Police Checks for Canada Immigration
Police Clearance Certificate for Canada Immigration
What is a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC)?
A Police Clearance Certificate can also be known as a Police Check, Criminal Record Check, Character Check or Police Checks for Canada Immigration.
Each country has its own name for what is essentially a check on your criminal record in a country or jurisdiction.
You will need to upload a full-color scan of your PCC with your documents within 60 days of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) to Canada. Police Clearance Certificates are one of the most common reasons applicants get rejected at the documentation stage with problems such as not having all the required PCC’s, expired PCC’s and unexpected offenses appearing on applicants PCC’s.
Please read this section in full and be proactive in this matter. It is far better to be “too ready” than miss out on your permanent residency for something that could easily be avoided.
Why does Canada require a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) for express entry applicants?
Canada wants to know about the criminal history of anyone applying for permanent residency in their country. Permanent Residency is a path to becoming a Canadian Citizen so Canada does not want to be inviting people with criminal records into their country to live and work. If you are looking to Immigrate to Canada with a Criminal Record, press here
Who has to obtain a Police Clearance Certificate for Canada Immigration
Everyone on your application who is over 18 years of age. This includes yourself, your spouse or partner, and any children on your application who are over 18.
Do my children need a Police Clearance Certificate to Immigrate to Canada?
Only if they are 18 years of age or over.
Which Country do I need a Police Clearance Certificate from?
You will all need a PCC from your current country of residence and all countries you have lived in for more than six months consecutively within the past ten years. This is the same for your spouse and children over the age of 18.
In relation to the “past 10 years” rule, you only need a police check if you were over 18 at the time of living in the country. This applies to yourself, your spouse, and your children.
So for example, if you are now 25 years old and when you were 16 you lived for one year in another country and left when you were 17 years old, then you do not need to provide a police check for this country.
If you stayed for two years and left one day after your 18th birthday then you would need a police check for that country.
How do I obtain a Police Clearance Certificate for Canada Immigration?
Every nation has a different process of obtaining Police Clearance certificates. Some can be done online, some require a lot of documentation, some very little.
Canada has done a good job of listing exactly what they require and exactly how to go about obtaining a police check for each different country in this link below.
Simply click on the link and then click and scroll down to the Country you are seeking information on.
What needs to be included in my Police Clearance Certificate for Canadian Immigration?
The Canadian Government has some different requests for police checks depending on which country you live or lived in. For example, if you lived in certain states of Australia, Canada wants you to obtain driving record checks as well.
This information is obtained by searching for the relevant Country on the same page, found by clicking this link above.
What if my country is not on the list of how to obtain a police certificate?
Not every Country is listed on the Government Website linked to above. If your country is not listed, contact the national police agency of the country or territory to find out how to get a police certificate.
What if my country or one that I have lived in has changed its name or status since I lived there?
If you lived in a country that has changed its name or status, the police certificate should come from the current national authorities of that country. Canada will know the Country has changed its name or status and you just get the certificate in the name of what the Country is now known as.
How long is a PCC valid for?
The Police Clearance Certificate from the country you are currently living in is valid for six months.
The Police Clearance Certificate from a country you have previously lived in is valid from the last time you visited the country.
When should I obtain my Police Clearance Certificates?
As the Police Certificate from the Country you are living in is only valid for six months, it is usually obtained as soon as you are issued with an Invitation to Apply ITA.
It is important to remember that you only have 60 days from the ITA until all your documents must be submitted, so we always suggest that a) you get very clear on what is required to obtain a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) in the country that you live in, b) that you know the documents required and c) have them ready, and that you know the process required and timeframe to receive it.
Once your ITA is received you should immediately order your Police Clearance Certificate, to give it the best chance of arriving within the time frame. You should also keep the receipt of your PCC order payment to help put your case forward in the event you don’t receive your document on time.
If your document does not arrive on time, it is a serious situation. Your case officer can reject your application in these circumstances.
