Frequently asked questions

What is a National Police Check?

A National Police Check (NPC), sometimes referred to as a 'police check', involves comparing an individual's details (such as name and date of birth) against a central index of names using a name matching algorithm to determine if the name and date of birth combination of that individual matches any others who have police history information. The name will then be vetted by police personnel to determine what information may be disclosed, subject to relevant spent conviction legislation and/or information release policies.

A National Police Check may be used to help screen and make informed decisions about individuals within the Australian community for many of roles, including but not limited to:

  • recruitment and job applications
  • volunteer and not for profit positions
  • working with children or vulnerable groups
  • licensing or registration schemes applications
  • work-related checks due to legislation or regulations
  • Australian permanent residence and citizenship
  • visa applications for some countries
  • employment overseas

There are a number of purposes for National Police Checks and it is your responsibility to make sure you choose the correct one. It is recommended that you confirm with whoever is asking you to supply the NPC to ensure the purpose you select is correct.

National Police Checks are only done with the consent of the person having the check done.

What is a National Police Certificate?

A National Police Certificate (NPC) is a document that lists an individual's disclosable court outcomes and pending charges (that is, where a person has been charged with an offence but has not yet been to court) sourced from the databases of all Australian police services. Some people refer to this as a person's offender history.

Certain convictions, such as spent or juvenile convictions, may not be disclosed on a NPC in accordance with the legislation and policies of the various police services.

Who can apply for a National Police Check?

Anyone can apply for a National Police Check for their own use. However, if the applicant is under 18 years old the application must be counter-signed by their parent or legal guardian.

If this is not possible, you will need to contact us before lodging your application.

How do I apply for a National Police Check?

There are two ways to apply for a National Police Check with the AFP.

Online application

The online application provides the ability to submit a complete application electronically. In using this facility you will be required to scan and load identification documents and make payment by credit card. Processing will then commence immediately without the need to wait for further information. If using the online application you need to nominate an email address. This will be used to send you a receipt for your payment and to advise you once processing of your application has been completed.

Downloadable application

If you prefer to use the downloadable application, the completed form along with copies of your nominated identity documents and correct payment, must be posted to:

Australian Federal Police,
Criminal Records
Locked Bag 8550
CANBERRA CITY ACT 2601

Please note that credit card details must not be submitted by email. Emailed applications will not be accepted.

Can I have my National Police Certificate application prioritised?

No, the AFP does not prioritise National Police Check applications. For information on timeframes please see FAQ 'How long does it take for a National Police Certificate to be processed and posted to me?'.

You need to allow sufficient time for your check to be processed and received by you.  

I am unable to meet the identification requirements to make an application, what should I do?

If you are unable to meet the identity requirements, you should contact us and depending on your circumstances we may be able to assist.

Can I lodge my completed application form at a police station?

No. Applications may only be made online or by posting the application to us.

How much does a National Police Check cost? How do I pay?

Please see the National Police Checks page for all our fees.

The current cost of a National Police Check provided by the AFP is $42.00. Fingerprint checks (where the applicant supplies the fingerprints) cost $99.00.

Payment may be made by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) or debit card when completing the online application or by credit card or money order/bank cheque when posting an application to us.

Do not send cash through the mail!

Please note that personal or company cheques are not accepted. Any application received with a personal or company cheque will be returned to you.

Can I apply for a National Police Certificate for or about someone else?

No. National Police Checks can only be done with the consent of the person having the check done. There are no exceptions to this.

I'm overseas and need an Australian National Police Check. How can I get one?

If you are overseas, you can apply either online or by posting an application to us. Please allow enough time for the certificate to be received in the mail after it is posted. Australia Post provide estimates for receipt of mail where the recipient is overseas.

Who can apply for a Fingerprint check?

Fingerprint checks may only be conducted where there is a legal or regulatory requirement for such a check to be conducted. For example, the immigration authorities of some countries may require a Name and Fingerprint National Police Check. Similarly, some Australian Government agencies require a Fingerprint check for Security Guard Licensing, adoption etc.

Your fingerprints will be checked against a central database of records and will take additional time to process. An additional cost is associated with this service.

Where a fingerprint check is required, it is your responsibility to obtain a full set of fingerprints from your local police. You should contact your local Police to determine a suitable time to have your fingerprints taken.

