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Jun 30th, 2020 by David O Connor

How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in Ireland?

Teaching in China_Criminal background Check

The criminal background check from Ireland is one of the essential documents you need for your China Work Visa application. A government-issued certificate that tells the story of your illegal past. The Criminal background check is formally known as a Police Certificate

Unfortunately, any infraction listed on your Criminal Background Check will mean that you will be denied your visa. But don’t worry, having a speeding fine or some minor traffic violation will not go against you. These minor infractions will not appear on your background check. Thus preventing you from getting a work visa.

If you live in Ireland or have done for 6+ months, in the last 5 years, you’ll need a Police Certificate. You generally request one from your local Garda Station. We’ll tell you how to do that in just a minute.

First, however, you need to ensure:

  • Your criminal record is no more than 6 months old. The six-month validity starts from the day it is issued. It is counted up to and including the date of your visa application. 

The whole process, from beginning to end, should only take about 3-4 weeks (usually only 2). That includes having the document authenticated by the Chinese Government. If you know your local Garda personally, you may get the certificate in a matter of days.

Here is the PDF of the Irish Police Certificate you can download.

In Ireland, Police Certificates are issued free of charge

How to Apply for a Criminal Background Check?

The Police Certificate is issued by the Gardai. Ireland’s National Police and Security Service.

  1. How to Apply

Apply in person at your nearest Garda Station

If you cannot go there in person, you can appoint someone to apply on your behalf. When making your application, request that the document be handed to you already notarized.

The application should be made to the Superintendent of your local district (present or past). Make sure to note the name of the officer who’ll accept your application. You’ll have to give your full name, date of birth and exact residential address (past and present).

You must state the reason you’re applying for a Police Certificate (ie. for your China work visa!). Police certificate applications are made for specific purposes. An application for

Don’t forget to give them a copy of your passport and a self-addressed, stamped envelope so they can mail you the doc.

It’s important to ask for the document to be notarized so you don’t need to visit twice!

  1. Wait for the certificate to be issued

Usually, the Garda is quite swift and you’ll have the doc ready in just a couple of days. Although they do state that it can take 2 weeks so it’s worth keeping that in mind. When you receive your document, look out for a blue stamp at the bottom of the page (LHS), This signifies it has been notarized. If it’s missing, you will need to head back to the Garda to have it notarized.

Teach in China_ Criminal Background Check Ireland
    3. Get your criminal background check legalised (apostilled)

Once you’ve received your certificate, you’ll need to send it to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They will authenticate the document. In pre-COVID-19 times, you could visit either office in Dublin or Cork. Now you all requests must be made to Legalization Office via mail. It goes without saying that your background check should be sent via registered post.

Usually, most people will have ALL their documents authenticated at the same time. So make sure you have your other China visa-related documents at hand to save on time and/or courier fees. The cost for authenticated is €40 per document. 

  1. Have your criminal background check authenticated for China

The Chinese Embassy in Dublin will need to legalise and accept the document, on behalf of the Chinese Government. This step, which should take about 4-5 days, is the last thing you’ll need to do. You’ll need to visit in person if you can or trust a apostille service to deliver it promptly. Once, again, take all at once that need to be authenticated.

A criminal background check is only one of the documents you need as Irish Citizen for your Chinese visa. Be prepared to jump through a few more hoops.

Getting my background check if I’m living abroad?

If Ireland is not your current country of residence but you have lived there for a considerable amount of time (6 months) in the last five years. You will still need to apply for a Police Certificate. Luckily, a China visa is one of only a few circumstances where a certificate can be issued to someone abroad.

How can I get it ?

You can write and apply directly to the Garda Superintendent of the district where you lived. 

If you are trying to get one from Northern Ireland or having problems getting your background check. You can contact the Gardai website directly. The Gardai have proved very willing to help out those who are having problems getting their background check. 

Once you receive your certificate, you can employ the services of a legalization agent (like They can send it to have it authenticated by the Dep’t of Foreign Affairs and legalised by the Chinese Embassy. They will then courier mail all the docs back to you, wherever you happen to be. These services can also be used if you are in Ireland if you prefer not to travel. Or during COVID times when you are not in a position to do so. Either way, you can ask for a quote, right here.

The bureaucratic rigmarole to apply for your China work visa will be the start of a beautiful journey of paperwork. Yet the reward, ie. TEACHING IN CHINA will make it all worthwhile!

At China by Teaching, we’re in the business of hooking teachers up with reputable schools in China. Contact Us Here to know more.

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David O Connor

David O Connor

David is China by Teaching’s chief contributor. When not offering sage advice about teaching in China, David is a headmaster of a Bilingual kindergarten in Beijing. David is a lover of craft beers, book clubs and super long road trips.

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