Delivering Operational Benefits to Law Enforcement
  • Police Certificates - Frequently Asked Questions

     

    These notes apply to applicants wishing to obtain a Police Certificate for immigration purposes.

     

    Click here to download a printable version of these frequently asked questions.

     

     

    Who can apply for a Police Certificate?

    Anyone who has lived in the UK for any length of time, regardless of nationality can apply for a Police Certificate. In some circumstances, you may be required to provide a Police Certificate as part of a visa/emigration process even if you haven’t lived in the UK.

     

    What will show up on my Police Certificate?

    All convictions, warnings, reprimands and cautions recorded on UK Police Systems. When preparing the Police Certificate, we apply the principles of the ACPO Retention Guidelines for Nominal Records on the Police National Computer, which incorporates the Step Down Model. Please note that Scottish convictions are not subject to the Step Down Model.

     

    What do I do if the country I want to go to is not mentioned on the application form?

    We will provide a Police Certificate for any country but cannot offer a refund if the embassy, high commission, consulate or other organisation refuses to accept the Police Certificate.


    We suggest you contact the relevant authority for the country you would like to apply to for a visa. If they confirm that they will accept the Police Certificate, select the relevant country from the drop down on the application form if you are applying online, or add the country to the section marked ‘Country to which you are travelling’ under ‘Other’ if you are completing a paper application.

     

    If I am travelling to more than one country, will I need to make an application for each country?

    No, you only need to make one application. When you complete your application you should select the primary country to which you are travelling and request additional copies for each country to which you will be travelling. Depending on your length of travel, you may wish to check with the relevant embassy, high commission, consulate or other organisation whether your certificate will still be valid when you intend to use it.

     

    If I have lived in different regions of the United Kingdom, or other countries, would I be required to get more than one Police Certificate?

    The Police Certificate provided by ACRO covers the whole of the United Kingdom. Applicants who have lived abroad may be required to provide evidence of good character, the equivalent to a UK police certificate or to disclose their previous criminal history in that other country. Advice should be sought from the relevant embassy, high commission, consulate or other authority that is requesting a Police Certificate.

     

    How long is my Police Certificate valid for?

    There is no set period of time for which the Police Certificate is considered to be valid. The Police Certificate is only truly accurate on the date of issue. Embassies, high commissions, consulates or other authorities will usually require you to produce a Police Certificate which has been issued less than six (6) months before your visa interview.

     

    I have lost my Police Certificate or I need an additional copy, how do I get one?

    ACRO can provide an additional copy of your Police Certificate for a fee of £6.00. If you require an additional copy, please contact the ACRO Customer Services team.You must make this request within 3 months of submitting your application.

     

    If you require another copy and 3 months have passed since you made your initial application, you will be required to submit a fresh application with supporting documentation and the full fee.

     

    Please note that the additional Police Certificate will only show the original date of production, not the date that you requested the replacement copy. You may, therefore, wish to check that this will be accepted by the embassy, high commission, consulate or other authority before contacting ACRO.

     

    Does everybody in my family who is emigrating need to obtain a Police Certificate?

    Each country is different and advice should be sought from the relevant embassy, high commission, consulate or other authority.

     

    If I have a close relative who has a criminal record, will this be mentioned on my Police Certificate? 

    No. Your Police Certificate will only contain information relating to you, the applicant.

     

    Can I pay online?

    If you complete your application online you will have to pay online by either credit or debit card.

     

    If for any reason you cannot apply and pay online you can apply by post. For postal applications you can pay by cheque, bankers draft, bank transfer or Postal Order. Your payment must be in UK Pounds Sterling and made payable to 'PCC for Hampshire'. No other payee details will be accepted. You can arrange for someone else to pay the fee for you if necessary.

     

    What is a banker’s draft?

    This may be known as a treasurer’s cheque or a cashier’s cheque. It is similar to a personal cheque except the money has already been debited from your account by your bank. You must give notice to the bank that you require a banker’s draft (usually 24 hours) so that they can prepare the draft and check that you have enough money in your account.
     
