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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about policing or the law? You may be able to find the answer here.

Through our frequently asked questions section we aim to help you find the answers you need without having to call us to ask for information. We've provided answers to questions on a range of topics which are regularly asked of police forces up and down the country.

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There is a scheme for anyone requiring a visa (residential, working or tourist) or wishing to emigrate to one of the following Countries:


If this affects you (if not ignore the rest of this paragraph), you will require a a new form called a Police Certificate. Guidance notes and an application form can be obtained from the following web address: or you can contact the NPCC Criminal Records Office (ACRO) either by email or on 0845 60 13 999 during our office opening hours (8:30-16:30) Monday to Friday.


For other countries - the police can make checks of what is held on their computer systems about individuals and it is known as a subject access request. This is not a criminal records check. The police check will either provide a certificate stating that there is currently no information held about you on the police computer systems or it will provide a list of convictions.

There are three possible ways of obtaining the form. You can write/telephone the force involved and they will post one out to you, if you are outside the UK you can ask a friend or relative to collect one from the local police station in the force area concerned or some forces may have the form on their website that you can download.

By law these checks have to be done in a maximum of 40 days. The cost of one of these types of checks is £10.

The fee needs to be paid in sterling so if you do not have a United Kingdom bank account you would need to ask a friend or relative to pay the fee for you. They would need to send in a cheque with your details to the relevant police force so that the form and the fee can be matched. If you do not have a relative or friend in the UK then you can ask your local bank about an International Money Order (there will probably be a fee) but do not send cash.

You must complete the form yourself as it is your data (unless a child). In order to complete the form you need to provide two forms of identification, one with your name and date of birth and preferably a photograph (passport or driving licence) and the other with your current address or the address you lived at whilst in the UK (a recent utility bill or bank statement). Photocopies are accepted by some forces but not all (check prior to sending) and they must be of a good quality. If there is any suspicion of forgery then the check will not be carried out and the form will be posted back to you.

The form can be sent to your address abroad and it does not cost extra. It is advisable but not obligatory to send the form to the police force whose area you resided in in the UK.

The results are sent out on tamper proof paper and cannot be fast tracked, so apply in plenty of time.

The name of the form and procedure may vary slightly from force to force.

If you still have questions about getting the application submitted, contact the Data Protection Officer at the Force in whose area you presently/last lived for further advice.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.