Appendix A – The Guidelines for Getting a Police Certificate or a Police Check
When foreign nationals apply to become permanent residents or Canadian citizens, they and their family members would need to include police certificates. Sometimes, the visa office might ask foreign nationals to submit police certificates as well. This is especially so if they are applying as visitors, students or temporary workers.
What is a Police Certificate?
A police certificate refers to a copy of the foreign national’s criminal record. It could refer to a statement from the foreign national declaring that the foreign national does not have a criminal record as well. It is worth highlighting that police certificates tend to vary from country to country and territory to territory. They can also go by the names of:
- Police clearance certificates
- Good conduct certificates
- Judicial records extracts or
- Various other names
Who Requires a Police Certificate?
In general, a foreign nationals and all the people in the foreign national’s family who are 18 years or older would need to get police certificates. These individuals would need to obtain police certificates from each country or territory where they have spent six or more months since they attained the age of 18 years. For instance, consider the following situation:
- A foreign national visited, worked or lived in a country for two months
- Then, the foreign national left the country for a few years
- Later, the foreign national returned to the country for four months
- This would mean that the foreign national spent six months in that country
- In this scenario, the foreign national would need to obtain a police certificate
Foreign nationals would need to note that:
- The date of issuance of the police certificate would need to be not more than six months prior to the date of the application if the foreign national is currently living in the same country
- The date of issuance of the police certificate would need to be a date after the last time that the foreign national lived in that country for all countries where the foreign national has lived for six months or more
On occasions, the police certificate could well be in a language other than English or French. In this scenario, the foreign nationals would still need to send their police certificates along with the applications. In addition, they would need to provide the original copy of a translation carried out by a certified translator as well.
How Can Foreign Nationals Obtain Police Certificates?
In most cases, the foreign nationals would need to contact the police for obtaining a certificate. In some cases, they might need to contact the local governmental authorities for this. Foreign nationals might need to obtain police certificates by:
- Providing various documents and information (including photographs, fingerprints or the addresses and dates that they lived in the country or territory) and,
- Paying the relevant fees
Foreign nationals could use the online tool on the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This would enable them to find out how and where they could obtain police certificates in the country where they live. In some cases, the individuals might find that there is no contact information available. In this scenario, they could contact the national police agency. Alternatively, they could contact the consulate or embassy of their country or territory in Canada.
Some foreign nationals might have lived in countries that have since changed their names or status. In this scenario, the police certificate would need to come from the current national authorities of that country. Similarly, some foreign nationals are not able to get a police certificate because they are refugees from that country or for various other reasons. In this scenario, these individuals would need to provide their reasons in writing.
It is worth highlighting that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would be responsible for conducting background checks for all places where the foreign national and the family members of the foreign national have lived. These checks would serve to indicate if the foreign nationals have had any arrests or convictions. At the same time, these checks would serve to highlight whether the foreign nationals are a security risk to Canada as well.