Police checks have become a fact of life when applying for a job, professional registration or a new visa category in many countries these days and Australia is no exception. One of the more frustrating aspects of such applications is to be asked to provide police checks, also called criminal background checks, or police clearance certificates for all the countries you have lived in for the last ten years.
It’s bad enough having to arrange this if every country you have lived in is English speaking, as police departments in some countries may be overloaded with requests and may take many weeks to respond. Sometimes, they don’t respond at all! It makes it even more difficult if you have lived in a country or countries where the official language is not English. You then have two jobs to do: you need to get the original police check itself and have it translated. In Australia, that means having it translated by a NAATI accredited translator.
You can’t blame the employer / organization in charge of professional registration / immigration authority. No-one is particularly keen on someone who has a criminal record, even if it doesn’t actually prevent your employment or visa application from being accepted. It’s just that the good old days when a signed statement to say that you don’t have a criminal record are accepted have long gone. And you can hardly expect someone in an Australian office who has the job of double checking police checks to know what is said on a piece of paper written in Chinese, Thai or Russian, just to mention three of dozens of potential languages used by international police authorities.
The fact is that a police check certificate translation is a fact of life and you just have to plan to have one ready when you need to present it. One important point here is that there is usually a requirement that a police check certificate and a police check certificate translation is no older than so many months old. It’s as if it might be thought that you have somehow slipped back to another country and committed a crime, served a sentence and returned!
Seriously, though, don’t request a police check too soon, especially if you need all sorts of other documents from far-away places and also need to get them translated. The point is that things like birth certificate translations and translations of educational qualifications don’t expire with age. Once they have been done correctly, you shouldn’t need to do them again. That’s not the case with a police check certificate translation. It’s a bit of a gamble exactly when to ask for it, but the timing is important.