When a person applies for Canadian citizenship or permanent residence, they must obtain a police certificate – sometimes known as a background check or police clearance. There are no exceptions to this rule. The government of Canada wants to see whether a person has any criminal convictions in their past. If the person does have a criminal conviction, then their chances of immigrating to Canada become very small.

fingerprint police certificate

Police certificates are time sensitive.

Important Points About Police Certificates

  • If you are 18 or older, you need a police certificate.
  • Police certificates are required from all countries where you have spent 6 months or more since the age of 18.
  • Note that the 6 months is cumulative. Example: if you lived in South Africa for 3 months, left for a year, then lived there for another 3 months, this totals six months. You will need a South African police certificate.
  • Some countries, like Australia, do not have one comprehensive police background check. Instead, they have them from the state level and the federal level. Be sure to get both. Missing one can result in a refusal of your immigration application.
  • If you are living in another country, or received the certificate before leaving, the police certificate must have been issued within six months of applying for permanent residency or citizenship.
  • If the certificate is from a past country, it must have been issued after you left that country. Most such clearances will only be valid for one year, after which you will need to get a new one.

How To Get A Police Certificate

The Canadian government provides a list of places in various countries where you can obtain a police certificate. Generally speaking, to get a police certificate, you are likely to be fingerprinted, photographed, and asked to produce various documents. Ask your local officials about any documentation you might need.

Check with a certified immigration consultant or lawyer about where and how to submit a police certificate with your immigration documents. With police certificates, time is of the essence. Any delays could put you back at the start.