You can submit a Letter of Explanation stating you did all you could and applied immediately upon receipt of your ITA as well as submitting the receipt of order that you have, but still it is up to the officer if this will be accepted or not.
It is not worth the risk. Be ready and waiting in terms of your PCC
Many people like to get a PCC early just to be certain nothing is showing up on their police check. There are sometimes mistakes or things that should not be there on your record. Getting a PCC before it is needed allows you time to deal with any issues that might need fixing on your Police Checks for Canada Immigration as you will not have time to correct anything once your ITA is issued.
The best practice is to get a police check from your current Country – they are not normally very expensive and can save a lot of hassle later on. Yes, you may need to get another one if this one expires, but it is a small hassle compared with the alternatives.
It can also help by having your recently expired PCC to submit in the event that your updated PCC is not issued within 60 days. Again, it does not mean they will accept you couldn’t get the PCC in time and missed the deadline, but having a recent clear PCC can help your case in that situation.
If you need to obtain a Police Check for another Country that you have lived in previously for six months consecutively, then do this as soon as possible. In fact, do it while you are getting your language tests and ECA’s done.
If you lived there in the past and have no plan to go back soon, then get the police check now. It takes longer to organize from overseas in most cases, so it gives you enough time and it will not expire unless you return to that country before you have to submit your documents after your ITA.
What if I worked or lived in a country for a period of more than 6 months but it was broken into several separate visits, it was not 6 months continuous time?
You do not need a Police Certificate from that country. If the immigration officer for some reason decides they would like a police certificate from that country as you spent many trips there over the years or worked, Fly In Fly Out, for a series of years, they will ask you for it separately. If they don’t ask for this you do not need to provide one.
What happens if I, or a family member on my application, have a Criminal Record?
If you have a criminal record it is going to need addressing and will likely cause problems with your application and lead it to being rejected. Such a rejection is called “criminal inadmissibility” and it will be covered more in-depth in the next chapter.
The main thing is to not ignore this. There are sometimes things you can do to change this situation but it takes proactive effort on your part as covered in our guide to Immigrating to Canada with a Criminal Record.
What if I have minor offenses or misdemeanors on my Police Clearance Certificate?
It is important to realize every country is different in what they consider a misdemeanor or minor offense and what they consider a major offense.
This difference has caught out many potential immigrants to Canada. For example, in some Countries, a DUI or Driving Under the Influence offense is considered a minor matter or misdemeanor, in Canada this is not the case. A DUI in Canada is a serious offense.
Please be clear, it only matters what Canada classes your offense as. Canada does not care that your home country classifies your offense as minor, if it is a major issue in Canada then you have a problem that you need to address, or else your application will be rejected due to “criminal admissibility”.
These “minor” offenses that are “major” offenses in Canada are one of the most common reasons for people being rejected for entry into Canada, and in most cases, people had no idea it would be a problem.
Also, realize that the entire application will be rejected if one member of the application ends up as Criminally Inadmissible. We will cover Criminal Inadmissibility and what can and can’t be done about it in the next chapter.
The biggest takeaway here is to get your police checks done as soon as you can and deal with anything that appears on them. Do not ignore this. If you have something on your record your case will become a more complex matter.
Take heart though in that you are not alone, all entrants to face Police Checks for Canada Immigration. Canada is very strict about it, and so now let’s take a look at what you can do if you or someone on your application has something negative on their record.
Editor in Chief - EmigrateCanada.com
Dr. Montague John (PhD), is one of the World’s leading Canadian Immigration experts. Affectionately known as “Monty” he established EmigrateCanada.com more than 25 years ago and it has grown to be one of the most reliable sources of Canada Immigration information.
In 2022 Dr. Montague John (PhD) published his book, “How to Immigrate to Canada” as EmigrateCanada.com, which featured as Bestseller in its Category for several weeks. Montague co-ordinates all the qualified contributors at EmigrateCanada.com and serves as Editor-in-Chief.