The original of the fingerprints must be posted with your completed application form.

If your Fingerprints are sent from overseas and are in a language other than English, please ensure that they are accompanied by an official translation.

Applicants in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) requiring fingerprints should make a booking to have their fingerprints taken by telephoning the ACT Fingerprint Hotline on 02 5126 9121.

Where a Name and Fingerprint National Police Check is required, you cannot use the on-line application.

How long is a National Police Certificate valid for?

Your certificate is valid as of the date of your application and the validity date is stated on your certificate. The AFP cannot verify results after this date. It is up to the organisation requiring the certificate from you as to how long they will accept the certificate for.

How will I receive the result of a National Police Check?

Results are presented in the form of a National Police Certificate and is posted to the name and address specified by the applicant in their application.

How long does it take for a National Police Certificate to be processed and posted to me?

Most National Police Checks are completed and posted within 48 hours of the AFP receiving the application. Name and Fingerprint National Police Checks may take up to 15 business days as the fingerprints you supply need to be examined by AFP Forensic services.

Please be aware that processing times for National Police Checks may vary as the AFP may need to seek information from other police jurisdictions.

We recommend that you allow sufficient time for processing and return by postal services before making inquiries regarding your application.

Please do not contact us before at least 15 business days has passed to enquire about your check.

You will receive an email advising that we have received and are processing your application, as well as an email advising when your application has been finalised and your certificate mailed to you.

How can I check the progress of my National Police Certificate?

As above, most National Police Checks are completed and posted within 48 hours of the AFP receiving the application. Name and Fingerprint National Police Checks may take up to 15 business days as the fingerprints you supply need to be examined by AFP Forensic services.

You should allow for 15 working days before contacting us about the progress of your application. If you haven't received your certificate in this time, please contact us.

I've lost my certificate. Can I get a copy or a reprint?

You will need to contact us. The AFP will only issue reprints of certificates for a period of three (3) months from the original date of issue. After this time you will have to submit a new application.

How do I know the certificate I've received is genuine?

National Police Certificates issued by the AFP are printed on paper which includes a number of security features, including –

  • a watermark consisting of multiple images of a padlock with two keys which is visible when held up to the light
  • fluorescent tricolour threads on both sides of the document glow blue, yellow and red when held under ultra violet light
  • a border to the right of the police logos on the front of the document is printed in microtype which can be read when viewed under magnification
  • images on the front are printed in heat sensitive ink and, when moderate heat or friction is applied, they will fade or disappear momentarily
  • hidden images printed in fluorescent ink and will glow yellow when viewed under ultra violet light
  • screened background printed in solvent reactive ink

Please see a Sample Certificate (PDF, 640KB).

You should not rely solely on a photocopied or scanned and emailed certificate and should always request an original when you are relying on the information to make a decision.

AFP certificates are issued without amendments or erasures. If you have received a certificate that appears to have been tampered with, please contact us immediately!

Can I check what will be on my certificate before I apply?

To maintain the privacy of applicants, we cannot answer specific questions about your records over the phone or by email. We can only provide general information.

If you are unsure of whether or not an offence will be released as a part of a check you should first check with the criminal records section of the Police service in the State or Territory where the offence occurred.

What will be included on my National Police Certificate?

A National Police Certificate lists "disclosable court outcomes" which are released in accordance with Federal, State and Territory legislation including the Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth) and the Spent Convictions Act 2000 (A.C.T.).

Interstate criminal and/or traffic court outcomes will be released on your certificate where they exist.

Matters where a person has been charged but has not yet appeared in court as well as outstanding warrants may also be included.

Both criminal and traffic matters which go to court may be included.

Convictions considered "spent" under state and federal legislation may not be included in the National Police Certificate unless the category of employment or purpose of the check is exempt from any relevant legislation.

Will my offence still be disclosed on my certificate even though I've paid the fine or the good behaviour period is over?

The paying of a fine, completion a community service order or good behaviour period or serving any type of sentence does not have the effect of erasing or otherwise removing an offence from your record. The offence may still be disclosed on your National Police Certificate.

Why do some National Police Checks include "Without Conviction" results?

