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How long does it take to process a police check?

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.


The police check conducted across Australia has become an essential Check to licensing agencies, employers and organisations. It enables them to perform a suitability check on the people or agencies they do business with.

Determining how long a police check application takes in Australia depends on the medium through which the candidate applies for the police check.

There are three main mediums of applying for the police check in Australia.

However, people find it more convenient to apply online through accredited service providers like Australian National Character Check.


  • Applying Online

Candidates who complete the police check application online will first receive a soft copy of their police check certificate. It generally takes less than 48 hours to process Police Check applications that are completed and submitted online, unless the application is referred for manual processing. If it gets referred for manual processing then it may take a lot longer.

Online applications tend to be the most convenient and fastest for applicants and employers requesting police checks, especially as the applicant can complete the application anywhere using their mobile, tablet or PC devices.

It also takes less time to complete an online application; form filling, ID submission and payment typically takes less than 15 minutes.


  • Applying through a State or Territory Police Force

The State or Territory Police Forces also issue the police check certificate to all candidates with a successful application. To apply through a police force, you must either visit the Local Police office or any alternative means like their website.

Applying through the police force may be a manual and partly paper based process.

Generally, applicants should allow between 10 and 15 days to get a result.


  • Applying through the Local Post office

The Post office is a postal service for the public and private sectors in Australia. However, candidates may also use it to send an application to the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checking Service.

The process for applying through a Post office may be physical to verify ID documents.

Applicants should allow 5 to 15 to get a police check certificate through a Post office.

Can an online police check application take longer than 48 hours?

The NPCS estimates that over 70% of all police check applications are completed and returned within the specified time, depending on the medium you employ. These applications are usually less complex and require little transfers to other State or Territory police forces for vetting.

Around 30% of the applications may have delays from the complexities or ambiguity in the applicant's details.

There are a lot of factors that can cause a delay in your police check application; most times, it is difficult to tell until the check algorithm begins the checking. Most are delayed because of the need for manual processing.

What can delay my police check in Australia?

Factors that cause delays in a police check and cause people to ask “why is my police check taking so long?” can range from the need for manual processing to technical and common mistakes of the applicant. However, there are no given rules to such things; any of these can cause you a delay in your Police Check application;


  • Manual processing

A police check application is flagged for manual processing if an official of the NPCS has to supervise the police check process personally. It can be a result of many things, including a similar name that matches a person of interest on the national police database.

Applications that get manually reviewed usually take between (5 and 15 business days before they are issued to the candidate.


  • Incomplete information on your application

The Checking system can become stuck if it meets an error on the applicant’s data. Since the check system compares the candidate’s information with those of the Australian Criminal database, it becomes a problem if those fields are not correct.


  • Inaccurate or unclear information

For example, if a candidate has lived in four cities or States in the past, they must indicate it on their police check application.


  • Lots of Police records to contend

The NPCS has a procedure of confirming all completed police check with the Police records. It can result in plenty of "application transfers" if the candidate has lived in many States before the police check application.


  • The candidate has pending charges or court summons

If the NPCS discovers a pending arrest warrant, the court summons or other charges on the person's record, they will transfer it to the Police office and discontinue the automatic Check process. The Police will perform a separate Check to confirm if the person is a Person Of Interest (P.O.I).

Before applying for a police check in Australia, you should ideally settle all;

  • Infringement notices,
  • Court summons,
  • Arrest warrants,
  • Police notices,
  • And any of your other spending records in the Police records.

What can cause a police check to be flagged for manual processing?

While it is not the medium’s or agency’s fault that your application gets flagged for manual review, applicants must take all precautions and apply for their checks well ahead of the time frame when they are required.

Your application may be flagged for manual processing because of;


  • Shared data on your application

Common names are likely to get flagged for manual review than less famous names. There is a very high chance that you share a first name with an offender on the Criminal database if it is a popular name, which can confuse the algorithm of the system.


  • Conflicting information

The system can flag an application as "conflicting" or "unmatchable" if numerous conflicting details are there. If it becomes difficult for the system to classify one or many of the applicant’s information, it will flag it for manual review.


  • Certain criminal records on the check

If the applicant’s information keeps showing some peculiar records and details (e.g. pending court cases), an official may have to supervise the check process before it is finally transferred to the Police for confirmation.

For some records, the check algorithm will discontinue the checking and transfer the document to the Police in the jurisdiction.

Can I prevent my application from being delayed?

The only time to prevent future delays on your application is before you submit your application. When filling your forms, be as explicit and detailed as possible; it helps settle any mess that arises from similarities between applicants and potential findings on the Australian Criminal records.

Furthermore, applicants should back up any information they submit with a valid ID for easy verification. It removes the stress of the applicant getting another request for an ID verification since the previous one was insufficient or not compliant.

Can I know if my application will be delayed?

No, an applicant or the agency cannot foretell which applications will be flagged or delayed. However, online agencies provide good pointers and narrations via the clever software being used on the application form for the candidates to submit a complaint information on the police check application form.

In case of manual processing, ANCC’s system will update you with all the progress and handling of your police check application via the ‘track a check’ feature and also via emails.

It is wrong to assume an accredited service provider or the Local Police office knows beforehand which police check will be flagged for manual review.

I need the police check urgently and it is being delayed

We advise candidates to start their police check application a little closer to the period they need it. Starting your application close to the submission date can be risky in case of a delay or any other extension.

However, if your police check is delayed when the employer or agency requests it, reach out to them.

Does a Delay in my police check mean I failed my police check?

People like to compare a police check as either a "pass" or "fail" document, which is incorrect. That a candidate has a conviction record does not mean they have failed their police check, they can still get what they apply for.

Furthermore, a delay in the police check does not mean that your police check is being updated with plenty of conviction details; it may even turn out to be a technical process at the NPCS.

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.

Copyright & Disclaimer

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?

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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'.

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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.

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

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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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