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What does a police check involve in Australia?

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 is one of the essential background checks a candidate can apply for in Australia; it goes beyond exposing their criminal records and may reveal the relevance of such roles to the license or position they seek.

There are many reasons you may need to obtain your police check in Australia, especially the fact that numerous Australian agencies and employers now adopt it. You will likely need a police check certificate anywhere you are in Australia, whether as;

It also includes all job roles and positions and functions that fall under any of these.

Can I do a police check by myself in Australia?

Yes, those that need the check apply mainly through approved service providers like Australian National Character Check.

Although other bodies or persons (e.g. employers) may apply on behalf of the Candidate, they still need their informed consent before commencing such applications.

What is the police checking about?

When you apply for a police check in Australia, you must provide your details through the Informed Consent Forms. The forms collect personal data from the applicant, including;

  • Names,
  • Date of Birth,
  • Address(es), and all previous residences,
  • Mailing addresses,
  • Another necessary document relevant to the police check.

After completing the application, the medium they apply through forward all applications to the National Police Checking Service (NPCS).

The NPCS compares the applicant' data with the extensive data on the Australian Criminal Database. The Check will run through all the data on the Database quickly compared to a manual checking process.

If there is a potential match, the check algorithm will forward the check details for human confirmation. The officials will then deliver the records to the Local Police jurisdiction and any other jurisdiction where the applicant has resided to confirm the check through their Police History Information records. Usually, what the police checks for is a Person Of Interest (P.O.I); they try to determine if such persons are of significant interest to the Police or have disclosable court outcomes in the Australian legal system.

After verifying for a P.O.I., the authorities adjust the check to ensure that only the details that the jurisdiction permits to be displayed are disclosed on their police check records. The details released in a candidate's Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check result are the disclosable court outcome of the person.

What do I need to process a police check in Australia?

Applying for the police check is a straightforward process in Australia, primarily through accredited online service providers. You need to provide;

Furthermore, you must know the "purpose" of the police check before you apply for it. There is nothing like a "random" police check application; every police check has its purpose, whether for;

Lastly, the Candidate must provide their informed consent that allows the Accredited Body and the National Police Checking Service (NPCS) to use and interpret their details.

Applying for a police check has become easier with the licensed agencies that allow you to apply and complete a police check online.

What Identity Documents do I need to apply for the police check?

The police check requests specific I.D.s that can verify all the information the Candidate fills on their application form. For every information you supply in the Informed Consent Form, there must be an I.D. that backs it up.

To complete a nationally coordinated criminal history check, a candidate needs to provide at least four (4) different examples of all three (3) categories of Identity Document.

The three categories of I.D. document that every applicant must submit for a police check is;

Commencement of I.D. document (1)

These include any of the following documents;

  • Australian birth certificate issued by the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (Australian Government Unit) - not an extract or birth card
  • Australian Citizenship Certificate
  • Australian visa (supported by a foreign passport) current at the time of entry into Australia as a resident or tourist
  • Australian passport (not expired; however, if the Document Verification System (DVS) is used to verify the passport, it may be up to 3 years expired)
  • ImmiCard issued by the Department of Home Affairs

Primary Use in Community document (1)

It includes any of the valid and notable IDs under Australian laws like;

  • Australian passport (not expired; however, if the Document Verification System (DVS) is used to verify the passport, it may be up to 3 years expired)
  • An Australian driver licence, learner permit or provisional licence issued by a State or Territory, showing signature and/or photo
  • ImmiCard issued by the Department of Home Affairs to assist visa holders to provide evidence of their Commencement of Identity in Australia
  • A passport issued by a country other than Australia with a valid visa or valid entry stamp or equivalent
  • Proof of age or photo identity card issued by an Australian government agency which shows the name, date of birth, photo and signature of the individual
  • For persons aged under 18 years with no other Primary Use in Community Documents, a student identity document issued by an Australian government agency or Australian school only.

Secondary Use in Community document (2)

These are additional and popular documents for all Australian citizens or residents. It includes external receipts and invoices given by agencies, companies and Australian special commissions.

