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How long does a police 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.

Conducting a background check is synonymous with almost all applications in Australia. There are just very few cases in Australia where applicants do not include a police check in their applications.

Candidates need the police check for;

  • Paid employments,
  • Obtaining Licenses
  • Probity,
  • Accreditation processes,
  • And other valuable applications in Australia

However, the big challenge for applicants is getting their police check earlier or close to the period they need it. The high influx of applications to the NPCS can sometimes make the general issuance time slower, which is a problem for some applicants.

How long does the police check take?

It depends on where or how you apply for the police check; the various methods may have lagged due to their procedure. However, the fastest means of applying for a police check in Australia is through accredited online service providers.

  • Applying Online

Online applications tend to be the easiest and fastest, whether it is for an organisation or a candidate. All procedures can be completed online, which even makes it faster compared to physical methods.

Candidates who have a rigid schedule should use mostly the online method as it can be completed anywhere using a PC, mobile or tablet device.

Businesses can also streamline the process for the police check application through the Business Portal of the ANCC. It allows the organisation to manage, track and view the police check result from a single account anywhere in the world. However, this must be with the informed consent of the candidate.

Applications filed and completed online generally take less than 48 hours to complete unless they are referred for manual processing.

  • Applying through a State or Territory Police Force

The State or Territory police forces issue a police check to all candidates who apply through the Local Police office. Applying through the local police office may be a physical process and may require paper-based copies of the application form and ID verification for the criminal record check.

Applications through the Local Police office generally take 10 to 15 business days before the applicant receives their certificate.

  • The Post office

Candidates can submit their applications through the post office in Australia when they cannot reach any of the above means. The Post office transfers the candidate's details to the NPCS and issues the police check certificate when it is ready.

Generally, it is faster to apply for a police check through any online means than to apply physically using paper based forms.

What delays a police check process?

Most applicants who have completed their forms without glitches get their police check certificate issued to them within the specified time. The NPCS roughly put this number at 70% regardless of how they have applied.

However, the other 30% usually experience some delays in their process for various reasons.

The significant reason for extended Checking is manual processing for a nationally coordinated criminal history check result.

  • Manual Processing

There are some glitches that the system or check algorithm cannot fix while processing a police check. When it occurs, an official of the national checking service will have to supervise the check process and flag it for a manual review.

Manual review is undesirable; it is a delay that an applicant can experience. The manual review process can delay the application by an additional 5 to10 business days in addition to the expected date.

  • Inaccurate/Insufficient information

The NPCS run the details in the applications submitted to them by the Database that holds all Australian Criminal records. Therefore, inaccurate information will affect the application process and may result in the NPCS requesting further clarification from the person.

  • Plenty of Police jurisdiction to confirm with

After checking an application, the NPCS forwards the data to the Police records in the jurisdiction to confirm for (Person Of Interest) P.O.I. However, doing this for multiple jurisdictions will significantly increase the checking period and extend the time for issuance.

This problem happens mostly when the applicant has resided in various States/Territories within a short period.

  • Where the applicant has a pending court summons or warrant

The NPCS system will flag your application if they find pending court summons, arrest warrants or other court notices against your profile. They will report and forward your application to the necessary Police jurisdiction for confirmation and necessary actions.

Applicants should settle all their infringements, notice, orders and other pending accounts with the Police or the court before applying for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check certificate.

What causes Manual Reviews/processing?

The common factors that can cause an application to get flagged for manual processing are;

  • Common shared data

Applicants who bear common names like Jim, Tim, Jack, Williams, Douglas, and so on are more likely to get their offences flagged. To prevent this, applicants should always provide extra and helpful information on their police check application.

Most times, the checking algorithm may find it confusing to compare between both applications.

  • Incomplete details

Where the applicant leaves some field blank, the check algorithm may discontinue the check process. Since it is just an algorithm, it is only doing what it is programmed for; it cannot help candidates complete their police check application.

  • Complicated addresses

Applicants must list all the residences or places they have stayed in Australia. The NPCS still have to forward all Check results for Police vetting in the various jurisdictions the applicant has stayed.

Applications without complete addresses may be abandoned or take a long time if the NPCS asks for verification.

  • Period if a high influx

There are specific periods when the NPCS can get overwhelmed by the number of police check applications. Although this does not often happen, when it does, the applications can get slightly delayed.

Can I tell if my application will be delayed?

No service provider, applicant or even official can tell which application will be delayed before the process; flagging an application for manual processing or other factors is a random activity and will depend on the applicant’s name, date of birth and addresses.

When applying for a nationally coordinated criminal history check certificate, make sure to cross-check all the information you submit and provide a credible ID for verification.

What do I do if my application gets delayed?

The ANCC usually notifies all their applicants if there will be delays in their police check application. When it happens, our system provides updates about the status of their check via the ‘Track a Check’ feature and answers all questions through the customer service team.

However, the applicant can do nothing while their application is delayed or reviewed; they can only wait patiently and continue getting updates from the agency.

How long does a police check last?

The police check does not have a specified expiry date; applicants can use them until both parties agree that the details have become obsolete. Since the police check certificate is based on the applicant’s criminal records, requesting parties may consider them “obsolete” if the applicant does not update them.

Most employers, organisations and agencies fix three months as the age limit of the police check certificate they accept. They are also right to refuse you the role if it is stipulated in their internal policies.

When should I obtain a police check certificate?

We advise that you obtain a police check close to applying for the role or job that requires it. However, you must be careful not to apply too close to the period or risk your application being delayed, and the Employer disqualifies or extends the period.

Also, your application should not be too far apart as it may become obsolete (3 months) before the Employer needs or assesses it.

What does a police check reveal?

If you are expecting your police check, there is no need to fret about the details. It does not display records apart from those on your criminal records. Also, not all your criminal records may be disclosed; the jurisdiction may decide against releasing a particular record.

The details released on your criminal history check certificate usually have a lot of relevance to the role or purpose of the background check. This is why employment Police checks cannot be used in a License police check and vice versa, even when they tell the same information.

Generally, the information revealed on a police check certificate are;

How can I obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?


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 of approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal for the purpose of police checks.

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 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.

Why use ANCC?


Fast online application form

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'.


Australian based support team

All of our staff are based in Canberra, ACT. All data is stored securely in Australia. Each application is checked in accordance with Federal Government guidelines. Support staff are available from Monday to Friday 9AM to 5PM.


Top rated national police check provider

ANCC is amongst the highest rated employment background check providers. Refer to ANCC's Google Reviews and Product Reviews.


Guaranteed to be valid Australia wide

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

Need discount police checks? We beat prices!

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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Book in a free consultation with us to discuss your organisation's employment background check needs, or to get an overview of the ANCC Business Portal.