A result of 'Without Conviction' is still a finding of guilt and is released in accordance with relevant State/Territory or Commonwealth legislation. Some States allow that a result of 'Without Conviction' may be spent before the usual waiting period is served. You need to check with the Criminal Records area in the State where the offence occurred to see if this is the case.

How do I dispute information contained on a National Police Certificate?

If you believe the information provided on your National Police Certificate is incorrect or inaccurate in any detail please complete the Disputed Record form. If you have any additional information or documents supporting your enquiry they should be attached to your Disputed Record Form to enable the AFP to more accurately assess your application.

Applicants must specify the offences or information in dispute and be prepared to provide comparison fingerprints. We will notify applicants in writing if comparison fingerprints are required. No fee will be charged and fingerprints will be destroyed upon resolution of the dispute.

Can I apply to have my offender history record deleted or expunged?

For records of an offence against a Commonwealth or Australian Capital Territory law only those offences against a law which has ceased to be a law may be removed.

The AFP cannot delete, remove or expunge any records held by another Police service. You will need to contact the Criminal Records area in the State or Territory where the offence occurred.

I have received my certificate but my name or date of birth is incorrect

It is recommended that you verify the contents of your National Police Certificate as soon as it is received to ensure that all details are correct. If there is an error with the spelling of your name or your date of birth, please contact us immediately.

Where the error was due to incorrect details entered by you, you will need to submit and pay for a new, correct application.

Where the error was caused by us, we will process a new application at our expense.

Can I use my certificate for more than one purpose?

No. The level of information that is released on a National Police Certificate is determined by legislation and is based on the purpose of the check. For example, a certificate stating the purpose as 'Aged Care staff/volunteers' is not appropriate for a job where there is a requirement for a certificate for 'Immigration Detention Centre Employment'. However the certificate may be used more than once provided that it is for the same purpose. The information contained on the certificate is only current at the date of issue.

Why do I have to provide identification to apply for a National Police Certificate?

Even though certificates issued by the AFP are endorsed 'This document is not issued as a form of identification', to protect the privacy of the applicant we need to be sure that the person applying for the National Police Check is the person named in the application.

Can I lodge an application for child-related employment purposes?

Persons requiring a Working With Children Check (eg a 'Blue Card', 'Ochre Card', 'Working With Vulnerable People Check' etc) for child-related employment purpose should refer to the website of the working with children screening unit in the State or Territory where they live. However, some employers of persons in child-related work may also require a National Police Check to assess the suitability of a person for employment in a particular position. A Working With Children Check clearance only provides that a person may legally work with children – it does not provide the employer with broader information as to a person's probity or suitability for employment. Persons in child-related work may separately apply to the AFP for a National Police Check.

I am applying for permanent residency in Australia, can I apply for a National Police Certificate through the AFP?

Yes. You should select the purpose of your check as 'Immigration/Citizenship – for supply to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection'.

Why do I have to state the purpose of the police check?

The AFP cannot undertake a national police check without the purpose being clearly stated. Due to exclusions contained in Spent Convictions legislation, there may be different results released according to the purpose for which the check is required.

I need my Criminal record for Court. Do I use a National Police Certificate?

No. A National Police Certificate is not suitable for court purposes as it only lists disclosable court outcomes and pending charges which may be subject to Spent Convictions legislation. You should seek independent legal advice if you require your criminal record for court. Production of your criminal record may be facilitated via summons, subpoena or disclosure rules depending on the type of court proceeding.

What do I do if I change my address before receiving my National Police Certificate?

If you change your address before receiving notification that your certificate has been posted, please contact us to change the certificate address. Otherwise, you should contact Australia Post regarding a mail redirection.

I applied for a National Police Check online but forgot to include some details. What should I do?

You should contact us immediately. Do not lodge a new/updated application unless we advise you to.

I just submitted an application online but have found out that I don't need it. Can I get a refund?

No. Once you submit the application processing commences straight away.

It is your responsibility to make sure that the check you've requested is suitable for the purpose you need it for.

I have made an online application through an external service provider/broker (not directly with the Australian Federal Police). How do I follow up on the progress of my application?

The AFP offer National Police Checks through our website (either submitted online or by downloading and posting an application) only. If you have submitted an application for a National Police Check through any other organisation you will have to contact them to follow up on its progress.

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