  • Medicare card
  • Enrolment with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
  • Working with children or vulnerable people card issued by an Australian state or territory government unit;
  • Tax File Number issued by the Australian Taxation Office
  • Bank card, credit card (without recording the payment card number/s)
  • Australian secondary or tertiary student photo identity document
  • Certified academic transcript from an Australian university
  • Foreign government issued driver licence. Documents in languages other than English must be accompanied by a NAATI accredited translation
  • Firearms licence
  • Security Guard/Crowd Control photo licence
  • Evidence of right to a government benefit (DVA or Centrelink)
  • Police Force Officer photo identity card
  • Australian Defence Force photo identity card
  • Aviation security identification card
  • Maritime security identification card
  • Credit reference check
  • Trusted referees report

What information is released in a police check certificate?

The details you find in a police check result are the Disclosable Court Outcomes under the State laws. If an applicant has no criminal history at all, it will also show up as a “No disclosable court outcomes” on the criminal history check.

The Disclosable Court Outcomes of the person will release the following details that are on their criminal records;

  • Court Convictions

All convictions issued by a court enter your criminal records on the Australian criminal Database. Unless your sentence is committed for other diversionary or Conditional Release programs, it will always appear on a police check certificate in Australia.

  • Sexually related assault

An offence of sexual assault/violation will always appear on your police check. The certificate will also disclose the kind of punishment that the court orders.

  • Traffic-related offences

Infringements or tickets settle not all traffic offences. If the Police charges you before a Magistrate, and you receive a conviction, it will remain on your Criminal history and police check records. Offences like Drug driving, Driving under the influence or manslaughter from traffic violations all enter the person’s criminal history.

  • Finance related offences

Offences of fraud, misappropriation, theft, robbery and other finance-related crimes are always shown on the police check. These types of violations will hardly qualify for any legal pardons under the State laws.

  • Assault Charges

Anyone charged with violating a person’s right in public, including participating in any action that would have or did cause them injury, is guilty of an assault charge. All serious or aggravated charges of assault in Australia will remain on the Candidate's criminal history in Australia.

  • Pending charges

The Court can include your ongoing charges in your police check record, especially related to the role. Also, if the pending charge is of community risk or potential danger, the Court will record it in their criminal records.

  • Arrest Warrant for a Criminal Offence

A pending warrant for a criminal offence, may appear on the Candidate's police check. Immediately after the police execute a warrant for an arrest due to a criminal offence; it automatically enters the offender's criminal record.

  • Good Behaviour Bonds

If the Court commits your sentence for a Good Behaviour Bond, the details remain on your criminal records for the Bond duration. Only the Court can issue a G.B.B. depending on the peculiarities of the offence.

What details do not show up in my police check?

Convictions or criminal records outside the Australian jurisdiction or legal courts will not enter your criminal records in Australia. Other items that do not enter a person's criminal record or police check include;

  • Diversionary programs

Depending on certain factors, the Court may decide against sentencing you or ordering other punishments. Instead, the Court will commit you to some diversionary programs or conditional release orders.

  • No findings of guilt

It means where the Court does not find you guilty of the charge; the case is dismissed, and the issue closes without any damage to your criminal records.

  • Police cautions

The Police can issue on-the-spot warnings or Cautions for less severe offences. The Police usually considers that the offence is less severe to bring before a Magistrate.

  • Infringement notice

Some minor violations in Australia are settled with infringements, tickets or other on-the-spot settlements. While these may show in Police, Traffic or related records, it does not appear on the Candidate's criminal records.

  • Restriction/court orders

If the Court issues an order restraining a person from an area or another person, they must obey the conditions and details of such order. During or at the end of the order period, it will not show up in their criminal records.

However, a breach of the order may lead to a court conviction and Court summons.

  • Convictions given by agencies other than an Australian court

Any conviction by a religious, cultural or social group outside of the Australian Court or laws does not form part of the Candidate's criminal records in Australia.

How long does a police check take to process in Australia?

The application medium or method can influence the speed or efficiency of a police check application in Australia. For example, applying for the police check online tends to be quicker and more convenient than applying for a police check through any other physical or manual medium.

Australian National Character Check delivers police check results to applicants within 24 to 48 hours of their application unless their check gets referred for manual processing. However, applying through a Police or the post office may require physical visits and paper-based applications, and it can take up to 10 to 15 business days.

Can my police check application get delayed?

Yes, some errors or inefficiencies in your application may cause delays in the process. Also, if your application is for any reason flagged for a "manual review", your police check application may be delayed for an additional 5 to 10 business days.

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 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 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.

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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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