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Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics Police Checks How long does a nationally coordinated criminal history check take?

How long does a nationally coordinated criminal history check take?

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.


How long your criminal history application takes ultimately depends on various factors in the national checking process.

Most Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks are dispatched to applicants within 24 to 48 hours, with the remainder that get referred for manual processing taking longer.

Applicants can obtain a nationally coordinated criminal history check online for a base price of $48.90. Payment options include debit card, credit card or PayPal.

Below, we talk about the various factors that determine how long a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check takes.

What are the different mediums to apply for the Criminal history Check in Australia?

Depending on the applicant or the "Purpose" of the police check, applicants can apply through any of these mediums;


  • Online Application

Applying online tends to be the most convenient and fastest means of applying for a nationally coordinated criminal history check. Not only does this method make it easier to apply from anywhere in the world, but you can also complete an application within 15 minutes.

When applying online, the candidate only needs an internet-active device like; P.C., Tablet or mobile device. The application details and process are entirely online on the portals of an accredited service provider like Australian National Character Check (ANCC).

Generally, Online applications are completed within 24 to 48 hours, with the check certificate sent to the candidate via email when it is ready. If the check requires manual processing, it will take up to 15+ business days and this is not within the control of the service provider.


  • Applying through the Australian Police Forces

The local State and Territory police forces issue valid Criminal history check certificates to successful applicants who apply through the local police office. Since the application process at the local Police office may be manual or paper-based, application time can take longer.

Typically, the candidate must visit the physical centre or the website of the Police office in any jurisdiction in Australia before they can “Start a Criminal History Check’ application.

It takes an average of 10 business days before candidates get their Criminal History Check certificate from the Australian Police Forces.


  • Applying through the Local Post office

The Post office transfers documents each day to various locations across Australia and can do the same with a police check Applications.

The applicant can request the application form, fill and complete the documents, including the I.D.s. The post office will send it back to the N.P.C.S for a result. The post office may require you to physically visit the post office to verify identification documents.

Does the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check processing take long?

The process for a police checking is usually straightforward unless there are errors in the applicant’s informed consent form.

When the central government agency receives the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check application, they run a basic computer check of the applicant's profile against the records on the Australian criminal database. The Check system scans through millions and Gigabytes of data at fast processor speeds and returns the result within seconds if there is no potential match or error in the application.

If there is a potential match, the result from the check system is then passed through the various Police jurisdictions from all areas (States and Territories) the candidate has resided.

Where there is a potential match

The Check result is sent to the Police jurisdiction/s to Check if they are of interest (P.O.I.) to the State records. The State jurisdiction also applies any scheme or relevant legal programmes that apply to the offence; Some of these programmes include;

  • Where the original violation is decriminalised,
  • Where a bond duration has successfully expired,
  • Any other conviction the court considers necessary,
  • Determine if the offence is disclosable.

At the end of the Police vetting, the candidate will receive their Criminal History Check as either having a;

Is it possible for a police check to get delayed?

Over 70% of the Criminal history Check applications to the NPCS are returned to the applicants within the average time. The remaining 30% of the application are delayed by a few days for some complexities in the process.

Your police check certificate may get delayed if there are errors in the application or complexities in the check. And when there are delays in the application, there is usually little the applicant can do about it.

What are the causes of delays in the History Check?

Like most background checks, the bulk of errors and delays usually come from;

  • Misspelled entries,
  • Incomplete IDs,
  • Non-verifiable information, and many more factors.

Where there are inconsistencies in your Check, you will get a request for further information from the service provider that is processing your check. Alternatively, the check algorithm may suspend or pause the checking until an official comes to supervise the process.

Some factors that cause a delay with the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check application form are;


  • Unclear information in the application form

Since a machine does the check, it can hardly sort between accurate or erroneous information. If the check considers some information false, it may suspend the check entirely to avoid further issues.

An example could be where the applicant erroneously states the same date for different States or Territories they have resided.


  • Incomplete information

All information submitted to the NPCS must be clear, complete and explicit where possible. To avoid nuances, indicate the full address (if there are places that share the same address).

If the check system cannot distinguish between two pieces of information, it may halt the process until it is sorted. This can delay the process by how long it takes to correct such information.


  • Where lots of State jurisdictions will vet the applicant's Check result

If the check algorithm finds a potential match for the applicant's information, they will still submit them to the respective Police jurisdiction to verify for (Person of Interest). Now imagine how complex this can become where the person has lived in at least 4 States or Territories within the last five months.

The inter-organisational delays in transferring these records can add to a police check in Australia.


