If you’ve ever stared out of the window on a cold and wet British afternoon and wished you were somewhere warmer and sunnier, then you’re not alone. Thousands of British citizens emigrate each year, with many more making a temporary move for work, or on a gap year or sabbatical. Since the UK left the European Union, this has made moving overseas trickier, but not impossible. There’s a lot of paperwork to get in order depending on the country you are moving to. Most permanent emigrants need a firm job offer, health certificates, personal references and even a minimum amount of money in the bank. One of the most commonly asked for pieces of paperwork is a police certificate. Although these have a lot in common with DBS checks and certificates, there are a few important differences.



The Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS, provides police records checking for people who want to work in England and Wales, with similar bodies operating in Scotland and Northern Ireland. A DBS certificate can’t be used for emigrating, and governments overseas will ask to see other paperwork instead. The organisation which supplies police certificates for emigration or travel is ACRO, the Criminal Records Office. Police certificates issued by ACRO will show the applicant’s name and address, their date of birth and any convictions and other information held on the police national computer. Check carefully with government websites overseas to get confirmation of exactly what sort of paperwork they are looking for.


Will A Record Rule Me Out?

It’s impossible to say whether a criminal record will rule you out from travelling. Each country sets its own rules, and the decision will mainly depend on the type of offence on your record, how long ago it happened, and whether you are applying for a visa to enter a country for a set period of a year or two, or on a permanent basis. It’s probably best to get advice from an immigration specialist about your chances of having a visa granted before spending money on ACRO police certificates and other paperwork required.


Getting a Police Certificate

You can apply for your police certificate from your home address in the UK, or from an overseas address if you’ve already moved. Online is probably the easiest way to apply, and you will need to gather together key information from your driving licence, passport or National Insurance number to allow ACRO to identify you. ACRO also need a passport-style photograph, as unlike a DBS certificate, the ACRO form has an image of the person concerned. Fill in the form online and give all the required details, upload your photo, and make the payment online. It usually takes around 10 days for the ACRO certificate to be generated, but there’s the option to pay extra for an express 2-day service if you need your paperwork in a hurry. Although you can manage the whole process online the certificate will still arrive through the post, which can cause delay at peak times.