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Are police checks Australia-wide?

The information on this webpage is to be read in conjunction with this disclaimer:
Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.


Police checks have permeated the world of work in Australia. Whether you're seeking employment or a professional licence, you will probably require a police check. Police checks are an essential risk mitigation strategy for employers by providing information on an applicant's criminal past. Based on this information, employers can accurately assess candidates' suitability for the role. However, the quality of this decision is based on the comprehensiveness of the check.

With that said, are police checks Australia-wide? Do police checks cover all Australian States and Territories? Do you have to worry about overseas convictions when performing an Australian Police check? This post explores these questions to inform you about the extent of Australian police checks.

A nationally coordinated criminal history check (police check) is an Australia-wide check. Below we explore further details of the check.

But first, what is a police check?

A police check reveals an applicant's criminal history per the legislation of the person's state or territory. These criminal offences include criminal convictions and sentences, indictable offences, traffic offences settled in court, finding of guilt, unexpired good behaviour bonds. Criminal histories on a police check are called Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs).

On the other hand, details that will not appear on a police check include diversionary programs, police cautions, restriction/court orders, no finding of guilt, convictions by agencies other than a legal Australian Court.

Purpose of police checks

The purpose of a police check can fall into any of the following:

  1. Paid Employment
  2. Most Australian employers now require a police check as part of the background check process. This enables employers to assess an applicant's tendencies for crime and make informed hiring decisions.

  3. Probity
  4. Police checks are a requirement when working in positions of trust like a school board member to protect vulnerable people and organisational assets.

  5. Licencing
  6. Some bodies require a police check before giving you a licence. In many instances, you will also need a police check to obtain a public vehicle driver licence.

Understanding the police check process

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) coordinates police checks in Australia. They have access to the police criminal databases across states and territories from which they derive an applicant's criminal history. Hence, it doesn't matter where you applied for a police check. The check will look up your criminal history across Australian States and Territories. This is partly why the Australian police check is called a nationally coordinated criminal history check (NCCHC).

Hence, to answer the question, police checks are Australia-wide!

How the ACIC manages Australia-wide police checks

Do you know that over 5 million police checks are conducted in Australia yearly? Because each check is national, the process can quickly become cumbersome for ACIC to manage alone. Thankfully, the ACIC works with ACIC-accredited agencies and Australian Police Forces to make the police checking service timely, reliable and accessible for Aussies.

✔ ACIC-accredited agencies

ACIC-accredited agencies are independent agencies - like Australian National Character Check - that have access to the National Police Checking Service database. Once the applicant submits their details and identification documents, their details are used to extract their criminal history from the database. The police check certificate details the extracted disclosable court outcomes.


✔ Australian Police Forces

Local police stations across all states and territories can also conduct police checks. Most police stations offer both manual and online checking services. The manual service involves filling out a paper application and submitting the necessary identification documents by mail. The mailing address varies by State or Territory, so do well to check with your territory's police address before you proceed. The online checking service is usually preferred because it is faster.

Do police checks include overseas convictions?

The NCCHC is only Australia-wide, meaning it does not include overseas convictions.

An overseas criminal record will not affect your Australian police check result as long as:

  • You were not on parole in the country.
  • You don't have pending bail conditions.
  • The record is not a pending arrest warrant or court order requiring your presence.
  • It is not a standing order by a Commonwealth court hindering you from applying for a passport.

Hence, most people with overseas convictions do not have legal issues in Australia.

However, in cases where the overseas offence is connected to Australia, it may appear on your police check result. This is particularly true if a Commonwealth court convicted you.

Because of the limitations of the NCCHC, many employers are now also adopting international police checks. That way, they can assess criminal history across different countries.

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The content on this website is communicated to you on behalf of Australian National Character Check™ (ANCC®) pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).

The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction of this material may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act.

You may include a link on your website pointing to this content for commercial, educational, governmental or personal use.

The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.

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A nationally coordinated criminal history check is valid in all States and Territories of Australia.

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About ANCC

ANCC® enables individuals and approved legal entities to apply for a nationally coordinated criminal history check, which is commonly referred to as a national police check. The nationally coordinated criminal history check is valid all over Australia and can be used when applying for Employment, Probity, Licencing, or Commonwealth check purposes. Get discount police checks online. We beat prices!

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