Do you need to prove that you don’t have a criminal record in Australia? A common requirement for obtaining a visa or work permit to travel or work in other countries, is that you’re able to provide evidence of your criminal history (or a lack of criminal history) in the form of an Australian criminal history check or a clearance certificate.
Evidence of Australian Criminal History Check
As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we attest and notarise a range of different documents relating to the Australian criminal history check or clearance certificates in Australia. Some of these documents include:
- National Police Check issued by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) or state police
- Australian Criminal History Check issued by third-party accredited providers
- Fingerprints taken at a local police station (subject to verification)
We don’t decide what documents must be attested or notarised. Generally, this requirement depends on who you’re dealing with overseas and what they’re asking you to provide. For example, the documents that you must provide when applying for a visa or work permit may differ from the documents that you must provide when opening financial accounts or registering relationships. If you’re not sure about what you need, then you need to check with the recipient in the intended destination country – not with us.
This notary public service only applies to Australian national police checks, Australian criminal history checks, Australian criminal clearance certificates and other related documents issued by the Australian governments and authorities, Australian police agencies and law enforcement, or third party providers accredited by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). If you need a criminal history check from another country, you must seek assistance from within that country (not Australia).
Where can I apply for an Australian criminal history check?
Here’s a list of places where you can apply for an Australian criminal history check:
- Australian Federal Police (Australian police agency)
- NSW Police (Australian police agency)
- Equifax – fit2work (ACIC accredited body)
- Crime Check Australia (ACIC accredited body)
- Australian National Character Check (ACIC accredited body)
- CV Check (ACIC accredited body)
- Checked.com.au (ACID accredited body)
You can also find a list of other ACIC accredited bodies here.
Do I need to notarise or attest my Australian Criminal History Check?
Changes to the AFP National Police Check
From 12 May May 2022, the AFP have transitioned to providing digital National Police Checks. The AFP digital National Police Checks will be delivered by email as a secure PDF file. Applicants who still require 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.
What’s involved in attestation and notarisation?
In many cases, we must verify documents with the issuing organisation before we can attest or notarise them, especially if the issuing organisation is not an Australian government department or authority. Generally, this means that if your Australian criminal history check was issued by the AFP (ie, the National Police Check), it would have been issued as a physical document with in-built security and authentication features (ie, watermarks). The National Police Check issued by NSW Police can be issued as a physical document with similar in-built security and authentication features as the AFP version or as an electronic document.
Electronic documents issued by NSW Police or third party providers accredited by the ACIC must be verified with the issuing organisation and in most cases, they can be verified online through their respective websites.
Once we’ve verified the documents, we’re able to attest and notarise them by:
- Certifying a copy of the documents stating that they’re a true and correct copy of the original documents; and
- Confirming that we’ve also verified the information contained in the documents with the relevant issuing organisation or authority.
We attach a notary certificate containing those statements to either the original or a certified copy of your documents (depending on your preference and the requirements of your intended destination country). Also, if required by your intended destination country, we can also arrange for your documents to be stamped with an apostille or be authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
How long does it take?
In most cases, if attestation or notarisation is required, we can complete this as soon as we receive the Australian criminal history check (physically delivered if it’s the original document or emailed if it’s an electronic document).
If you also need us to help you with the apostille or authentication from DFAT, you should allow for another 5-10 business days on average. We’ll be able to confirm the timeline and turnaround time once we’ve been able to verify your documents.
Must my document be attested or notarised before it can be stamped with an apostille or authenticated?
As the issuing authority for the apostille or authentications in Australia, DFAT requires either the original document issued by an Australian government or Australian authority or it must be attested or notarised by a notary public.
Accordingly, if your criminal history check is the National Police Check issued by the AFP or the NSW Police, being the original physical documents (with in-built security and authentication features) then this can be stamped with an apostille or authenticated by DFAT without attestation or notarisation.
If your criminal history check or clearance certificate is an electronic document issued by the NSW Police or by a third party provider accredited by the ACIC, then it must be attested or notarised by us before it will be stamped with an apostille or authenticated by DFAT.
Why do I need an apostille or authentication from DFAT?
Different countries around the world have different requirements when it comes to notarised documents. Some countries may require notarised documents to be stamped with an apostille while others require notarised documents to be authenticated. This is part of a larger legal process called ‘legalisation’. You must check the specific requirements of the intended destination country as well as the intended recipient to avoid any unnecessary delay or costs incurred by following the wrong process or not following the right process.
You can make your own arrangements with DFAT to have your documents stamped with an apostille or authenticated after we’ve attested and notarised your documents. Alternatively, we can handle this part of the process on your behalf because we frequently help many clients with the same requirements.
Other country-specific processes
In addition to attestation, notarisation, apostille or authentication and legalisation, some countries (and recipients) have their own specific requirements. You should always check with the intended destination country or your intended recipients so that you follow their specific requirements. We help clients send their documents all over the world and we can help you with country-specific requirements too.
Do you have any questions regarding this article?
Whether you’re notarising a document for the first time or the hundreth time, the requirements, processes, and terms can be confusing and daunting – or just a pain and a hassle (especially if you need an apostille, or to authenticate or legalise as well). Don’t worry! We’re here to simplify it, explain it, and help you with what you need to achieve it.
Contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about our notary public services. We’ve also created a flowchart to help explain notarisation, apostille, authentication and legalisation.
So, what’s next?
Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?
We’re a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney 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. With our offices 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.
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.