At Vanner Perez Notaries, we regularly assist clients with the notarisation and legalisation (apostille) of criminal record checks issued in the UK that need to be presented to the authorities of other countries.
There are two main official types of criminal record checks available to order in England and Wales. These are:
- ACRO Police Certificate
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
ACRO certificates can be ordered online from the the ACRO Criminal Records Office. Once issued, the ACRO certificate will usually come with an original wet-ink signature from an ACRO officer. As it is signed by a public official, the certificate can be apostilled directly. If the receiving party has asked for the ACRO certificate to be notarised and apostilled, that is also possible. We find that ACRO certificates are usually requested when relocating abroad (e.g. China or Spain). It is always worth checking requirements first before proceeding. In the interest of time, clients can use our office address as the postal address for delivery of the original police check when completing the application, if they’d prefer.
A DBS check can be ordered online from the UK Government website and they are available for people working in England and Wales. As DBS checks are issued without an original wet-ink signature, these must be notarised before they can be apostilled. We find that DBS checks are usually requested for international adoptions (e.g. India, Colombia).
For some jurisdictions, police checks have a certain validity period and may be rejected if they are older than 3-6 months. With this in mind, we would suggest checking with the end recipient as to how recent they want the police checks dated, to avoid repeating the process and unnecessary costs.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) will not affix an apostille on a photocopy of a police check, so the original would need to be notarised/presented for apostille.
If you live/have lived in Scotland, it may be possible for you to obtain a criminal record check from Scotland issued by Disclosure Scotland. A Disclosure Scotland certificate can be apostilled directly, but only if it has an original signature on.