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How to Get a Police Record Check from Outside Canada

If you have resided in Canada for at least 6 months at any one time, and wish to apply for visas (such as a permanent resident visa) while abroad, you will likely be required to submit a Canadian police record check, also known as an RCMP Criminal Record Check or simply Canadian police certificate. Due to the nature of this process, doing so while outside of Canada can present a host of unique difficulties, but they can be overcome with the right knowledge.

Living and Working Outside of Canada

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If you wish to immigrate to or simply work in Canada from abroad, the first step will likely be to procure a relevant visa.  The Canadian visa office will let you know if you need a Canadian criminal record check while your visa application is being processed. Canadians living abroad might also need RCMP Criminal Record Checks for various reasons, such as applying for foreign work visas. If and when you are asked to complete an RCMP Criminal Record Check, you must:

  • Submit a full set of fingerprints electronically, because paper submissions will not be processed by CCRTIS [Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services]).
  • Complete the police record form as it appears on the RCMP website.
  • Include the reason for your request.
  • Include your full name, date of birth, sex, mailing address, phone number, and the applicable fees as they are outlined on the RCMP website.

Some Unique Challenges

  • While electronic fingerprint submissions are required, it is not possible to submit them to the RCMP electronically from anywhere outside of Canada at this time. Accredited companies with the capacity to digitize ink fingerprints can do so and submit them electronically on your behalf to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • In addition, the federal processing fee for each criminal record check you require is $25 CAN – this fee must be paid for each individual job that requires your background check.
  • The amount of time a criminal record check can take when submitted by a police service or accredited fingerprinting company can take over 120 days if there is a match of your fingerprints to an arrest on your record. If there is no fingerprint match, the application should take no more than 3 business days, since the application itself will be electronic.

With the changing of technology, the ubiquitous nature of the internet, and the global community of the world in general, obtaining a Canadian police certificate no longer relies on international postal systems.  However, the main challenge of getting an RCMP Criminal Record Check while living abroad is the accessibility of fingerprinting systems, long distance communications, and the varying efficiency of international bureaucratic systems.

If you need to apply for an RCMP Criminal Record Check from outside Canada for any reason, you will need to enlist the help of a third party to ensure the process goes smoothly.