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June 30th, 2020 David O Connor

How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check in Ireland?

Teaching in China_Criminal background Check

Among the flurry of documents you’ll need to collect for your China Work Visa application is a criminal background check. A government-issued certificate that tells the story of your illegal past. Or, preferably, lack thereof. Previously if  you had a minor criminal conviction, all was not lost. With the exception of serious crimes, the issue of employment was dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately this has changed. Now, any infraction listed on your criminal Background Check (or Police Certificate) will mean that you will be denied your visa. But don’t worry, if you’ve had a speeding fine or some minor traffic violation, this will not appear on your background check and prevent 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 criminal background check. You generally request one from your local Garda Station and we’ll tell you how to do that in just a minute.

First, however, you need to ensure:

  • That 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. Do note that, as far as Ireland is concerned, the document is valid for 12 months, It’s the Chinese requirement that you’ll need to abide by.

Applying before you have a teaching job lined up makes sense in some circumstance. US citizens, for example, know that their process can take upwards of two months so they usually get a head start. As a resident of Ireland, that’s not the case. The whole process, from beginning to end, should only take about 3-4 weeks (usually only 2) and that includes having the document authenticated by the Chinese Government. If you know your local Garda on a personal level, there has been cases applicants getting their 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 in Ireland?

Known locally as a Police Certificate, the criminal background check is issued by Ireland’s National Police and Security Service.

  1. 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, if visiting in person, just in case it goes AWOL. You’ll have to give your full name, date of birth and exact residential address (past and present) as well as the reason you’re applying for a Police Certificate (ie. for your China work visa!) 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 but 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) which means it has been notarized. If it’s missing, you will need to head back to the Garda to have it notarized (which is a waste of time) hence the importance of asking for it to be notarized, initially.

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

Once you’ve received your certificate, you’ll need to take it to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They who’ll legalize and authenticate the document. Once arriving at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade there’s a special office you go to. Funnily enough, called the Legalization Office – where you can have this done in half hour or so if you visit in person (offices in Dublin and Cork). You can also send it with a courier. Don’t trust snail-mail for these kinds of important docs!

Usually, most people will have ALL their document legalized 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 legalisation is €40 per document. 

  1. Have your criminal background check authenticated for China

The Chinese Embassy in Dublin will need to authenticate 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 courier service to deliver it promptly. Once, again, take all your documents with you as they will all need to be authenticated.

Once you have everything in order and your document legalised and authenticated, you can go ahead and add it to the cache of documents. Together with your China teaching visa application, you have everything you need to apply for your Chinese working visa.

Getting a criminal background check from Ireland 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. Once you receive your certificate, you can employ the services of a legalization agent (like Apostille.ie) to have the document apostilled by the Dep’t of Foreign Affairs and authenticated 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 but simply don’t wish to do all the running around. 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, appointments, stamps and applications yet the reward, ie. TEACHING IN CHINA, will make it all worthwhile!

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

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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