How to get a police certificate (police check)

When you apply to become a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen, you and your family members must include a police certificate. If you are applying as a visitor, student or temporary worker, a visa office may also ask you for a certificate.

What is a police certificate?

A police certificate is a copy of your criminal record or a statement that you do not have a criminal record. Police certificates are different in each country and territory. They may be called:

  • police clearance certificates,
  • good conduct certificates,
  • judicial record extracts or
  • other names.

Who needs a police certificate?

In general, you and all the people in your family who are 18 or older need to get a police certificate. You must get one from each country or territory where you have spent six or more months since the age of 18. For example:

  • if you visited, worked or lived in a country for two months, left for a few years, then returned for four months, that counts as spending six months there. In this case, you would need a certificate.

For countries where you have lived for six months or more, but no longer live in, the police certificate must be issued after the last time you lived in that country.

For the country you currently live in, where you spent six months or more, the police certificate must be issued no more than six months before you apply.

If your certificate is in a language other than English or French, send it when you apply, along with the original copy of a translation done by a certified translator.

How do I get one?

In most cases, you must contact the police or government to ask for a certificate. You may have to:

  • provide information or documents, such as photographs, fingerprints, or your addresses and dates that you lived in the country or territory, and
  • pay a fee.

Use our online tool to find out how and where to get a police certificate in the country where you live. If contact information is not available there, contact the national police agency, or your country or territory’s embassy or consulate in Canada.

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. If you are not able to get a police certificate from a country because you are a refugee from that country or for any other reason, please explain the reasons in writing.

CIC will also do background checks anywhere you and your family members have lived. These checks will show if you have had any arrests or convictions, or if you are a security risk to Canada.

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