    Your bank may charge for issuing a banker’s draft. You must send the banker’s draft to us (it will look like a cheque). Do not send the receipt, we require the original cheque. For further guidance on making payments by banker’s draft, please see our guidance document.
     

     

    Can more than one paper application be sent in the same envelope with one form of payment for the total amount?

    Yes, providing all the documents are complete and the total payment covers every application made. Any missing items may delay the processing of all the applications.

     

    Will I get a receipt for my Police Certificate?

    If you complete your application online you will receive on-screen confirmation that your payment has been successful, which you can print for your records.

     

    If you are completing a paper application you will not receive a receipt unless you specifically request one when you send in your application. If you do request a receipt, this will be sent once your payment has cleared.

     

    What will happen if I pay too much for my Police Certificate?

    If you pay by cheque, banker’s draft, Postal Order or bank transfer and overpay by less than £10.00, where possible we will upgrade your service (e.g. enhanced postal service or extra copy of your certificate). If this is not possible we will donate any remaining money to charity. If you overpay by £10.00 or more, we will contact you to arrange a refund or to obtain your agreement to donate the overpaid amount to charity. All refunds will be paid in UK Pounds Sterling.

     

    Can I email or fax my application to you?

    No, you must either complete your application online or send it to us by post.

     

    Can you email my certificate to me? 

    No. We do not send certificates electronically.  All certificates are sent by post to the address you have specified on your application form. 

     

    How will my certificate be dispatched?

    Free: ACRO will send your Police Certificate by 1st class postage to UK addresses or standard airmail to overseas addresses, and this is included in the service fee. The following optional services are available on request and can be specified in your application:

     

    Enhanced delivery: £9.00 per return address 

    For information about how we dispatch to a UK address, please click here. Please note that we cannot request deliveries on a Saturday for UK enhanced items. The 1pm delivery time is not guaranteed for remote locations throughout the UK.

     

    For information about how we dispatch to addresses outside of the UK, please click here.

     

    International courier: £48.00 per return address

    Police Certificates dispatched by International Courier will be collected on the day of dispatch and delivered as per the courier's (City Sprint) timetable. This guide is an approximation based on urban centres within each country. Delivery to areas further away will take longer due to the additional distance. Any remote area destinations (villages in third world countries, remote islands etc.) are subject to limited services as the carriers will often only collect or deliver to these locations once or twice per week.

     

    Please note that international courier is not available for PO Boxes (except for the United Arab Emirates and the Cayman Islands).

     

    Can I courier my application to you?

    Yes, you can courier paper applications to us. Please use the following address:

     

    ACRO, c/o Citysprint

    Unit 2, Solent Estate

    Shamblehurst Lane

    Hedge End

    Southampton

    SO30 2FX

    United Kingdom

     

    Please note: courier companies can not deliver directly to ACRO. Also, courier deliveries can not be accepted at either of the ACRO PO Box addresses.

     

    Can you courier my Police Certificate to me at a UK delivery address?

    No, International Courier is not available for addresses in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

     

    Can you courier my Police Certificate to me at an international delivery address?

    If the delivery address is outside the United Kingdom the fee is £48.00 sterling (per delivery address). Please complete the relevant section of the application form and enclose the additional payment with your application. You will need to provide at least one telephone number in the Contact Details section, which we will provide to the courier company so that they can contact you regarding delivery.

     

    The delivery times will depend on the flight availability in the country where your documents are to be sent.

     

    Please note that ACRO is unable to provide confirmed delivery dates or timescales for courier services.  Any use of an incoming courier service is a contract between the applicant and the courier company.

     

    I wish to submit multiple applications; our preferred method of delivery for our Police Certificates is international courier. We would like them all to be returned to the same address. Can we pay one courier for everyone or do we have to pay separately?

    Yes. If you are applying by post and you want your Police Certificate returned to the same address by international courier with other Police Certificates you need to provide details in Section 10 of the application form (Additional Information). You must specify which other application(s) you would like yours to be returned with. If you provide these details you will only have to pay one courier fee.

