Spent conviction laws & police checks

Some older convictions might not appear on your National Police Certificate.

Spent conviction laws

Every Australian state or territory has laws that limit the release of some older offences. It's usually 10 years for offences committed as an adult, and 5 years for offences committed as a child.

This is known as the 'waiting period' or 'crime-free period'.

If you offend during that period, it starts again. This means you need to be crime-free for the full waiting period before your older offences are considered 'spent'.

In general, your National Police Certificate (NPC) won't disclose any spent convictions. But there are exceptions.

Some Australian states and territories might exclude some purposes of an NPC from their spent convictions laws. These purposes include working:

  • in aged care or with older people
  • with children
  • as a teacher or teacher's aide
  • with, or caring for, people with disability
  • in an immigration detention centre
  • in a hospital
  • in firefighting or fire prevention.

Other purposes that may be exempt from spent convictions laws include:

  • applying for a firearms permit
  • immigration or citizenship applications
  • some government security clearances
  • some overseas employment
  • taxi, rideshare or bus driver accreditation.

For these reasons, your certificate may disclose details of older convictions or guilty findings.

Exceptions may also apply in some instances in relation to the type of offence, such as sexual offences.

Each state or territory policing service will follow its own release policy and local laws when disclosing any offences.

The process will happen automatically in most states and territories if an offence is spent. You don't need to contact us or take any action.

However, if the offence happened in Western Australia (WA), you'll need to apply to the WA Police to have it spent. Scroll to 'spent convictions' on the WA Police website.

Commonwealth and ACT spent conviction laws

We release information for NPC checks under either Australian Capital Territory (ACT) or Commonwealth legislation. This depends on the:

  • purpose of your check
  • nature of your offences.

Commonwealth laws

It's against the law to access, disclose or take into account spent convictions of Commonwealth offences.

Under the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme, a 'spent conviction' is a Commonwealth, territory, state or foreign conviction that satisfies all of the following:

  • It has been 10 years since your conviction, or 5 years if you were convicted as a child.
  • You were not sentenced to imprisonment, or not sentenced to imprisonment for more than 30 months.
  • You haven't reoffended during those 10 years, or 5 years for juvenile offenders.
  • There is no statutory or prescribed exclusion that applies.

If your conviction is spent, you don't have to disclose it to anyone, including a Commonwealth authority, unless an exclusion applies.

If you disclose such information, it can't be taken into account. For example, if you say something in a job interview, your prospective employer can't use it to assess your suitability for the job.

ACT laws

Under ACT legislation, your conviction is automatically spent after:

  • 10 years if you were convicted as an adult
  • 5 years if you were convicted as a child.

The period starts from either the date:

  • you complete your sentence
  • you complete your control order, such as a good behaviour bond.

If you aren't sentenced to imprisonment or a control order, it starts from the date of your conviction.

Some convictions are never spent. These include convictions:

  • where you served more than 6 months in imprisonment
  • for sexual offences
  • of a corporation
  • that are prescribed under the regulations.

If your conviction is spent, you don't have to disclose it unless an exclusion applies.

It's an offence for someone to disclose information regarding spent convictions without your consent.

This means it's against the law for someone:

  • who has access to your criminal record to disclose a spent conviction
  • to fraudulently or dishonestly get information about a spent conviction.

Your privacy

Under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), information about your criminal record is sensitive.

Read more information about your right to non-disclosure of spent convictions from the

Office of the Privacy Commissioner

Get in touch

Get help with spent convictions and national police checks

National Police Checks

Australian Federal Police
Criminal Records
Locked Bag 8550

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