Criminal record checks for working abroad

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

AccessNI cannot give you advice about specific checks necessary for each country. You must check with your overseas employer or the country's embassy, consulate or High Commission.

Emigrating or going on extended stay

When you are emigrating or going abroad to work, study or for an extended stay, you may need to get a criminal record check in order 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 the following countries:

  • 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.

You can apply for a Police Certificate online or by post through the ACRO website

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 always contact that country’s embassy, consulate or High Commission and ask them to confirm what they accept as a criminal record check.

Find out more about Police Certificates for people emigrating from the UK and applying for visas on the ACRO website.

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.

If an overseas employer does not accept your basic check, AccessNI will not refund your payment for the check, so make sure you check before applying.

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

You cannot apply for a standard or enhanced check. These are higher level 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 cannot 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 the Head of Operations at AccessNI and ask for it to be signed.

When your AccessNI Basic certificate is signed, you must apply to the FCO for the document to be legalised.

Working overseas with children or vulnerable adults

In the UK, employers may be required to get an enhanced check before they can employ you to work with children or vulnerable adults.

If you are working abroad, AccessNI will only be able to provide an enhanced check if the company or organisation you work for is UK based and is registered with AccessNI.

If you are going to work with children for a foreign based company or organisation, you can apply for an International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) from the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Record Office. This certificate will not cover you for working with vulnerable adults.

Visit the ACRO website to apply for an International Child Protection Certificate.

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