Police Clearance Certificate

A guide to obtaining Police Clearance Certificates for South Africa. Image: AdobeStock

An essential guide to obtaining Police Clearance Certificates in South Africa

Police Clearance Certificates are vital documents that indicate if a criminal conviction has been recorded against an individual.

Police Clearance Certificate

A guide to obtaining Police Clearance Certificates for South Africa. Image: AdobeStock

For South Africans embarking on visa applications or emigration, a crucial document often required is the Police Clearance Certificate (PCC). Additionally, South Africans residing abroad need this document when applying for permanent residency or foreign citizenship. In many countries, this certificate is referred to as a ‘certificate of good conduct.‘ But what are the fundamental requirements for obtaining this vital document, and where can you find assistance? To answer these questions, we turned to the experts at Apostil.co.za to provide insights into the process.

Is a criminal background check sufficient for a Police Clearance Certificate?

It’s important to note that a criminal background check is not synonymous with a SAPS Police Clearance Certificate. While background checks can confirm the presence of a criminal record, they do not provide details about the offenses, if any exist. Companies like Afiswitch typically conduct background checks for purposes such as employment and loan applications, where authorities aim to assess an applicant’s character.

In contrast, a SAPS Police Clearance Certificate involves a comprehensive background check process, including the disclosure of criminal offenses (if any) and expungements. Unlike background checks, police clearance certificates are issued only after the Criminal Records Center conducts thorough verification and validation processes.

Can digital fingerprints be submitted for the application?

No, the SAPS Criminal Records Center exclusively accepts ink fingerprints for Police Clearance Certificate applications. To initiate the process, individuals seeking an SA police clearance certificate must have their fingerprints taken in ink. Although police stations are the typical location for fingerprinting,

it is permissible to have fingerprints taken anywhere, provided that a notary public, lawyer, or commissioner of oaths certifies and stamps the fingerprints for authenticity. After submission to the CRC, fingerprints are digitized and stored in the CRC database. However, it is imperative to submit ink fingerprints when applying for your police clearance, as digital fingerprints are not accepted by SAPS.

Where should I apply for my Police Clearance Certificate?

While you have the option to apply for your clearance certificate at your local police station, this can be a time-consuming process, as stations often send applications to the CRC only when their application backlog is substantial, which may take several months.

A more efficient approach is to utilize a South African concierge service like Apostil.co.za, which manages the entire process on behalf of clients. Apostil.co.za is registered as a courier with the Criminal Records Center, enabling them to expedite your application and promptly rectify any errors on the original certificate.

Will my PCC display my maiden name?

By default, your maiden name will not appear on your certificate unless you specifically request it. If you wish to include your maiden name on your South African Police Clearance, you must provide a copy of your marriage certificate, indicating the name change. Additionally, you need to submit a copy of your ID or passport displaying your current surname(s). Generally, only the marriage certificate serves as sufficient evidence of the name change.

The certificate will then be issued with your maiden name alongside your current surname(s). Keep in mind that South African Police Clearance certificates can only include one maiden name, alongside your current surname(s). While some countries like Australia may request all previous maiden names on Police Certificates, South African Police Clearance can only display one maiden name.

Can I submit my application directly to the Criminal Records Center?

Unfortunately, civilians are not permitted to submit their PCC applications directly to the CRC. Only police stations and registered couriers are authorized to handle applications. As a registered courier, Apostil.co.za can assist you in obtaining your South African Police Clearance, typically within a timeframe of 5 to 30 working days from the date of application, excluding courier times. They can also facilitate the apostillation of your documents for official use abroad.

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