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Home Resources & Technical Articles Pre-Employment Screening Topics Police Checks Difference between national and federal police check

Difference between national and federal police check

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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.


In most cases it is now nearly inevitable for an individual to apply for a position or get a license and also be requested for a police check. While the interpretations of police check may depend on the purpose or organisation you are applying to, it is important to know the type of check you need.

Police checks are not absolute, but it offers a sound assessment possible for an individual's suitability for a role. It contains a record of convictions, pending charges and sentences of an individual (if available), up to date.

Which criminal history check certificate do I need?

If you are applying for a license, employment position, probity or others, you must provide a nationaly coordinated criminal history check document which is also referred to as a police check. However, it can be unclear which Check to apply for, whether a National police check (NCCHC) or an Australian Federal police check which is conducted via the AFP.

There is little difference between a Federal police check and a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check at least in content. Here are some similarities these documents carry.

What is disclosed in the certificate?

Like all Police checks, both the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check and the Australian Federal police check:

  1. Discloses records of all an individual disclosable convictions, It includes;
    • Court outcomes
    • Pending charges
    • Traffic offences that lead to convictions
    • Findings of guilt without sentencing
  2. Sourced from the databases of all Australian Police jurisdiction
  3. All applicants' data submitted for a police check certificate is compared with the data available in the Police records and Criminal database. The checking process extends to all the States and Territories where the individual has ever lived.

How do both police checks differ?

  1. Who provides the police check?,
  2. Federal police checks for the purpose of immigration or commonwealth employment can only be issued by the AFP.

    Therefore, if asked to present a Federal issued police check, the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check may not be accepted. The preference usually comes from the requesting organisation.

    Accredited bodies like the Australian National Character Check provide Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks to applicants for the purposes of employment or probity. These agencies make it easier and faster for applicants to get a Police Check compared to the local Police stations where identification documents may need to be attested or certified prior to the check being released.

    If they request a Federal police check of you, please apply for one through the Federal Police authorities, else visit the application portal of Australian National Character Check.

  3. Purpose of the police check
  4. Another difference in both of these police check documents could be the purpose of the Police Check.

    A Check issued by the Australian Federal Police is usually required for;

    • People seeking Commonwealth/Government employment
    • Immigration and Visa requirements
    • Industry-specific standards (Banking and financial services)
    • People living overseas
    • Overseas employments/engagements or contracts
    • Commonwealth territories, ACT or the Jervis Bay territory

    However, aside from these specifications or Special requests, a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (Nationally coordinated criminal history check) is just as relevant, valid and competent as a Federal police check.

    Therefore, your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check within Australia can be used for:

    • Employment police check
    • Accreditation for industry bodies

Documents you need to apply for a police check;

For a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check; an applicant must upload a self-capture photo and provide four ID documents to obtain a nationally coordinated criminal history check including;

    ✔ One (1) Commencement of ID document

    ✔ One (1) Primary Use in Community Document

    ✔ Two (2) Secondary Use in Community Document

For an Australian Federal police check; applicants must provide whatever documents are stipulated by the federal police. Details of this can be found on the online portal of the Australian Federal Police.

When will I get the results of my police check?

70% of Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check applications (NCCHC) submitted through the Australian National Character Check portal are returned to the applicants within 48 hours. The remaining that get referred for manual processing take up to 15 business days.

Applications for a Federal police check can take anywhere between 5 and 15 days.

Wrapping Up

When you are requested for a police check, always confirm with the requesting party their preference of the provider or the purpose of the check you are required to submit. That will determine whether you need a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (nationally coordinated criminal history check) or a federal police check.

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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.

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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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