  • Pending Charges or Infringements on the candidate’s records

If the applicant is of urgent interest to the law, the Police will have to confirm the records and apprehend the applicant. The Police may also suspend the Criminal History Check of the candidate until they have satisfied the pending infringements.

What is Manual processing?

30% of the applications that get delayed are usually caused by "manual processing" on the application. Where the check system cannot comprehend or continue with an application, it will flag such an application for a human official to correct it manually.

There are various reasons for an offence to get flagged for manual processing. And it in no way means that such applicants have failed their Criminal History Check.

Your Criminal History Check can be flagged for manual processing if;


  • You share vital information with another profile on the criminal record.

It is not a surprising thing to find people who share the same First and Last name. However, it can get confusing for the check system if there is no further information that can separate both profiles during the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Cases like this are why applicants must provide more than enough data for the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check application.


  • Complexity in the application

The system can become overwhelmed or return an error if too many conflicting details on the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check application. For such cases, the checking process is paused, and then a human official has to supervise the check.


  • Recurring matches in the check

If the system encounters specific details on the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check, it will flag the application immediately for Manual processing. The human official, in this case, will have to sort and differentiate between the data.

Does the delay change the issuance date on the certificate?

Yes, your Criminal history Check result will bear the original date you got the certificate and not when it was lodged. The date of issuance is the most important date of any Criminal History Check result, and it shows the period from when the certificate begins to be valid.

Is there a faster way to apply for the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

While we understand that delays can be unwanted, they can be avoided in some circumstances. If you make a compliant application with your complete and valid identity document, your application cannot be unnecessarily delayed.

There is generally no quicker method to obtain a police check than applying for the check online through approved service providers.

Also, cross-checking your applications before finally submitting them can save you delays and application issues with the police check.

How do I know if my application will be delayed?

There is no way to know if your application gets delayed before the application. Delays generally only arise during the application through any of the factors listed above. However, suppose there are delays to your Criminal History Check. In that case, ANCC’s “track a check” system will give you real-time updates about the reasons for such delays and an updated estimated time for getting your Criminal History Check.

Applicants can also use our "Track a Check" option to monitor the progress of their application.

I need to submit a police check within the next 48 hours

If you have to submit a police check within the next 48 hours, your best bet is to apply through the online method. Approved service providers like ANCC offer online application services for candidates who want to access the application portal anywhere in Australia.

However, if your C.H.C. is delayed and you need it urgently, the best option is to reach out to the requesting party and update them about such changes. You can also provide proof from the “Track the check” result you obtain on the portal of the ANCC.

Does a delay in a police check means I failed the check?

There is no known correlation between a "failed" Criminal history check and the delay in the processing. The delays from a C.H.C. can be from various reasons

If you're C.H.C. application is taking longer than usual, there is no need to panic about the records on your Criminal History Check.

How long does the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (C.H.C.) last?

The certificate issued at the end of a check only contains the issuance date, which can confuse the applicant whether the certificate expires. Most are right to claim that a police check does not expire as it does not infer such; however since a criminal history check is a “point in time check” the record can become obsolete after a certain period of time.

However, most agencies and organisations hardly collect Criminal records older than three months. They believe that a background check should be current and regular, especially if the candidate's record changes on the Australian Criminal Database.

Almost all organisations accept "3 months" as the limit age of the Criminal Check certificate they accept regardless of the role.

What happens if my police checks expire?

If your Criminal History Check is considered outdated, it is time to get a renewal of your check. Renewals can be done in the same method and process for the original Check application.

What if I need a hard copy for my police check?

Most C.H.C. applications return with a soft copy sent to the email of the applicants.

However, if they prefer a hard copy, they can request it from the agency that issued them the soft copy of the check.

Applying for the hard copy of your Criminal History Check may cost an additional fee.

What comes up in a police check?

When your Criminal History Check finally arrives, you should know what details to expect in the result. Not all convictions appear in a C.H.C. result unless issued by an Australian court within the scope of Australian laws.

For example, Overseas convictions will not appear on your criminal history check. The only time an overseas conviction may appear on your Criminal History Checks is if the offence involved an Australian law or jurisdiction.

The offences that appear on the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check are known as the Disclosable Court Outcomes, and they include;

How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

Individuals

If you are an individual, you can obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate online via Australian National Character Check’s police check application and informed consent form. The results are dispatched via email.

Business and Enterprise Customers

Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ criminal history check results on their business portal. Organisations will undergo a process for approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal.

ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.

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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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The online application form can be completed in a few minutes online. 70% of results are dispatched in 24 hours. Approximately 30% can take longer than 15 days due to a 'potential match'.

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

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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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