Key Differences Between a National Police Check and an Australian Federal Police Check
There are several different reasons why you might need to apply for a criminal record check in Australia. Depending on the reason for yours, you may have to apply for something called an Australian federal police check, rather than the more common national police check.
Both are easy to apply for and, in most cases, your certificate will be issued in just a few days. However, you must ensure you apply for the correct check for your purposes. To do so, there are slightly different requirements and guidelines you’ll have to bear in mind.
What Are the Key Differences Between a National Police Check and an Australian Federal Police Check?
As you may already know, an NPC is a criminal history check which is undertaken by the Australian National Police Checking Service. You can apply for an NPC through any one of a number of accredited bodies, including Crime Check Australia. For a list of accredited organisations, check out the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission website.
You will typically be asked to apply for an NPC by a prospective employer or licencing body. This is most common in high-stakes sectors such as healthcare and finance.
An Australian federal police check or AFP is just another sort of criminal record check which is carried out for different purposes. While both checks are completed by the National Police Checking Service and take into account the same police records, a person should apply for an AFP, not an NPC, if they need a police check for the following reasons:
- Immigration purposes.
- Visa applications.
- Overseas adoption.
- Overseas employment.
- Police check applications where the applicant lives overseas.
- Applications for employment with the Commonwealth Government.
- Applications for a police check under Commonwealth legislation.
What Will Be Included in My Australian Federal Police Check?
As with a national police check online, when you apply for an AFP, you will be issued with a certificate that includes a list of your ‘disclosable court outcomes.’ These are any charges or convictions deemed relevant to the reasons for your check. Or, if you are found to have no relevant charges or convictions, it will state that you have ‘no disclosable court outcomes.’
The ‘disclosable court outcomes’ or DCOs listed on your certificate will help immigration agents, licensees, and employers determine whether you are of good character.
Say, for example, that you applied for an AFP to obtain immigration status. If you were found to have a substantial criminal record or offences committed while you were in immigration detention, chances are that you would not meet good character requirements. This could compromise your ability to get a visa.
What Requirements Must Be Met for an Australian Federal Police Check?
The requirements for an AFP application are roughly the same as if you were applying for an NPC or a regional police check, with a police check in NSW being just one such example. Unlike these alternative police checks, though, with an AFP you can decide whether to apply online or submit your application via post.
Once you’ve made up your mind, ensure you have all of the necessary information and documentation ready for your application. If you fail to provide everything that’s been asked of you, your AFP application may be rejected, in which case you will not receive your certificate. Requirements include:
- Providing personal details, including your date of birth, full name, and any previous names by which you have been known.
- Acquiring parental consent if you are under the age of 18 at the time of application.
- Paying the fee for your AFP using either Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. Or, for applications submitted by post, you can instead pay using a cheque from an Australian bank.
- Submitting copies of identifying documentation. These must match the information entered elsewhere in your application.
Again, these requirements are broadly similar to those of a national police check application. However, key differences lie in the documents applicants are asked to submit.
What Documents Do I Need to Provide for an Australian Federal Police Check?
For an AFP, applicants are asked to provide identifying documents that add up to 100 points, based on the Australian Federal Police’s points-based system. These must include at least one ‘primary document,’ which can include the following:
- A current foreign passport (70 points).
- A current or recently expired Australian passport (70 points).
- A full birth certificate (70 points).
- A Certificate of Identity issued to non-Australian citizens by the Australian government (70 points).
- An Australian government employee identification document (40 points).
Applicants may also upload one or more secondary documents if their primary documentation does not total 100 points. These may include, for example, a Centrelink card for 40 points or a utility bill for 20 points.
For more information on the exact documents you can include and how many points they’re each worth, click here.
What Documents Do I Need to Provide for a National Police Check?
When applying for an NPC, there is no points-based system involved. Instead, applicants are asked to submit four documents, including:
- One commencement document, such as an Australian visa or a Certificate of Evidence of Resident Status.
- One primary document, such as an Australian driver’s licence or student identification card.
- Two secondary documents, such as a Medicare card or bank statement.
If an applicant has recently changed their name, they may also need to provide an official marriage certificate or change of name document.
Do I Need to Provide Fingerprints for an Australian Federal Police Check?
There are some cases in which it may be necessary for you to submit a full set of fingerprints with your AFP application. In contrast, in no instance will it be necessary for you to have your fingerprints taken when applying for a national police check in Australia.
