Blogs > Visas / Useful Information

Police Clearance Certificates

  • January 07, 2020

A police clearance certificate will be necessary once you have received a job offer from an NHS hospital, your new employer will need this for them to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for you, and you will also need this documentation to apply for your Tier 2 Visa. In this article, we will be explaining what a police clearance certificate is, and how you can acquire one.

What is a Police Clearance Certificate?

As of April 6th 2017, anyone intending to relocate to the UK and work within the health, education or social care sectors must provide a police clearance certificate. The reason for this is that anyone working within these sectors will be in contact with vulnerable people, and this documentation is in place to try and safeguard the welfare of those individuals.

A police clearance certificate will confirm that an applicant does not have a criminal record. Conversely, if an individual does have a criminal record or any pending trials or convictions, this will appear within the police clearance certificate.

If a certificate states that an individual has been arrested or charged and is currently awaiting prosecution, your application will either be put on hold, pending the outcome of the case, or, depending on the severity of the crime, your application may be refused.

How do I Obtain a Police Clearance Certificate?

Police clearance certificates are usually issued either by the police, or by a law enforcement authority agency, depending on the procedures in place in the country you are obtaining the certificate from.

You will need to acquire police clearance certificates from any countries you have spent twelve or more months (either in one period or over several separate visits) in the last ten years prior to the date of your application whilst you have been eighteen years of age or older. If any dependants over the age of eighteen will be making the move to the UK with you, they will also need to obtain police clearance certificates.

Most countries have procedures in place to issue criminal record certificates, whether you are a citizen of that country, or you were simply a third country national living, working or visiting. As each country will have different procedures in place, you will need to find out who you need to contact in any countries you need to obtain certificates from, you can find out about the processes, costs and relevant information involved in obtaining certificates here. If a country isn’t on the list, you can instead contact a country’s High Commission or Embassy to find out what their process is.

Regional Certificates or National Certificates

Some countries do not provide national certificates. A national certificate covers any criminal records for the entirety of the country. If possible, you should attempt to obtain a national certificate. If a national certificate is not available, you may instead be provided with regional certificates. Regional certificates, as the name suggests, will only cover a certain region, state or province within the country. In the circumstance that you are only able to obtain regional certificates for a country you lived in, you will need to provide certificates for each of the areas you stayed in during your time within that country, as well as evidence that you resided within that region (such as a utility bill), and proof that you have attempted to obtain a national certificate first, but none were available.

What should I do if I can’t Obtain a Certificate?

If a country doesn’t have a process in place, and you have attempted to contact the country’s High Commission or Embassy but still haven’t been successful, you may be granted exemption. In place of a certificate, you will need to provide a written explanation as to why you cannot obtain the certificate.

You may also be exempt from providing a certificate if you fled a country for humanitarian reasons and are unable to re-establish contact with the relevant authorities, if there is international or internal conflict, or finally, if there is currently, or has been a humanitarian disaster within that country.

What makes a Certificate Valid?

You will need to provide either a scanned or original copy of the certificate or certificates issued by the relevant authorities, and if the original certificate is not in English, you will need to have it translated by an official translation body. You can find a list of translation services for each country here. It is also important to note that whether you provide the original or a scanned copy, it will likely be retained for at least 2 years.

In order for a document to be valid, the certificate from your most recent country of residence should have been issued no earlier than six months prior to the date you are applying.

If you do not provide certificates, or a reasonable explanation why you cannot provide certificates, you will not have met the requirements so your application will likely be refused. If you do not provide police certificates, the hospital or the home office may request them, if they do, you will need to provide them and they will need to be received within 28 working days of the request having been made.

Relocation to the UK

If you are an international doctor with plans to relocate to the UK and join the NHS, email your CV to [email protected] and we would be happy to help you on your relocation journey.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs into the group each day. We will also be on hand to answer all your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 50 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go with the IMG Advisor Podcast! You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.

References (2020). [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2020].

GOV.UK. (2020). General work visa (Tier 2). [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2020].

GOV.UK. (2020). Get a copy of your police records. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2020].

GOV.UK. (2020). Guidance on the application process for criminal records checks overseas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2020].


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