Police Clearances

For either temporary or permanent residency (eg; a stay longer than three months) it is essential to provide a police clearance, if not multiple police clearances.

What is a police clearance certificate?

A police clearance is defined in section 1 of the Immigration Regulations, 2014 and is defined as:

“a certificate issued by the police or security authority in each country where the relevant applicant resided for 12 months or longer after attaining the age of 18 years, in respect of criminal records or the character of that applicant, which certificate shall not be older than six months at the time of its submission: Provided that the certificate shall not be required from a foreign country in the case of renewal or extension of a visa but from the Republic”

From where do I need a police clearance certificate?

  • For first time applicants or those changing their current visa: If you are over the age of 18 years old, you need a national police clearance certificate from your home country and can only be exempt from this requirement if you did not live in your home country after the age of 18 – or left before living there a year. You will also need a national police clearance certificate from any country where you resided for a year or longer after turning the age of 18.
  • For applicants renewing their visa from within South Africa: If you are not changing the type of visa you are or any condition to your current visa, it is only necessary to provide a South African police clearance.

How do I get a police clearance certificate?

Each country has their own method to applying for there police clearance certificates and an immigration advisor should be able to guide you through this process smoothly, or may even be able to apply on your behalf.

South African police clearances are now done at VFS submission centres for a fee of R175.00. VFS and Home Affairs will no longer accept any hard copy of a police clearance done through SAPS.

How long is a police clearance valid for?

A police clearance is only valid for a period of six months from the date it is issued – unless stipulated otherwise. Therefore, it is extremely important to time when you obtain police clearances so that you do not have out of date documentation.

How long does it take to get a police clearance certificate?

It is advisable to give yourself at least calendar month to obtain any police clearance certificate from abroad. This timeline can be longer if applying for a police clearance certificate from a country which you are no longer resident or where original fingerprints are needed.

Final Thoughts:

It should be noted that any police clearance which is not in English must be accompanied by an original sworn translation of the document. Furthermore, unless submitting for permanent residency, it is possible to submit certified copies of police clearance certificates, which is recommended if you need them for other purposes or permanent residency.

Some countries do not issue police clearance certificates to applicants once they are no longer resident, such as the United Arab Emirates or Singapore. It is important to obtain legal advice in a situation such as this to avoid any delays in obtaining temporary or permanent residency.

The timing of applying for police clearance certificates should not be taken lightly – as the expiration of a police clearance before submission or the non-arrival of a police clearance certificate can significantly delay your application.