Police Checks within the Australian Taxi System
If you’re planning on a career as a taxi driver in Australia, you need to be accredited. You’re going to need to have checks conducted, as well as your Australian driver’s license. The checks that need to be conducted for taxi drivers are much the same as those needed for other public vehicles, such as buses.
The same rules for driver accreditation apply to rideshare drivers as well. If you’re planning to sign up for Uber, Ola, or DiDi, then you will need the same driver accreditation as traditional taxi drivers.
There isn’t a vast amount of information available for those that want to know more about the checks needed to become a taxi driver in the Australian taxi system. Here’s everything that you need to know.
What does driver accreditation mean in Australia?
In Australia, driver accreditation is used to ensure that drivers of commercial vehicles, such as taxis, are safe to hire. It makes passengers and taxi firms alike safer and more secure. To get driver accreditation so that one can become a taxi driver, it’s essential to meet the guidelines required by Australian safety standards.
To become an accredited taxi driver, the following checks will need to be carried out.
- Driver history
- Medical history
- Criminal record check
In some states, such as South Australia, you will also need to submit a Working With Children check. In the Northern Territory, you may also be asked to provide an Insolvency Check before accreditation is granted.
Of course, you’re also going to need a valid Australian driver’s license. How long you’ve had that license will play a factor in determining your accreditation. Each state has its guidelines. For example, in Victoria, you need to have had your driver’s license for at least six months before applying for driver accreditation.
Driver accreditation and the criminal background check
Police checks are becoming a lot more common in Australia. Usually, they are required when applying for new jobs. Taxi drivers are now required to apply for a national police check before they can start driving commercially.
Police checks are used for driver accreditation because passengers need to know that they can trust the driver to deliver them to their destination safely. If a criminal background check reveals issues that may impact passenger safety, then that driver will not pass the checks needed for driver accreditation.
The expiration date of police checks
A police check doesn’t have an expiry date. Instead, it is considered a ‘point in time’ check. It’s valid for proving that on the day you submit your police check, there are no criminal issues to consider.
Although it won’t technically expire, different driver accreditation authorities each have guidelines on how old a police check can be before it has to be dismissed. In general though, if a police check is more than three months old, it will need to be done again before you can get driver accreditation to become a taxi driver.
Different Driver Accreditations
There are lots of different kinds of driver accreditation available, depending on what kind of driver you plan on being. A taxi driver is going to need a different accreditation from a school bus driver or a heavy truck driver.
This is important to remember when you’re applying for driver accreditation. You will be asked about the kind of vehicle that you plan to drive. If you enter the wrong details, you’ll usually have to reapply. This will mean paying again for your checks.
When you’re submitting your police check, you also need to specify that you’re doing so to get driver accreditation. If you submit the wrong purpose, then you will not get your police check certificate and won’t be able to get your driver accreditation.
Police checks – How do they work for taxi drivers?
When you apply for a national police check through Crime Check Australia, it’s usually a very fast process. Most applicants get their police check results back within one business day, and sometimes even faster.
However, because police checks are based on basic information such as your name, there is a chance that you share information with other people. Some of those people may have extensive criminal records. In those cases, applications are flagged for manual review by the police themselves. This is done to prevent any mistakes.
Manual reviews happen with around 30% of submitted police checks. Most delays mean a wait that’s no longer than 15-business days. In rare cases, it can take longer. That’s why it’s so important to apply for your police check as early as possible. You won’t be able to get your driver accreditation if you have yet to receive your police check certificate.
It’s also important to remember that driver accreditation is a state-wide scheme. That means that if you are given driver accreditation in one state, it doesn’t mean that the accreditation will be valid in other states. Make sure that you know your state’s legislation for driver accreditation.
What offences will disqualify me from becoming a taxi driver in Australia?
To keep taxi companies and passengers safe, you will be disqualified from driver accreditation if certain offences are revealed on your criminal history check. These will be offences that reflect a lack of driver safety or include more serious crimes.
This is laid out by the Department of Transport, which governs taxis and other kinds of hire vehicles. The offences that will prevent you from getting driver accreditation are listed by the DoT in their entirety. These include convictions for:
- Domestic violence
- Dangerous driving that results in death or grievous bodily harm
- Speeding offences if the speed exceeded the speed limit by more than 45km/h
- Drunk driving
The list is very extensive and is covered by a lot of different legislations. If you believe that certain convictions might appear on your police check, it’s likely that you will not get driver accreditation. Any of the listed offences will mean prohibition of some kind. That may be temporary or permanent depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Taxis firms will also have guidelines regarding what are acceptable and not acceptable offences. These can be a little more lenient than the letter of the law and often involve in-house assessments. Those firms will ask questions such as:
- What driving offences there are and how serious they were (a few parking tickets won’t be an issue)
- Did any of the offences occur in a vehicle intended for the public?
- How many offences there are (is the candidate a repeat offender)?
