Q542: I need a police check for immigration / emigration purposes, what do I have to do?
There is a scheme for anyone requiring a visa (residential, working or tourist) or wishing to emigrate to one of the following Countries:
AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, CANADA, CAYMAN ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH AFRICA OR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
If this affects you (if not ignore the rest of this paragraph), you will require a form called a Police Certificate. Guidance notes and an application form can be obtained from the following web address: www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx or you can contact the NPCC Criminal Records Office (ACRO) either by email or on 0845 60 13 999 during our office opening hours (8:30-16:30) Monday to Friday.
For other countries - the police can make checks of what is held on their computer systems about individuals and it is known as a subject access request. This is not a criminal records check. The police check will either provide a certificate stating that there is currently no information held about you on the police computer systems or it will provide a list of convictions.
There are three possible ways of obtaining the form. You can write/telephone the force involved and they will post one out to you, if you are outside the UK you can ask a friend or relative to collect one from the local police station in the force area concerned or some forces may have the form on their website that you can download.
By law, subject access checks have to be done within 1 month of the request being received. There is no charge for this service. Although the police will consider every request, they are under no obligation to provide all of the data and there are exceptions to providing data e.g. if it is likely to jeopardise an investigation.
You must complete the form yourself as it is your data (unless a child). In order to complete the form you need to provide two forms of identification, one with your name and date of birth and preferably a photograph (passport or driving licence) and the other with your current address or the address you lived at whilst in the UK (a recent utility bill or bank statement). Photocopies are accepted by some forces but not all (check prior to sending) and they must be of a good quality. If there is any suspicion of forgery then the check will not be carried out and the form will be posted back to you.
The form can be sent to your address abroad and it does not cost extra. It is advisable but not obligatory to send the form to the police force whose area you resided in in the UK.
The results are sent out on tamper proof paper and cannot be fast tracked, so apply in plenty of time.
The name of the form and procedure may vary slightly from force to force.
If you still have questions about getting the application submitted, contact the Data Protection Officer at the Force in whose area you presently/last lived for further advice.