Thousands of British people move overseas every year to work, either temporarily or permanently. Young people taking a gap year either before or after Uni, people who are relocating to another country with an existing employer, or those breaking away from the UK completely to build a new life elsewhere. Anyone who has made the move to a new country will know just how much paperwork there is to get through when you’re trying to organise the practicalities of renting a property or opening a bank account. Depending on the country, you might also be asked to provide some sort of certificate proving that you are a trustworthy person who hasn’t fled their home country leaving a string of convictions behind them. Luckily, this is a fairly common scenario so the procedure for getting a certificate is straightforward.
ACRO – Criminal Records Office
The body in the UK which organises and prepares police certificates for those moving overseas is called ACRO. For many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a police certificate has to be submitted before your visa is granted. It’s not the same thing as the DBS checks which are carried out on people who are working in the UK in positions of responsibility, but they are similar. The Police Certificates show the person’s name, address and other personal details, along with a list of any convictions and other information held about them on the police computers.
Does my Police Form Have to Be Clean?
Each country has its own criteria for the people who are granted a Visa. Most foreign governments are understanding of people who have had minor brushes with the law in the past and who have shown that they are a reformed character ever since. Immigration specialists will be best placed to advise on whether the convictions which are shown on a Police Certificate might be enough to stop a Visa or work permit being granted.
Getting a Police Certificate
It’s easy to apply for a Police Certificate, and this is easiest done online. In order to apply for your certificate, you’ll need proof of your current address. If you’ve already moved overseas, you can provide that information. You’ll also need to send a recent passport photograph, and colour copies of an identity document such as your passport. You will also have to submit your National Insurance number and driving licence number if you have one, and have a valid email address to submit the form and receive information. If you’re using a third party service to manage the application on your behalf, you’ll also have to authorise them to do so. The usual timescale for turning around the Police Certificate is 10 working days, or two days if you have opted for the express service. Police certificates are dispatched to the address you’ve provided on your identity documents, so remember to factor in postage delays. Although you can submit your application by email your certificate can’t be sent electronically, so you’ll need to wait until your original arrives in the post.