- How long ago did the offences happen?
In most cases, should any relevant offences be discovered, an application to become a taxi driver will often be automatically dismissed. However, depending on the answers to the questions, there may be a simple waiting period to get through.
If you receive your driver accreditation and then your driving license is cancelled or suspended, then your driver accreditation will also be automatically cancelled.
How taxi drivers in Australia can get their police check
There are two methods for getting your police check if you’re hoping to get driver accreditation and become a taxi driver. The two methods are:
- Crime Check Australia: You can submit your application for a criminal history check 100% online through Crime Check Australia. This is the fastest and easiest method. In most cases, you will receive your police check certificate by email within 24 hours of submitting your application (although some applications may take longer depending on the circumstances). It takes around 15-minutes to fill out your details and hit the submit button.
- Police stations: The alternative method is to collect all of your documentation and take it along to your nearest police station. There, your proof of ID will be looked at, and the application sent by post to be checked. This is the traditional method of getting a police check, but it’s no longer the popular method. It takes a lot longer to get results, which will be delivered by post.
Whether you’re in a hurry or you have plenty of time, applying for a police check online is the fastest option by a long way.
Where is a police check valid when applying for taxi driver accreditation?
Driver accreditation is governed by the state, and there are differences between states. A police check is a national scheme, which means it can be used in all states. However, it’s not always referred to as a national police check. The name used by the state doesn’t mean they are different, so the following all mean the same thing:
- New South Wales: National Criminal History Check
- Western Australia: National Police Clearance
- Queensland: National Police Check
- Tasmania: National Police Check
- Victoria: National Criminal History Check
- Northern Territory: National Criminal History Check
- South Australia: National Criminal History Check
- Australian Capital Territory: Police Check
Wherever you live in Australia the process of getting your police check for taxi driving accreditation will be the same.
What does an Australian police check for taxi licensing show?
After you apply for an Australian police check you will receive your police check certificate. This will play a key role in your application for taxi driver accreditation. On it, there will be two potential results:
- No disclosable court outcomes (NDCO): This result means that there are no convictions against your name that can be legally released. In most cases, this will mean that the person applying has no criminal record.
- Disclosable court outcomes (DCO): If you have been convicted of a crime then it will show up on your police check certificate. Every charge you have will be listed unless it is considered spent or is legislated against. It will also show any pending court charges.
What won’t appear are the following:
- Charges where a court found you not guilty
- Any convictions that happened outside of Australia
- Convictions that resulted in a diversion program
- Any punishments that have been put in place by professional unions/bodies or third party institutions
- Offences that took place outside the jurisdiction of the Australian courts and Australian police
Why taxi and rideshare companies are using criminal background checks for taxi drivers
Recruiters need to ensure that all taxi drivers have submitted a police check. Passengers use taxis based on trust, and that means hiring teams also need to trust those they recruit. Knowing that drivers have had to apply for taxi driver accreditation and a national police check makes passengers far more likely to use their services.
Taxi companies that don’t require their drivers to have a police check are running some serious risks. They could easily lose their operators license.
What documents do I need for a police check for taxi driver accreditation
The documents needed for a police check will be the same whatever the purpose of the check is. You will need to provide a variety of documents. These are the same whether you’re applying online through Crime Check Australia or doing your submission via a police station. The documents you need are:
Commencement of ID documents (one of the following up to date documents is required):
- Australian passport
- Australian birth certificate
- Australian visa
- Certificate or Document of Identity (this will be the document issued by Foreign Affairs and Trade)
- Australian Citizenship Certificate
Primary Use in the Community documents (one of the following):
- Australian driver’s license
- Australian marriage certificate
- A foreign passport that has a valid visa or entry stamp
- Any photo ID card that’s been issued by an Australian government agency (this must include both a photo and copy of your signature)
- Firearms license
- Student ID card if the applicant is 18 or younger
Secondary Use in the Community document (Two of the following will need to be provided):
- Medicare card
- Credit/Bank card
- Bank statement
- Photo ID card
- Credit reference check
- Australian government benefit proof such as Veterans Affairs
- Proof of enrollment on the Australian Electoral Commission
- Maritime Security ID card
- Australian Trade Association cards
- Utility bills in your name
There are other Secondary Use in the Community document options if you struggle to find two of the examples listed.
If you’re submitting your application for a police check at a police station, then your proof of ID will be checked there and then by a police officer. If you’re applying online with Crime Check Australia, then you also need to upload a selfie. This helps us to determine whether you are the person in the documents you provide.
If you have any plans to become a taxi driver in Australia, then you’re going to need driver accreditation. That means you’re also going to have to submit a police check. The more in advance you apply for your police check, the more likely that you will get your certificate in time for job interviews.
In most cases, you will get your certificate quickly. Should your application be flagged for manual review, that could delay your taxi driving starting date. Get your submission for a police check in today, and you could be on the road with paying customers before you know it.