Do You Need Police Clearance When Traveling To Australia?

Planning a trip to another country? Traveling to some countries like Australia requires you to have a character check certificate as a prerequisite for Australian visa approval. Some countries do not need a police clearance certificate to travel to, but countries like Australia do. It is because they want to keep records of anyone interested to travel.

Per Australian law, an Australian visa will not be granted to someone who has had past records of:

  • Stalking, molesting, harassing or intimidating someone
  • Posing a threat to the Australian community
  • Encourage any type of conflict or dispute in Australian society
  • Has a criminal record of insulting, abusing, or of offensive nature
  • Was engaged in any sort of criminal practice

Failure to have received a police clearance certificate will result in visa refusal.

Under section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 in Australia, an applicant must have a good and clear record if he/she wants to apply for an Australian visa or Australian citizenship.

A New Zealand citizen, who does not have any criminal history, does not require a visa to travel and work in Australia. On the other hand, if a New Zealand citizen has criminal convictions, they must get a written confirmation from the Department of Home Affairs even if it was committed a long time ago or taken off from the government records. They should do it before traveling to Australia.


Issuing a character certificate maybe be denied if:

  • A criminal record is found against you
  • You have been found guilty of breaking out of immigration detention or offenses committed before taking you to detention, after or during your escape or when residing in the detention center.
  • Your involvement has been found with any organization, group or business that has been a suspect in any kind of criminal offense.
  • Your association with a war crime, human trafficking, smuggling or genocide or any other type of crime that could be harmful or threatening to the country’s people.


 To get an Australian visa, it is common to ask for a police clearance certificate from every country you have stayed in for at least 1 year, including Australia. This certificate is also known as a penal clearance certificate. Usually asked for someone who is 17 years and above.

The police clearance certificate is valid for 1 year from the date of its issue and must include the details such as the date you turned 17 or the details of the places you lived in a country for.

If you are residing overseas and need a police check, the applicant will be directed to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). They are authorized to provide a national police clearance certificate which is valid for Visa and Immigration purposes. Although the AFP mentions that other countries also accept this certificate, it is also important to check with the local authority if they would accept the certificate issued by the AFP.

The application form, cost and type needed for the certificate differs from state to state. The states or territories of Australia are able to issue one of the below-mentioned certificates:

  • National police clearance certificate
  • A name check certificate; and
  • Certificate based on someone’s fingerprint

If you are in Australia and are looking for a police check for employment purposes, you can easily get a police check online from the Australian National Character Check website. They are based in the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) and are able to provide a national police certificate or clearance known as national police check for employment and licensing purposes. It is important to note that if your police check is for Visa purposes then it can only be obtained from the Australian Federal Police.

 An Australian Federal Police Check (AFP Check) is required for visa purposes. Other purposes where an AFP Check is required are:

  • Overseas employment
  • Industry compliance requirement/industry-specific standards
  • Checks related to workplace regulations or legislations
  • Working within the Federal Government departments


It is clear that everyone entering Australia must have a character certificate. But there are some keys to applying for a check and a visa

  • Answer all the questions truthfully
  • Declare any offense or criminal behavior you have been involved with
  • All the information should be provided correctly

All the circumstances of a case are considered while deciding. But it is up to the Department of Home Affairs to decide upon the visa outcomes. They do this as per Australian law.

Territory or state-issued Australian police certificates are not accepted for visa purposes. A fingerprint is also not required for the Australian police certificate.

Offenses such as on-the-spot parking fine or speeding fine, known as traffic infringements are not considered as convictions.


So, in order to get a visa for Australia and keep your records clear, get your police check done and visa approved. Immigration officials have the full right to decide whether to grant, cancel or refuse a visa application if a visa applicant fails a character test. Choose the one suitable for your visa and travel when it suits you.