British nationals requiring a UK criminal records check for residency or citizenship overseas
Guidance for British Embassies
British nationals living overseas may be asked to provide a criminal records check as part of an application for residency or citizenship in that country.
The method available for them to do so is to apply for an ACRO Police Certificate.
The certificate is used mainly for immigration purposes for people who want to emigrate or obtain a visa for certain countries.
For British nationals who are already abroad and seeking residency or citizenship, the certificate is the most appropriate method available for authorities in those countries to certify a person’s criminal record in the UK or confirm no trace.
How Police Certificates work
Anybody who has lived or worked in the UK is eligible to apply for an ACRO Police Certificate, which they can do so online via this website.
Applicants can choose either a standard service at a cost of £45, or a premium service at £80.
Note: the price of a Police Certificate will increase in January 2020.
The certificate is sent directly to the applicant only, not to the embassy or other authority.
It provides authenticated details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands, warning and conditional discharges in line with the ACRO step-down model.
It also includes any impending prosecutions and offences that are under investigation. There may also be details of foreign criminal history information where it has been disclosed to the UK.
The product itself includes security measures that mean the authorities can verify the authenticity of individual certificates directly with ACRO.
Types of certificate
The applicant receives one of four types of certificate:
- No Trace: There are no convictions, cautions, reprimands/warnings or conditional discharges
- No Live Trace: There is a criminal record but this information does not appear on the certificate because it has been stepped down
- Trace: There is a criminal record and all the information has been disclosed
- Further information stepped down: There is a criminal record, however only relevant criminal record information appears on the certificate as some information has been stepped down
No-trace certificates are the most common type. Please find an example of no-trace certificate for your reference.