     

    If you are applying online, you will need to select the international courier option for the lead application. The Lead applicant will then need to add each additional applicant’s name into the additional details field in Step 4 - Additional Information, and state that they want their application to be couriered with these other applicants. Once the lead applicant has submitted their application, they will receive an acknowledgement email from Worldpay with a reference number. All other applicants who want their Police Certificates returned with the lead application to the same address will need to select the free option for postage, add the Worldpay reference number to the additional details field (Step 4) and state that they want their application to be couriered with the lead applicant’s Police Certificate.

     

    I have already submitted my application form and I now want my Police Certificate to be sent back to me via courier. How do I arrange this?

    Please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team who can organise this for you, as long as your Police Certificate has not already been dispatched. The international courier fee is £48 and you must pay for this service when you make your request to change the delivery option.

     

    What happens if my certificate is lost in the post?

    The certificate fee only includes the price for 1st Class UK post or standard airmail. If you have opted for standard UK 1st class mail or standard airmail, ACRO cannot be held responsible for items lost or delayed in the post or by third party delivery companies. In these cases, please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team. Replacement Police Certificates can be reproduced and sent by 1st class post or standard airmail for a fee of £6.

     

    If you have selected your Police Certificate to be returned by either courier or enhanced delivery, please report the loss to the ACRO Customer Services Team. Replacement Police Certificates sent by enhanced postal services will incur a fee in addition to the £6 fee per certificate mentioned above.

     

    For 1st class UK post or standard airmail, we may send replacement Police Certificate(s) free of charge if your certificate has not been delivered within the following timescales:

     

    UK 1st class post – allow 8 working days*

    European standard airmail – allow 10 working days*

    Rest of the World standard airmail – allow 20 working days*

    UK Enhanced post – allow 15 working days*

    International Enhanced post – allow 25 working days*

    * Mon – Sat, excluding Bank Holidays.

     

    If your Police Certificate was dispatched by enhanced mail we will check the delivery status before we consider issuing another certificate free of charge.

     

    If ACRO have dispatched your Certificate(s) to the address you provided, we will only issue replacement certificates by standard post. ACRO will not pay for enhanced post or International Courier delivery.

     

    Please note that re-issued Police Certificates will show the original date of production, not the re-issue date. You may wish to check that this will be accepted by the embassy, high commission, consulate or other authority before contacting ACRO.

     

    If you fail to notify ACRO that your Police Certificate has not been delivered after more than 3 months from the date of dispatch, ACRO will not issue a replacement and you will need to re-apply.

     

    How do I know that the Police Certificate is genuine?

    The Police Certificate has been designed with anti-tamper technology and features a photograph of the applicant, a unique reference number and unique serial number, along with several other security features which cannot be duplicated. If you are concerned about the authenticity of the Police Certificate, please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team.

     

    If you have obtained a copy of the application form from anywhere other than our website please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team to ensure that you have the most up to date version. We do not operate through any private agencies, only the applicant can apply directly to us.

     

    I live abroad and cannot prove my UK addresses. What can I do?

    If you live abroad you do not have to prove your UK addresses. You only have to prove your current address and inform us of your previous UK addresses over the past TEN (10) years.

     

    How can I prove my current address?

    Proofs of address can be anything official that has reached you at your current address and bears your name. We accept copies of documents from ‘official bodies’ e.g. bank statements, letters from a GP, letters from a school or college, utility bills, phone bills etc. Ideally they should be for different months and in all cases should not be more than six months old.  

     

    I do not have any proofs of address in my name at the address where I currently live. What can I do?

    If you do not receive mail addressed to you, we can accept:

     

    TWO proofs of the address in the name of the householder dated within the last 6 months, together with a letter written by the householder confirming that you have no proofs in your own name but that you reside with them.

     

    OR TWO documents taken from the following list. Documents must have been issued within the last 6 months:

     

    A letter from your employer on company headed paper confirming your current address as per their records.

    A tenancy agreement, rent payment receipts or a letter from a letting agent confirming your current address.

    A driving licence, ID card or passport page showing your current address.

    A letter from your bank on headed paper confirming your current address as per their records.

     

    Please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team if you are still unable to provide sufficient documents to satisfy these requirements.

     

    All my post goes through a PO Box. How can I prove the address at which I currently live?

