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Overseas Criminal Record Check: For Overseas Applicants

The process of applying for an overseas criminal record check varies depending on the nationality of the overseas applicant.

To find out how you can submit an accurate application on behalf of your prospective employee, or to advise the employee on how to proceed, call IAS on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

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The Importance Of Criminal Records Checks for Overseas Applicants

As per GDPR, all employers in the UK are legally allowed to perform criminal record checks on prospective employees if they have a lawful basis for doing so. Over the years, this process has become increasingly common in the UK workforce.

In some industries, employers have a duty to carry out criminal record checks, which means they are a standard part of the application process. This applies to the health and education sectors.

Conducting criminal record checks for overseas applicants is a crucial part of keeping a workplace safe and secure.

It prevents employers from hiring someone who has a history of serious crime, or crimes that directly relate to the job they are applying for. An example of this would be a candidate with a history of financial fraud attempting to apply for a position at a bank.

If you are unsure about the procedures of the overseas criminal checks, get help from our immigration team.

Criminal Record Checks vs DBS Checks

Although DBS checks provide important background information about a person, they do not take into account data held by foreign law enforcement. What’s more, while all visa applicants must state any crimes they have committed, they are not required to provide evidence.

Opting for overseas criminal record checks is a way to ensure all criminal record information is up-to-date and accurate.

These checks also make the application process fair for British and overseas candidates alike.

Who Needs to Provide an Overseas Criminal Record Check Certificate?

Any prospective UK worker from overseas can be asked to submit a criminal record check with their visa application.

Skilled Worker Visa candidates will be asked for this if they plan to work in a profession requiring overseas criminal record checks. This applies to the following roles:

  • Educational professionals
  • Health professionals
  • Social services managers
  • Welfare professionals
  • Public health managers

Whenever there is a demand for an overseas criminal record check, any dependent partners who will be coming to the UK must also provide their own criminal record certificate.

Please note that anyone in the UK who is applying for a Skilled Worker visa, or extending this visa, will not need to submit a criminal background certificate as part of their visa application. This is only a requirement for individuals with a foreign nationality who are living abroad.

Similarly, when a UK employer is offering a new job to a candidate who is already legally established in the UK, they do not need to provide an overseas background check. A common example of this is when a non-UK citizen switches from a Student Visa to a Work Visa.

Are There Exemptions for Criminal Record Checks?

The Home Office recognises that it can be difficult for certain prospective employees to access a criminal record check in their country.

For this reason, they have outlined several situations that can make an individual or an employer exempt from providing this information:

  • There is a humanitarian disaster or armed conflict in the candidate’s country
  • The candidate’s country does not provide certificates to third-country nationals
  • There is no procedure for issuing certificates in the country concerned
  • The candidate fled their country for humanitarian purposes and therefore they cannot contact the relevant authorities

Individuals or employers can apply directly to the Home Office for exemptions. They must outline the action they have taken to attempt to secure a criminal record check, as well as submitting proof that they cannot obtain the certificate.

If an exempt candidate has lived in another country before their current country of residence, they must provide a criminal record certificate from the first country if possible.

If you have any questions about international applicants, our team is here to help.

How to Get an Overseas Police Check for an Employee

Employers must take care to follow the process of the country their candidate comes from. Generally, the process for each country is similar, but the details vary.

Here are several examples of the process of acquiring criminal record checks in different parts of the world.


UK employers cannot get a criminal record certificate from Australia on behalf of their prospective employee. Instead, the employee must either apply independently or with the guidance of an agency that is approved by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

They do this by submitting an application to the Australian Federal Police online or by post. The application must include an authorised copy of a passport photograph or another type of photographic ID. It costs $43.99 AUD.


A Certificate of Good Conduct can be obtained from the Central Criminal Registry in Nigeria by individuals, prospective UK employers or third party representatives. If the applicant is in the UK, they can apply to the Nigerian High Commission in London.

The list of supporting documents is different depending on who is submitting the application. It is always necessary to make an in-person appointment at the Central Criminal Registry form, where a Good Conduct form can be completed.

Prospective employers must provide a copy of the candidate’s fingerprints (taken at a local police station) and a copy of the bio data page of their passport.

Individuals are asked for:

  • Valid international passport
  • Fingerprints
  • Letter of introduction from the prospective employer
  • Fee of £5.99

They must also enquire whether they need to offer any other supporting documents.

UK applicants must be ready to provide:

  • Fee of £25
  • 3 copies of: Nigerian passport, completed form, page showing current visa, and passport-sized photographs


Only Ukraine nationals/residing foreign nationals and authorised third party representatives (with written consent and a power of attorney) may apply for a Ukranian Certificate of Conviction or No Conviction.

This can be obtained from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVS) in Kyiv, the region of the candidate’s residence permit or the regional militia division.

The requested supporting documents are:

  • Original passport
  • Completed application form from the MVS
  • Proof of power of attorney (if applicable)

There is no fixed fee for this application, so each applicant must liaise with the MVS to find out the total amount they will owe.

What Happens If an Employer Doesn’t Secure an Overseas Criminal Record Certificate?

If an employer is required to secure this check according to the visa or industry in question, there are no exceptions unless they have a valid exemption.

Failure to provide the certificate will result in the application being denied. This means the employer will not be able to recruit the candidate, and the candidate may not be able to move to the UK (if they were emigrating on the grounds of having a prospective job offer).

Additionally, the employer could get into legal trouble for neglecting to perform the obligatory criminal record check.

Contact our legal team. They can help with anything.

How Can IAS Help?

We work with employers to ensure they follow the right process to eventually welcome a foreign employee into their workplace. With our support, your application will be stronger than ever.

Identifying the process of criminal record checks in different countries can get complicated. Our immigration experts understand what each country wants, so you don’t have to spend hours on independent research.

Get in touch on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to meet with an immigration specialist who will offer advice on the specific criminal record requirements of your candidate’s country.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

These checks reveal any crimes the candidate has committed in their country over the last 10 years (or after the candidate turned 18). Regardless of the nature of the crime, it will be included in the check.

It is not common to have a criminal record without prior knowledge, but it is possible. In some countries, you can put your mind at ease by applying for your police record independently.

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