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What is in 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 is a method of assessing a candidate's criminal records and legal dealings in Australia. The certificate issued after the application form is completed contains the list of all their Disclosable Court Outcomes per the jurisdiction laws of the State or Territory.

The police check has become a standard means of evaluating a candidate's legal status concerning the role they seek. Most employers or decision makers now require a valid and current police check certificate as part of their application process.

What will I find in a police check?

The police check certificate contains all a person’s Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO) per the State or Territory’s release legislation. It includes all the convictions given by an Australian Court and recorded in their criminal records on the Australian Criminal Database.

At the end of the checking, the police check certificate will be returned with a DCO or NDCO.

Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCO)

The offences that show in your police check are known as DCOs. The DCO will reveal details such as;

What does not show in a police check?

The police check only reveals convictions given by an Australian Court. Therefore, you cannot find;

The police check will only cover criminal records that fall within the scope of Australia or issued by an Australian Court.

Details that will not appear on a police check include;

  • Diversionary programs,
  • No findings of guilt,
  • Police cautions,
  • Convictions given by agencies other than an Australian court,
  • Overseas convictions,

Applying for the police check in Australia

There are various ways to apply for a police check in Australia.

  • Online application

The Online application requires just a PC, Tablet or mobile device connected to the internet. It takes about 15 minutes to complete the entire application form, including soft copies of the ID verification documents for a nationally coordinated criminal history check.

Candidates who apply online through accredited agencies like ANCC will receive their police check within 24 to 48 hours unless the check gets referred for manual processing.

  • Applying through a local police force

Applicants can also apply through the Police authority.

This method may be paper-based, and the applicant may need to present physical copies of the ID for certification.

  • Applying through the Local Post office

The Post office can serve as a medium between applicants and the national check agency in processing a police check.

How long does a police check application take?

Police check application completed online usually takes between 24 to 48 working hours before candidates get the soft copies of their certificate. However, applications can take as long as 15+ business days if the check gets referred for manual processing.

Your police check application should generally get to you within the specified period unless it gets delayed. Over 70% of all applications are completed and returned to the applicants within the specified periods.

However, 30% of all applications may be delayed due to specific procedures regarding the checking.

What can delay my police check application?

There are various reasons why your police check application can get delayed in Australia. However frustrating it may be, there is nothing any agency or official can do about your applications taking longer.

A police check application can be delayed if;

The application is transferred to multiple jurisdictions

If the applicant lists various addresses on their application, the National Checking Service may transfer the application to the relevant Police jurisdiction. It helps to confirm if the candidate has a record in any of their past State or Territory of residence.

Error in the application or applicant’s details

The police checking is generally completed by a check algorithm that automatically compares the candidate’s record with the data on the Australian Criminal Database. If the system detects an error in an application, it will stop the checking until an official can manually supervise it.

The official may also request the applicant to submit extra details/IDs relating to their initial application.

Manual processing

If the check algorithm can get stuck on an application, an official may have to supervise the process manually. This process is known as manual processing, and it usually slows down the application process.

Manual processing can delay the application by an additional 5 to 15 days.

There are many causes for an application may be flagged for a manual review, it includes;

  • Shared or Common data

If the applicant shares specific details on the criminal database, the system may opt against making a decision. It will alert an official to supervise the process before proceeding with the check.

A Shared common name is not the fault of the applicant or the agency.

  • Complicated addresses

The system may discontinue the process if it cannot make sense of the address or jurisdiction details. The NPCS needs all the addresses to make the proper references in the various States or Territory records.

Having complex address details or frequent address changes may delay your police check application.

  • Inconclusive data

The system will discontinue a checking process if there is inconclusive or incomplete data on the police check application.

Applicants must complete all fields and requests on their police check application form before submitting the final application.

When does a police check expire?

Considering how vital a police check is in Australia, it is no surprise why people wonder how long the police check lasts.

The police check is a point-in-time check; it is only current up to the date of issue. Candidates have to update/renew their police check certificate to include their recent conviction details and history. And this is why most employers and organisations generally do not accept police checks older than three months.

The police check does not expire in the ordinary sense; it just becomes "obsolete" to the requester after a certain period. Employers may also request their staff to submit updated police checks at respectable intervals depending on their internal risk mitigation strategy.

Where do you need a police check?

Most organisations and agencies adopt the police check as a standard check to determine a candidate's suitability for the role. Also, the legislation makes the police check a mandatory requirement if you are applying to specific sensitive sectors in Australia that are regulated.

You also need a police check when applying to the following roles;

  • Working in vulnerable sectors or persons,
  • Working in Aged care,
  • Working as an educator, a teacher, or other child related roles,
  • Healthcare services and employment,
  • Licenses for firearms, weapons or related positions,
  • Probity Checks,
  • Work with the disabled,
  • Working as a security official,
  • Finance related roles.

How can I obtain a police 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 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?


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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Not sure where to start?

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.