You will be asked to provide a set of fingerprints as part of the AFP application process if there is a legal requirement in your jurisdiction. This may be the case if your immigration authority stipulates a fingerprint check as a requirement for a police check in your home country. In addition, some Australian governmental agencies also require fingerprinting.
To find out whether you’ll need to provide a full set of fingerprints as part of your AFP application, conduct the relevant authority. And, keep in mind that an AFP check with fingerprinting will take longer to process and carry an additional charge. More on this below.
How Much Does an Australian Federal Police Check Cost?
When you apply for an AFP through the Australian government’s AFP webpage, the minimum you can expect to pay is $42. This covers the cost of processing your application, completing your criminal background check, and issuing you with your certificate. If you also need to have your fingerprints checked as part of your AFP application, you will be charged $99.
As mentioned above, applicants can pay for their AFP either with Visa, MasterCard, or American Express when applying online. Or, they can do so using a credit card, money order, or bank cheque when submitting a postal application.
How Much Does a National Police Check Cost?
When applying for an NPC through an accredited body, prices may vary. However, applicants can expect to pay $69 when they apply for a check for volunteering purposes through Crime Check Australia. This charge includes a 10% goods and services tax (GST) which is applied to most consumable goods and services sold in Australia.
For a check carried out for paid employment purposes, the cost is a little higher at $99, once again including GST. The same pricing applies across the country, whether you apply for police checks in South Australia or a region a thousand miles north.
How Long Does It Take to Process an Australian Federal Police Check
As with an NPC, it often doesn’t take very long to process an AFP and issue an applicant with their certificate. In fact, in a majority of cases, it takes only 48 hours. However, your police check could take longer. This is most likely to happen when the Australian Federal Police need to seek additional information from other police jurisdictions.
You should allow plenty of time for your application to be processed and your certificate to be issued. But, if you have yet to hear back about your AFP after 15 business days, it is recommended that you get in touch with the organisation through which you applied.
Will Fingerprinting Delay My Application?
Yes, applying for an AFP with fingerprinting checks will slow down the process and cause a delay in you receiving your police clearance. In this case, it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 business days for your check to be processed. So, apply for your AFP with a fingerprint check as soon as you know you need it to avoid complications.
Can I Dispute the Findings of My Australian Federal Police Check?
You may, in some instances, believe that there is just cause to dispute the disclosable court outcomes listed on your AFP. If you do, you can fill in the Disputed Record form on the AFP website.
There, you will be asked to provide your details, including those which were originally submitted as part of your application, as well as details of your dispute and supporting documentation for your claim.
Similarly, you can dispute the findings of your NPC, although the process to do so is slightly different. To dispute the findings of an NPC carried out by Crime Check Australia, contact us straight away. We will liaise with the relevant authorities on your behalf.
How Long Is an Australian Federal Police Check Valid For?
Both AFPs and NPCs are considered ‘point in time’ checks that are valid on the date stated on your certificate. It is up to the discretion of the organisation or body that requested the check to determine at what point your certificate is considered invalid. For more information, reach out to the requesting body.
How to Apply for an Australian Federal Police Check?
You can choose either to apply for your AFP online or to print off an offline form, fill it in manually, and submit it via post. While the order in which you provide your details will vary slightly depending on the approach you take, the actual information you input will be the same.
As with national police checks and regional checks like police checks in West Australia, you will be asked to submit your full name, date of birth, contact details, and details related to the purpose of your check during the initial stages of your application. If you’re in need of a fingerprint check, you will also be asked for details of when, where, and by whom they were taken at this point in the process.
Additionally, you will be required to provide your current and previous home address, payment information, and scans or photos of your identifying documents. Then, you will be asked to provide consent. Without this, your AFP application cannot be processed.
How to Apply for a National Police Check?
The process of applying for an NPC online is largely the same as it is for an AFP. To start with, you will be required to provide your full name, contact information, and details regarding the purpose of your police check, before paying the fees through a secure online portal.
To complete your application for a national police check, you will then have to provide additional information including your gender and address history. You will also be required to upload your identifying documents as well as a selfie of you holding up a form of photo ID.
From here, you can consent and submit your application. It may only take one business day for your certificate to be issued once you have completed this process.
How to Check on the Status of My Police Check?
You may be concerned about how long your police check is taking, or you might be wondering about the status of your certificate. If so, get in touch with the body through which you applied.
For example, if you applied for an AFP through the Australian Federal Police website, you can reach out to them using the contact details specified online. Or, if you applied for an NPC or regional check such as a police check Victoria through Crime Check Australia, you can contact us either by phone, email, or our online contact form.