How to Get a Background Check | Criminal Records

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Sometimes referred to as a certificate of criminal record (Certificado de Antecedentes Penales), a background check is required for numerous reasons for travelers abroad.

Furthermore, some countries refer to background checks as a police clearance certificate or a national police check.

In any case, these background checks are a necessary step to complete for those hoping to visit, live, or study abroad in another country for a lengthy period of time.

Wondering how to obtain one? Luckily, Go! Go! España is here to help.

We’ll explore the steps on how you can get a background check in a variety of different countries.

Anyone from digital nomads to those working to obtain Spanish citizenship can benefit from understanding the background check process.

Keep reading as we explore the different processes and procedures behind background checks around the globe.

Background Check USA

Whether teaching, studying, or simply living abroad, U.S. citizens are generally recommended to obtain their criminal background check through the FBI.

The FBI recently changed the background check naming convention to Identity History Summary Check (IHSC).

A US criminal record check, colloquially called a “rap sheet”, lists specific information related to criminal history.

To complete the IHSC, those in the U.S. will need to apply by following the instructions on the official government website.

The instructions for obtaining this are listed on the IdHSC website.

An overview on these instructions are as follows:

  • Complete the information requested on the application
  • Confirm preference for how you’d like to receive your application status
  • Submit your fingerprints
  • Remit appropriate payment amount
  • Wait for your results via your preferred method of communication

When completing your IHSC request electronically, you can also submit your fingerprints electronically.

You can complete this step at 192 different U.S. Post Office locations.

The cost for the process is $18.00 per person.

In the event you’d prefer to work with a vendor, FBI-approved channelers also exist.

FBI channelers assist with the submission of your background check request by proxy.

FBI channelers are private vendors that work on your behalf to forward your information to the appropriate channels.

Background Check UK

Background checks in the UK often receive a name of criminal record checks or police clearance certificates.

If you enter a search for ‘police clearance certificate UK’ or ‘criminal record check UK’, you will likely receive directions to contact ACRO.

ACRO is the national UK office that manages related criminal record information.

It provides a variety of services to confirm checks to criminal records.

Depending on where you reside in the United Kingdom, three separate organizations exist to provide these particular checks.

These organizations are:

  • Access Northern Ireland
  • Disclosure Scotland
  • Disclosure and Barring Service

The provider used in the list above will depend on the nature of the criminal record check you’re requesting.

Criminal Record Check UK

I.e., if a UK citizen applies for a job overseas to work in Spain as a teacher in a British school, they will need a specific criminal records check known as an ICPC.

The ICPC, or the International Child Protection Certificate, is a criminal records check for any past or present UK resident.

Many schools and other organizations across the globe use the ICPC.

It is part of a system check meant for those who will be working with children overseas.

It confirms criminal history and non-conviction data.

This ICPC is stated as being roughly similar to a disclosure and barring service certificate.

However, an ICPC is generally easier for employers to obtain.

Alternately, if you are applying for your visa, you’ll likely be requesting a police certificate.

Whichever relevant service is required, you can navigate to the ACRO criminal records office website.

Lastly, you can apply for the relevant background check through the various email links provided.

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Criminal Records Ireland

Those needing to complete a background check in Ireland might hear the term police certificate used more frequently.

The process for obtaining a police certificate is fairly straightforward.

In order to obtain a police certificate, you’ll need to apply in person at the Garda station (police station) nearest to you.

The Garda, or Garda Síochána, is the national police and security service of Ireland.

To apply for a police certificate you’ll fill out your application with some basic information.

E.g., your reason for applying and your current address information.

Relevant information must be provided in conjunction with your application, i.e.:

  • Visa application documentation (if applicable)
  • Passport copy
  • Proof of address

Another key point to keep in mind that your document must be notarized.

If you receive your document without a notary, you must consequently return to the Garda to have it notarized in person.

Your certificate remains valid for 12 months.

Requesting parties receive their police certificate free of charge.

Apostilled Documents

It’s important to keep in mind that many organizations require background check documentation to be either authenticated or apostilled.

To have your background check apostilled in Ireland, you’ll need to provide a cover letter with the following information:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Contact information
  • Return address
  • Payment

In addition, you’ll need to provide the country information in which you intend to use the apostilled background check.

An apostille stamp in Ireland will cost €40 per stamp.

Background Check Canada

Canadian background checks get split into three different categories i.e.:

  • Criminal record check
  • Police information check
  • Vulnerable sector check

Generally, those who will be working with children will need to obtain a vulnerable sector check.

Whichever category you fall into, to obtain your background check, you’ll need to visit the local police service in your area.

There you will provide fingerprints and your application in order to certify your criminal record check.

Additionally, you can submit your criminal record check application if you’re located outside of Canada.

You’ll first want to contact the appropriate authorized agency to obtain fingerprint copies.