    If your post goes through a PO Box then you can provide two proofs of address with your PO Box address on. You will also need a letter from either your bank or employer stating both your PO Box address and your physical address. Alternatively you can provide a tenancy or similar agreement showing the address where you actually live, to accompany the two PO Box proofs of address.

     

    All my post goes through a BFPO. How can I prove the address at which I currently live?

    If you have a UK forces address (BFPO) then you can provide two proofs with your BFPO address on. Alternatively you can provide a letter from your commanding officer to confirm you have a UK forces address.

     

    I do not have a National Insurance Card/National Insurance Number. Can I still apply?

    Yes. If you do not have a National Insurance number you can still apply. You only need to provide a National Insurance number if you are a UK resident and you are over the age of 16.

     

    I do not have a UK Driving Licence. Can I still apply?

    Yes. If you do not have a UK driving licence you can still apply. You only need to provide your Driving Licence number if you are a UK resident and you are in possession of one.

     

    Who can endorse my application?

    Your application needs to be endorsed by an individual who has known you for a minimum of 2 years, is 18 years of age or older and is not a family member or related to you. A list of preferred endorser occupations is available here.

     

    I don't know anyone who can endorse my application in the country I'm living in. What do I do?

    You do not need to live in the same country as your endorser as long as they have known you for a minimum of two years, they are 18 years of age or older and are not a family member or related to you.

     

    I don't know anyone from the list of endorsers. Who can endorse my application? 

    Please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team.

     

    How will I know if there is a problem with my application?

    Our Customer Services Team will contact you by e-mail in the first instance. If we get no response, we will leave a telephone message if possible and/or send a follow up email to the email address given on the application form. If we still get no response, we will send a letter. Queries can usually be resolved quickly once we are able to contact you so it is important that you monitor your personal inbox, including spam mailboxes.

     

    Your application will not be processed until all queries have been satisfactorily resolved.

     

    What is the difference between an ACRO Police Certificate and an ACRO Subject Access disclosure?

    A Police Certificate is issued mainly for immigration purposes. A Subject Access disclosure will provide an applicant with details of personal data held about them on the Police National Computer (PNC).

     

    A Police Certificate is needed if you require a work or residency visa for countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cayman Islands, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. In the case of the USA you will also need a Police Certificate for holiday purposes if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any offence, no matter how long ago it was.

    I have a DBS (formerly CRB) Certificate. Can I use that instead of the Police Certificate? 

    The following embassies and high commissions,  Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cayman Islands, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States of America  will only accept the ACRO Police Certificate.

     

    Do the DBS filtering rules apply to Police Certificates?

    No. The DBS filtering rules determine what information should be disclosed in certificates issued by the DBS for employment purposes under Part V of the Police Act 1997. This applies to vetting for employment in the UK only.

     

    The information disclosed in a Police Certificate is determined through the application of the Step Down Model as set out in 'ACPO Retention Guidelines for Nominal Records on the Police National Computer'.

     

    Can I use the ACRO Police Certificate for employment purposes or for security checks?

    No, the ACRO Police Certificate can only be used for submission to the relevant embassy, high commission, consulate or other authority.

     

    If I contact ACRO by telephone or email can you tell me what is on the Police National Computer before I send in my application or before I receive my Police Certificate? 

    No, to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act we are unable to check the Police National Computer in advance of an application being made. We cannot advise on specific cases without the application being logged with us.

     

    What if I have a complaint?

    If you have a complaint regarding the service provided by ACRO, please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team by email to customer.services@acro.pnn.police.uk or by letter to ACRO, PO Box 481, Fareham, Hampshire, PO14 9FS, UK. We will endeavour to acknowledge your complaint within two working days of receipt and we will endeavour to resolve your complaint within 28 days.

     

    If your complaint concerns the content of your certificate i.e. you dispute the recorded information, please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team in the first instance. However, if the information on the certificate is confirmed as a correct record of the entry on the Police National Computer or other law enforcement systems, you will be referred to the data owner, which is usually the police force or agency that created the record.

     

    I have read all of the above FAQs but I have not been able to find the answer to my question. What should I do? 

    If the information you seek is not provided above, please contact the ACRO Customer Services Team, who will be happy to assist you with your query.