How South African Police Clearance Certificates Work – A Guide

How South African Police Clearance Certificates Work – A Guide

The process of getting a South African Police Clearance Certificate can seem complicated and lengthy at first glance, but with the right information on hand and the help of a trusted service provider, it needn’t be a hassle!

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South African Police Clearance Certificate, apply
Applying for a South African Police Clearance Certificate may seem difficult but with the right help it can be an easy and stress-free process. Image: Virojt Changyencham
Source: Getty Images

South African Police Clearance Certificates (PCCs) are vital documents that indicate whether or not you have a criminal record against your name. In most cases, South Africans must submit these documents when applying for visas and immigration application processes as a means for officials in foreign countries to verify that they have a clear criminal record before they are allowed to enter their countries. PCCs are issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Many countries also refer to the police clearance as a “certificate of good standing” or “good conduct certificate”. So, how does the process of obtaining a PCC work? Is a police clearance certificate the same as a background check, and more importantly, how long does it take to obtain the document? This article will help you better understand how, when, and where to apply for a South African police clearance certificate.

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Is a criminal background check the same as a police clearance certificate?

The short answer is no. Criminal background checks cannot be used for official purposes or immigration applications. Background checks merely verify whether someone has an existing criminal record, but no formal certificates are issued with these checks.

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Background checks are generally done by Afiswitch and may be requested by banks and recruitment agencies when verifying sound character. These fingerprint checks are checked against details stored in the SAPS Criminal Records Centre’s database and can quickly determine if a person has convictions against their name.

Understanding South African Police Clearance Certificates

Police clearance certificates are formal records that state if a person has a criminal conviction against their name. If the person does have a criminal record, the document will also display the details of such crime.

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Unlike background checks, police clearance certificates are issued once the Criminal Records Center has performed several verification steps and checks. Some markets that are used to issue a PCC include your South African Identification Number and a complete set of your fingerprints.

Applying for a South African PCC

Anyone that wants to apply for an SA police clearance certificate must start by having their fingerprints taken in ink. Although it is the norm to have your fingerprints taken at a police station, you can actually have them taken anywhere as long as a notary public, lawyer, or commissioner of oaths signs and stamps the set of fingerprints to verify the authenticity of the prints.

Once submitted to the CRC, your fingerprints will be converted to digital format and stored on the CRC database. Although your prints are later converted into digital format, they must be submitted in ink when applying for your police clearance, as SAPS does not accept digital fingerprints.

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You will also need to submit a copy of your South African ID along with the completed application form in order to obtain a PCC. Foreigners that need to obtain police clearance certificates from South Africa follow the same steps, but instead of submitting a copy of their ID, they must submit a copy of their passport.

You have the option of applying for your clearance certificate at your nearest police station, but this is a very timely exercise as the station will only send applications off to the CRC once their application bag is full, which can take months.

The better option would be to make use of a South African concierge service like that handles everything on behalf of their clients. is registered as a courier with the Criminal Records Center, which means that they can fast-track your application and apply for corrections if a mistake was made on the original certificate.

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Need assistance with your SAPS Police Clearance?

Civilians cannot directly submit their police clearance application forms to the CRC. Applications can only be submitted by police stations and registered couriers. As a registered courier, can assist you with obtaining your South African Police Clearance in between 5 and 30 working days from the date of application (excluding courier times). They can also assist with having your documents apostilled for official use abroad.

Source: Briefly News

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