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Retirement Abroad

Criminal Records

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

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 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 some authorities charge a fee for supplying necessary supporting documents such as birth and marriage certificates. The information given in this site may be free 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.