ACRO is the name given for the UK Criminal Records Office, the official government agency which has the job of checking up on the police records of people who want to leave the UK and emigrate to another country such as the United States, Australia or New Zealand. This is a totally separate type of checking which is done on people who are applying to work in the UK and require to have police checking or disclosure checking done to make sure that they are not a risk to children or vulnerable adults.
People who want to emigrate are often asked to produce a police certificate as part of their application. This is a requirement of the government of the country concerned, not a UK requirement. Unlike disclosure certificates for working within the UK which are usually applied for by the employer, a Police Certificate is organised by the applicant themselves. Every adult who is applying for immigration will need their own police certificate, and people who have been working and living in the UK but who are a citizen of another country can apply for a UK police certificate too. Most embassies will require a police certificate dated within the last six months when you apply for your work visa so ensure that you apply for your certificate at the right time.
You can apply for your police certificate either online or through the post. Make sure you’re using the latest version of the form as using out of date paperwork might mean your application is rejected. You will also need to provide some other documents to prove both your identity and your address. These can include:
- Address proof – two documents showing your name and address such as utility bills, bank statements, NHS correspondence, phone bills. These must be recent.
- Identity proof – copy of the details page in your passport, copy of your driving licence, note of your National Insurance number.
- Photograph – you will also need to send a passport style photograph which is affixed to your police certificate when issued.
You can scan these documents and upload them with your application or send copies in the post. You shouldn’t send in the original documents to ACRO as they won’t be returned to you.
What Appears on a Police Certificate?
Once processed, your police certificate will be sent directly to you at your home address, not to the embassy of the country you’re thinking of emigrating to. The police certificate will contain the following information:
- Full name
- Any other names you’ve previously been known as
- Date of birth
- Passport details
- Photograph which you supplied
- Any convictions which are disclosed
Not all convictions will be listed on a police certificate. The Police use a “step down” policy when deciding which convictions to list. This sorts offences into three categories of seriousness and this determines the length of time after which it drops off your record. This can vary from five years to never, in the case of very serious offences which result in a long prison sentence.