Authorized agencies include:

  • Police services
  • Embassies
  • Private fingerprinting vendors
  • Public notaries

From there, you will contact the appropriate agency to complete your application.

Said company then submits the application on your behalf.

Submission then goes on to the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services.

This service maintains a nationwide database of all criminal records throughout Canada.

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Criminal Record Check Canada

There are a few reasons a Canadian or foreign national might require evidence of a clear criminal record. E.g.:

  • Citizenship applications
  • Travel
  • Volunteer work
  • Foreign visas
  • Employment opportunities

As mentioned above, you can visit any fingerprinting company accredited by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to obtain your background check.

Depending on where you live, these companies will take your fingerprints.

They will subsequently submit them electronically to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for verification.

The RCMP will specifically check each submission against the National Repository of Criminal Records.

Background Check Australia

Criminal background checks in Australia often receive the name of national police certificates or national police clearances.

Applying for a background check must happen through a registered entity like the Australian Federal Police.

The cost of each check is $42.00 per person, or $99.00 per person for a fingerprint and application combination.

You can submit your application for the National Police Check (NPC) online.

Your application must include the following items:

  • Valid form of payment
  • Preferred email address for communication
  • Fingerprint check
  • Identification documents per the 100 points checklist

The 100-point checklist is a checklist that gets used by anyone preparing specific identification documentation.

Per the NPC application, you do not need to obtain fingerprints.

Only under limited circumstances do these get requested.

Be sure to confirm with your organization if you are required to obtain a fingerprint check.

If so, you’ll obtain a set from your local police station.

Criminal Record Check NZ

In New Zealand, you can check for your criminal record history through New Zealand’s online Criminal Record Check.

Here, you will need to provide the following:

  • Current ID
  • Signed release form

Your identification must be clear, as well as match the information provided on your form exactly.

Forms of identification include drivers’ licenses, passports, or firearms licenses.

Your request should subsequently be fulfilled within three business days after submission of your documentation.

After a completed submission, you should receive a copy of your requested record within 15 business days.

Another key point to keep in mind that upon receipt of your record, you might need to have the document authenticated or apostilled.

This authentication process will vary depending on a variety of factors. E.g. what the organization you might be working for requires specifically.


New Zealand Clean Slate Scheme

New Zealand operates under the Clean Slate scheme.

This scheme allows people to withhold certain information regarding prior criminal convictions.

For those who meet the requirements of scheme eligibility, criminal convictions automatically get concealed.

It’s important to note that this scheme doesn’t extend outside of New Zealand.

To that end, certain countries might require your full record.

The embassies or consulates for New Zealand will be able to confirm such information.

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Police Clearance Certificate India

In India, background checks are more commonly known as police clearance certificates, or PCCs.

The certificate itself functions as a way to certify the applicant in question has no criminal activity on their record.

PCC India applications can be completed via the Indian embassy website.

The steps to complete this include:

  • Registering for an account on the website
  • Choose the option to apply for the Police Clearance Certificate
  • Print the submitted form
  • Visit your respective embassy or consulate for an in-person appointment

Applicants hoping to obtain a PCC must apply at their relevant consulate based on their current residence.

The list of documents necessary for the overall application process:

  • Online application form
  • 2 current photographs
  • Notarized copy of proof of address
  • Copy of Indian passport (if applicable)
  • Payment of applicable fees

Submission of documentation also includes an interview process.

Given these points, applicants are recommended to complete and submit appropriate documentation at least one month in advance.

Criminal Record Search – Items to Remember

As shown above, background checks have a variety of different names depending on the country you’re hoping to visit.

From the approval processes of residence visas to employment, background checks are a common occurrence worldwide.

In some instances, a criminal background check is simply one step in the process.

Some countries might also require you to obtain a criminal record check in addition to your background check once you arrive.

Organizations utilize background checks and criminal record checks for a variety of different reasons.

Some background checks are all encompassing, whereas criminal record checks focus specifically on criminal history.

Many schools, employers, and government entities require a criminal records check in order for you to legally live or work in the country you’re in.

Keep in mind, you are able to apply for specific checks like a US police certificate or NSW police check while abroad.

However, completing these steps before arriving in your destination country can help.

It’s generally best to avoid any hangups or lingering documentation that might be more easily attainable in your home country.

Lastly, some checks will need to have an accompanying apostille to authenticate the documentation internationally.

All Clear on Background Checks

No matter where you are in the world, obtaining a background check is a common occurrence for many organizations.

If you’re preparing to submit your visa application or have accepted a position at a company in a new country, you’re likely required to obtain a background check.

If the process feels daunting, Go! Go! España is here to help.

No need to dig through vague online searches regarding background check information any longer.

Whether you’re a U.S. citizen or hailing from New Zealand, we can help get you where you need to go!

Feel free to refer to this guide at any time for reference.

You can also contact us at any time for help with background check processes and procedures from any country.

Whenever you’re ready to begin, we’re here to help make the process as easy as possible for you.

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