Overseas Police Check - Explained

Do I need an Overseas Police Check?

Individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK must undergo the same compliance and safeguarding checks as all other staff in schools, colleges and nurseries, including obtaining an enhanced DBS certificate with Children Barred List DBS check - even if the individual has never previously lived in the UK, as well as obtaining an overseas police check.

What is an overseas police check?

An overseas police check is a process of obtaining a criminal record check from another country. The purpose of an overseas police check is to verify whether the individual has a criminal record in the country they lived or worked in.

Who needs an overseas police check?

If you wish to work in a nursery, school or college and have lived abroad for 12 months or more in the last 10 years then you will need an overseas police check. This applies to any country that you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, so some people may require more than one overseas police check.

You may also require an overseas police check if you wish to work in the health and social care sector or to meet the requirements of the United Kingdom Immigration Rules in support of certain visa applications. You can find out more about obtaining overseas criminality information on the gov.uk website here.

How do I apply for an overseas police check?

Each country has a different process for obtaining a criminal record check. The home office has published an A-Z list of countries detailing how to obtain a check from each one. You can refer to the list here.

A certificate confirming an individual’s criminal record will usually be issued by the police or by an appropriate law enforcement agency in the relevant country.

On some occasions, it is not possible to obtain a criminal record certificate from the required country. In such cases, a candidate should contact the country’s Embassy or High Commission in the UK to seek one.

How long will it take to obtain an overseas police check?

Most countries have formal procedures for issuing criminal record certificates. It can take some countries several months to issue one. We always recommend candidates check the processing times for obtaining a certificate for any country they will be required to gain an overseas police check from, well in advance. If you are currently living abroad, we advise our candidates to apply for their overseas police check a couple of weeks before they are moving back/to the UK to help speed up the process.  

Why can’t my DBS show my criminal record abroad?

A DBS check is a check of UK police records only – the DBS is unable to access police records held overseas. If someone has spent time living overseas, then a DBS Check may not give a full picture of their criminal history.


If you have any further questions regarding an overseas police check, please call our compliance team on 0300 303 3227 and Toni, Courtney, Hayley, Hafsah or Ashleigh will be happy to help.