Criminal record checks for working abroad

If you are emigrating from Northern Ireland or going abroad to work, volunteer or study, you might need a criminal record check. You should ask your employer or the overseas organisation about the check they need.

Criminal record checks in different countries

AccessNI doesn't give advice about checks necessary for each country. You should ask your overseas employer or the country's embassy, consulate or High Commission.

When you'll need a Police Certificate

When you're emigrating or going abroad to work, study or volunteer, you may need a criminal record check to get a visa.

You must get a Police Certificate from the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Record Office (ACRO) to complete your visa application for:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • USA 

A Police Certificate will disclose any convictions, warnings, reprimands or cautions recorded on UK police systems.

To apply for a Police Certificate online or by post, go to:

Emigrating to countries which don’t accept a Police Certificate

Not all countries accept a Police Certificate as a valid criminal record check. If you’re emigrating, you should contact that country’s embassy, consulate or High Commission and ask them to confirm what they accept as a criminal record check.

To read more about Police Certificates for people emigrating from the UK and applying for visas, go to:

AccessNI basic check for working overseas

If an employer overseas asks you for a criminal record check before starting a job, and that country accepts an AccessNI certificate, you can apply for an AccessNI basic check.

This check  discloses any unspent convictions in the United Kingdom (offences that aren't spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders (NI) Order 1978).

If an overseas employer doesn't accept your basic check, AccessNI won't refund your payment.

Standard and enhanced checks

An individual cannot apply for a standard or enhanced check. Only umbrella bodies and registered bodies can apply for these checks.

Apostille or legalised document for working or studying abroad 

Many employers, universities and authorities abroad ask for a 'legalised’ document of your criminal history or stating no such record exists. A legalised document is stamped with an apostille, which verifies your document is official.

Only the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) can issue UK apostilles on official, signed certificates and documents.

Getting your AccessNI basic certificate signed

AccessNI doesn't provide an apostille but is authorised by the FCO to sign basic certificates. AccessNI’s signature confirms to the FCO that the certificate is genuine.

If you want AccessNI to sign and stamp your basic certificate, you should send the certificate to AccessNI:

When they sign and return your AccessNI basic certificate, you must apply to the FCO for the document to be legalised.

Working overseas with children 

If you're going to work or volunteer with children in another country, your employer or the organisation might ask you to get a criminal record check.  You can apply for an AccessNI basic check but this mightn't be enough for the work you'll be doing. If you can't get the check the role needs, you must apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) from the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Record Office. 

To apply for an International Child Protection Certificate, go to:

This certificate doesn't cover you for working with vulnerable adults.

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