the original to be processed with a stamp and a wet signature from the Garda. The DFA will not Apostille an electronic copy of this document, therefore we will require a hard copy to be sent to us.

Which certificate do I need?

Your employer will need to specify which clearance you will require. If you are applying for a position where you will be working with children at any point, it is wise to opt for the ICPC ACRO or the PVG Disclosure Scotland to cover all possible situations.

How long is my Police Clearance valid for?

Each country will have it’s own requirements when it comes to the recency of the clearance certificate. If you’d like to know when to apply for your document and how long it will be valid for once you receive it, see the most popular destinations and their requirements below:

  • UAE – Must cover the previous 5 years of residency and be no more than 3 months old from date of issue by the time the applicant arrives in the UAE.
  • Qatar –The document must have been newly issued when being submitted for legalisation, with as little time elapsed as possible. The legalised certificate is then ready for use for your visa application, remaining valid for a window of 6 months. If you do not complete your visa within this time, you must get a new clearance issued and start the process again.
  • China – The Chinese Embassy will not accept any Police Clearance or DBS certificates that were issued more than 6 months prior to the submission date. This is also in line with their requirements surrounding Apostilles which can also be no older than 6 months when presented at the Embassy for the consular stamp.
  • Saudi Arabia – Your clearance must cover at least the last 5 years and have been issued within 28 days of submission for your visa. In the UK they will only accept ACRO police clearance certificates, which must show “no trace” to pass their checks.

Getting started

If you have been told that you require a police clearance for your employment visa, make sure you note the validity for the country you are moving to and ensure you are requesting the level of clearance you require. Once you have this requested, simply send the document to us. You can even have this sent directly to our offices from the issuing body if you prefer!

Need to get in touch? You can send us a text message on WhatsApp, give us a call on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, use our live chat system, get a personalised quotation here or via e-mail at sales@vitalconsular.com.

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Melanie Clarke
Melanie is a Digital Marketer and TEFL Specialist at Vital Consular. Before taking up a Marketing role, she spent 3 years building up a rich knowledge of global legalisation processes on the operations team. When she's not working, Melanie enjoys attending music events and pursuing many creative interests including screen printing and merchandise design.
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