Police Clearance Certificates

No country wishes to "import" trouble. Most do their best to keep out those with a criminal record. This is done by requiring prospective immigrants to provide Police Clearance Certificates from all countries in which a person has spent an appreciable length of time. This is often as short as six months. Some countries require a clearance certificate only from the current country of residence.

There are basic identifying documents required to obtain a Police Clearance Certificate the most defining of which is a full set of fingerprints, often including the palms and the sides of the hands. Sometimes a certificate can be obtained without fingerprints but this is not normally acceptable for immigration purposes.

Police Clearance Certificates are valid on the day of issue only but most countries accord them a "life" although this can be as short as six months. Not all police forces are as efficient at supplying certificates as are, say, the British. It is possible that certificates already obtained may "expire" before all have been collected if you have lived in a number of countries. This is an unfortunate occurrence because all suppliers of certificates charge for them. There is no standard charge. It may be possible in some cases to have secondary or replacement certificates issued without the production of new supporting documents and without further charge. When this is possible it can usually only be done once. Difficulties also arise when the certificates are required from a country whose police force and/or civil service is less efficient and/or honest than the applicant. Official corruption is always a problem. An indicator of problems can be when a country's diplomatic mission, embassy or consulate will not answer questions on behalf of or intercede for you with, its own police force. In addition to the cost of the certificates themselves and the return mail/courier charges other authorities charge a fee for supplying necessary supporting documents such as birth and marriage certificates. The information given here may be low in cost but some things are not. The cost will be even higher if you let a third party prosecute your case for you and it may, even so, not be successful.

There is further information available at the "Resources" tab on this site and in the book "How to Retire in Colombia" by Les Johns which is obtainable from this site.

Application Requirements

There is no requirement for the provision of police clearance certificates in support of an application for a TP7 termporary visa nor for the subsequent permanent residence visa.This country puts its faith and control in the requirement for current supporting documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas etc). No documents submitted with an application can be more than 90 days old and each must be issued by the original issuing authority. This is an effort to prevent the use of false or forged documents. Further protection for Colombia is afforded by the fact that the TP7 visa is valid for just one year. The visa must then be renewed. A final permanent resident visa is issued only after a TP7 visa has been held for five years. Any criminal history or tendency is likely to have surfaced during this period. It is also likely to be difficult to consistently produce “new” false documents that will pass official scrutiny.

There is no harm in obtaining a police clearance certificate from the country in which an applicant last lived for an extended period - say over six months. It may be useful in the event of a queried identification or a mis-identification. There is no point in obtaining such certificates from all previous countries of residence (as is required by the U.S. Authorities) because of the short official “life” of a certificate. Governments usually accept such certificates so long as they are dated no more than six months earlier than the date of presentation. Also it must be remembered that the cost of obtaining a police clearance certificate is often not small.

Details of the usual requirements to support an application for a police clearance certificate can be seen at the "Resources" tab on this site and in the book "How to Retire in Colombia" by Les Johns which can be bought directly from this site.