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Is a character check the same as 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.


More often than not, you may find a "Character Check result" as a requirement for a job, license, or accreditation program you are applying for. Some people may panic about not having the "character check" or even hearing about it for that matter. However, a character check is the same as a police check and is just another name for a police check or a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

There is no difference in the legitimacy of a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check or Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check issued by ANCC or a state or territory police force. ANCC accesses the same central government database to retrieve results. Applicants may notice small differences in the formating of the certificates however both are equally valid. Applicants that obtain the police checks online generally do however experience a substantial difference in the speed and efficiency of obtaining their check online.

Why is it referred to as a Character Check?

It should be noted that a character check is just another common name for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check. Just like a police check, a character check also contains a record of all a person's court outcomes, sentencing, charges, and other pertinent convictions. So you see, it is just like a reflection of the person’s character that has a lot to do with the role they apply for.

A character check or police character check is just another common name for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check or a nationally coordinated criminal history check (NCCHC). The check is a document that is valid all through the States and Territories in Australia.

A Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check may be known by different names across Australia. However, it does not diminish its validity, purpose or merits.

A police check may also have various “local” names in the various States and Territories of Australia. For example, persons based may refer to a police check as a nationally coordinated criminal history check.

Where is a Character Check valid?

A police character check issued by ANCC is valid in all States and Territory in Australia. You can obtain a police check. No matter the state where you apply, it still maintains the same authenticity all through the States and Territory in Australia given that the purpose of the check is an approved purpose (e.g. Employment, accreditations, etc.).

Why do employers need a Character Check for an assessment?

There are certain roles you may never get with a record of a related conviction on your Police/Character Check. The legislation governing recruitment and criminal records forbid organisations from employing individuals with certain records in some roles (e.g. aged care).

Just imagine how improper it will be to employ a child offender in a role as a private tutor. A Character Check helps potential employers to assess the past behaviours of their employees/workers without going through a further rigorous process.

While a nationally coordinated criminal history check may not be full-proof to "foretell" a person's character, it is still the most credible legal means of going about it. Here are other ways a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check helps to ensure community safety;

  • Serve as an internal risk mitigation plan
  • Every investor wants to throw their money into a secure opportunity, not just any growing enterprise. A police check can become a physical representation of what your organisation promises in security.

    Demanding a police character check from people you employ. Grant license tells investors that you prioritise security.

  • It keeps your organization within the law
  • The law is hard on all defaulters of employment acts following criminal records. It is safer to request a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check from candidates than to assume or accept a "word of mouth" affirmation. Even though a candidate fits the qualification you seek, they should be disqualified if they have serious criminal records relating to the role.

  • Protects the community and resources
  • A convicted criminal offender will have the record shown in their police check. It serves as a warning to related agencies like schools, Tutoring services, care agencies, and so on about granting them employment.

    In numerous ways, character / police history check can prevent future ugly incidents

  • Good for your brand
  • Every customer wants to do business with a brand that guarantees their safety and protects their resources. Knowing you employ the “least” of security measures will endear your business to many.

How to apply for a Character/police check?

Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Checks are a requirement in many roles, license, accreditation, and you will most likely need one. If you need a check, you can apply through;

  • Australian National Character Check (ANCC)
  • When you apply through service providers like ANCC, you get the chance to complete your application online. The process is straightforward and convenient for your schedules. All applicants are processed and forwarded to the national criminal database promptly and most applicants will get their result returned within 48 hours, with the remaining that get referred for manual processing taking up to 15+ business days.

    Using any of your mobile, tablet or PC devices, you can log on to the portal of ANCC and select the green "Start Application" button.

  • The Local Police Website or a Post Office
  • Otherwise, willing applicants can apply via the local police website or a post office. However, this method may be in-person and may require getting identification documents certified or attested.

    Applying in-person can be hard to fit into a busy schedule, plus the in-person appearance may be stressful. This is why a number of applicants prefer to apply online.

What convictions will you find in a Police/Character Check?

If you have committed a serious criminal offence, it will show up on your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check results. It will also include all pending charges and summons by a legal Australian court. Other types of convictions you will find in a police character check are;

  • Convictions/Charges against corporate organisations
  • Sexually related offences
  • Serious offences like assault or bodily harm
  • Traffic charges for which an individual is convicted
  • Sentences and Convictions
  • Pending court charges and offences

These offences are called Disclosable Court Outcomes (DCOs). And they are released based on the State legislation covering the area they apply.

However, not all “offences” will show up in your police character check. Some offences are considered “unrelated” to be in your police check records. Some of them are;

  • Findings of non-guilt
  • Convictions outside the country.
  • Diversion programs
  • Punitive measures by third party institutions or other professional bodies/unions
  • Offences outside the jurisdiction of Australian police agencies/courts

Who can apply for a Police Character Check in Australia?

A Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check (NPC) (sometimes referred to as a police character check) is a nationwide document in Australia; everyone may eventually need one. Everyone above the age of 16 years can apply for a character check via ANCC.

If you are under 18, you will also need the informed consent of a parent or guardian to apply for a check. The online forms on the ANCC website will guide you through the process.

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.

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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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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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