AFP National Police Check Changes

EDIT: 1 January 2023. We’ve been advised by the AFP that changes to their encryption/security features on the digital certificate prevent it from being printed. This means if you must have your AFP National Police Check certificate notarised, authenticated, legalised or stamped with an apostille for use in other countries, you must order the hard certificate for this purpose.

Introducing the digital AFP National Police Check certificate

From 12 May 2022, the AFP transitioned to providing digital National Police Checks. The digital AFP National Police Check certificate will be delivered by email as a secure PDF file. Applicants still requiring a hard copy certificate must make that selection during the application process. Applicants can check the status of their National Police Check online and validate completed checks.

Using your digital certificate in another country

Despite digital documents becoming more widely accepted, don’t assume that your intended recipient or the intended destination country will accept a digital National Police Check certificate. If you’re not sure, ask your intended recipient. If they accept a digital certificate, you should also clarify their specific requirements.

Usually, before your digital National Police Check certificate will be accepted in another country, it must be either:

  • Stamped with an apostille by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), if the intended destination country is a member of the Apostille Convention; or
  • Authenticated by DFAT and legalised by the foreign representative office of the intended destination country. This only applies to countries that aren’t members of the Apostille Convention.

As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we verify and notarise the digital certificate (issued by the AFP or any other provider). We also help with obtaining the apostille or authentication from DFAT on any certificate that we’ve notarised.

Do you still need a hard copy certificate?

You should order a hard copy AFP National Police Check certificate when you order a digital certificate. This ensures that if required, you can still rely on the hard copy certificate. Using the hard copy certificate remains a proven method and is widely accepted despite the transition to a digital certificate.

DFAT can authenticate or stamp an apostille on the original hard copy AFP National Police Check certificate without notarisation. If you want to keep the original certificate unmarked and only send a copy to another country, that copy must be notarised first. However, if you’ve ordered the hard copy certificate, then you should use the original certificate. If you need another National Police Check certificate in the future, you should order another certificate so that it’s current rather than relying on an ‘old’ certificate.

As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we verify and notarise the original or a copy of the hard copy AFP National Police Check certificate. We also help with obtaining the apostille or authentication from DFAT on the original hard copy certificate or any certificate that we have notarised.

What are the differences between the digital certificate and the hard copy certificate?

The digital AFP National Police Check certificate is only issued as an electronic document in PDF format. Each certificate has a unique QR code that can be scanned and validated. You can download a sample digital certificate here.

The hard copy AFP National Police Check certificate is printed on paper that has a number of security features. These security features include:

  • a watermark consisting of multiple images of a padlock with two keys which is visible when held up to the light
  • fluorescent tricolour threads on both sides of the document glow blue, yellow and red when held under ultra-violet light
  • a border to the right of the police logos on the front of the document is printed in MICROTYPE which can be read when viewed under magnification
  • images on the front are printed in heat-sensitive ink and, when moderate heat or friction is applied, they will fade or disappear momentarily
  • hidden images printed in fluorescent ink and will glow yellow when viewed under ultra-violet light
  • screened background printed in solvent-reactive ink.

You can download a sample hard copy certificate here.

Should you order a digital certificate or a hard copy certificate?

In time, the digital certificate will eventually replace the hard copy certificate. However, at least for now, you should order a hard copy AFP National Police Check certificate when you order the digital certificate. The hard copy certificate is well-known and widely accepted around the world and its security features ensure that this will remain the case for some time.

Do you need help obtaining a police check from Australia?

As part of our commitment to service to clients, we’ve extended our notary public service offering to include applying for the Australian Federal Police National Police Check certificate. This ensures that the certificate will be quickly delivered to our office to assist with notarisation, DFAT authentication or stamping with an apostille. For more information about applying for the AFP National Police Check certificate, please contact us.

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Do you have any questions?

Sending documents from Australia to other countries can be complicated. We make it simple.

If your documents must be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and then legalised, we can help with that too. We've also created a flowchart to explain the process.

Not sure what you need? Contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

So, what's next?

Visit our Notary Fees page for a free quote for our notary public services. Otherwise, call us on +61 2 9687 8885 to speak with our friendly team about your requirements.

Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?

We're a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney. We're known for our experience and expertise in notarising documents for other countries, our low-cost fixed fees and service offering, and our availability to help on short notice.

Our office is conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area. We help clients from across Sydney and beyond with personal, professional and timely notary public services.

Ern Phang, Notary Public
Ern Phang
Notary Public

This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique law firm in Parramatta and a leading provider of quality notary public services to satisfied clients across Sydney.

Ern Phang is a director of Phang Legal and a notary public (since 2005). Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the issues faced by his clients in sending documents to other countries.

All information on this website is for general purposes only and correct at the time of publication. Only rely on information and advice that is specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.