In the process of Canadian immigration, police clearance certificates play a crucial role in determining the admissibility of candidates. These certificates are required to verify whether an applicant has a criminal record or poses a risk to Canada’s security. This article will delve into the significance of police certificates, particularly in the context of the Express Entry program, and provide comprehensive information on how they are obtained and utilized.

What is a Police Clearance Certificate?

A police certificate is a document that provides authorities with information about an individual’s criminal record. It is used to determine the admissibility of permanent residency and citizenship candidates in Canada. These certificates may go by different names, such as police clearance certificates or judicial record extracts, depending on the country from which they are requested.

Need for Police Certificates in Canadian Immigration

Police certificates are mandatory for all permanent residency applicants and most work permit applications. While they are not always required for visitor visa, work permit, and study permit applications, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may request them in certain cases. The requirement for police certificates generally applies to principal immigration candidates and family members above the age of 18, depending on the program they are applying to.

Police Certificates and Express Entry

Express Entry is Canada’s largest federal immigration pathway managed by the IRCC. It aims to bring skilled professionals to the country by offering them permanent residency. Candidates in any of the Express Entry-managed programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), will always need up to date police certificates.

Under the Express Entry program, candidates have 60 days to submit their police certificate. Due to the competitive nature of Express Entry and the time it takes to obtain a police certificate, it is advisable for candidates to seek one as soon as they enter the applicant pool. The police certificate serves as a crucial document in assessing the admissibility of candidates and ensuring the safety and security of Canada.

Obtaining a Police Certificate

To obtain a police certificate, applicants need to reach out to the police or government authorities of the respective country. The process may involve submitting information and documents such as biometrics, dates of residence, addresses in the specific country, and payment of any required fees. It is important to note that the submission of biometrics for a police certificate is separate from the biometrics submission for an immigration application.

You can find out how to get a police certificate for a specific country here.

Police Clearance Certificate Image - Fingerprints + Biometrics

Updated Police Certificates

A critical point often missed by candidates is the need for an updated police certificate if they have returned to a country where they previously obtained one. If you’ve been back to any country where you hold a police certificate since obtaining it, you will need a new one. This ensures that the certificate accurately reflects your most recent criminal record status in that country

Challenges in Obtaining Police Certificates

In some cases, candidates may encounter challenges in obtaining their police certificates within the given timeframe. With only 60 days to apply for permanent residency in Canada once an applicant receives an Invitation to Apply (ITA), time constraints can pose difficulties. However, there are options available for candidates in such situations.

Option 1: Declining the ITA

Candidates who cannot obtain their police certificate in time can choose to decline their ITA. By doing so, their Express Entry profile will be returned to the applicant pool. They will then have to wait for another invitation to apply for permanent residency in Canada.

Option 2: Proving Application for Police Certificate

Alternatively, candidates can prove to the IRCC that they have made efforts to obtain a police certificate in a timely manner. To do so, they may submit a letter of explanation along with supporting documents such as a delivery notice, tracking number, confirmation receipt, or payment receipt. The final decision regarding the acceptance of these documents lies with the discretion of the IRCC officer reviewing the application.

Important Considerations Regarding Police Clearance Certificates in Canada

There are several important considerations to keep in mind regarding the need for police certificates in Canadian immigration. Especially in the context of Express Entry. Here are some key points to remember:

  1. Validity Period: Generally valid for 6 months from the date of issue, unless obtained after the last visit to the country, in which case there is no expiry. If you have returned to the country since you obtained it, you will need a new one.
  2. Residence History: Canadian immigration candidates are generally required to submit a police certificate from every country in which they have resided for six or more consecutive months since they turned 18. However, police certificates are not required for the candidate’s time spent in Canada.
  3. Age Requirement: Police certificates are only necessary for the period after the candidate turns 18 years of age.


In conclusion, police certificates are an essential component of the Canadian immigration process, particularly in the Express Entry program. They serve to verify the admissibility of candidates and ensure the safety and security of Canada. Obtaining a police certificate in Canada can sometimes be challenging within the given timeframe. It’s important to note candidates have options such as declining the ITA or proving their efforts to obtain the certificate. It is crucial for applicants to understand the specific requirements and instructions regarding police certificates to successfully navigate the Canadian immigration system. For personalized guidance and assistance with your immigration program, we encourage you to book a consultation with our team at Dr. Joe’s Immigration