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Apr 29th, 2020 by David O Connor

How to obtain a criminal record check for your China work visa in 2022

Teach in China_Obtaining a criminal record check for your China work visa 2

So you’re thinking about coming to China to teach?  A ‘criminal background check’ is one of the documents you’ll need to get a China work visa.

It has many names and can also be referred to as a:

  • Criminal background check
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Criminal history check
  • No criminal record check  and even
  • Certificate of lack of criminal record

All are essentially the same thing: an official document, issued by your home country or country of residence stating you have no prior criminal records.

Why do you need a criminal background check when applying for a China work visa? Because China wants to ensure people with criminal backgrounds do not enter and work in their country. So far, so logical.

The procedure for obtaining your criminal record check differs depending on your country of origin. Yet before we move on to our step-by-step guides, you should know that there are a few prerequisites they all share.

Your criminal record check should be:

  • No more than 6 months old (from date of issue until you apply for your visa)
  • Signed by the issuing authority
  • From your country of current residence. PLUS any other country (countries) you have resided in, for more than 6 months, in the last 5 years
  • Authenticated, in the issuing country, at your local Chinese Embassy, consulate or visa centre.

This is a time-consuming process so factor this in when making your visa application.

Which authorities issue criminal record checks for your China work visa?

Criminal record certificates are issued by law enforcement agencies. Usually, you can get yours at police stations, county sheriff’s offices and even the FBI if your employer requests a federal criminal check. In essence, it’s the authorities in your country that keep records of criminal activities.

Please note that Criminal Record Checks application incurs a fee in every country, EXCEPT New Zealand

Whilst getting a criminal background check will be a somewhat easy and swift affair for some, it won’t be for all. If you are trying to get one from the US, you should count on a more complicated procedure. One that can take up to 10 weeks!

There are ways to expedite the process and we’ll detail those on a country-by-country basis.

 Here are the short-cuts to our step-by-step guides

How to get a criminal background check from

We’ve also included:

This is something you will need when you decide your time in China is up. Given you will likely have clocked up a year (or more) living in China, you will need a criminal background check. Getting this document after you leave is a headache you want to avoid.


How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check from Ireland?

The luck of the Irish is at it again. Ireland has one of the easiest procedures to obtain a criminal record check for your Chinese Visa!

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Request a Police Certificate directly from a local Garda station, Ireland’s National Police. You can also appoint someone to do this for you. You need to fill out the form truthfully. The Gardai at any front desk will be familiar with this form. They are generally quite helpful and knowledgeable and can answer any questions about filling it in. 

2. In your application, include your full name as it is on your birth certificate.
You also must disclose all addresses where you have lived and the reason you
need a criminal background check. This last bit is important, as the
authorities know how to word the document specifically to satisfy the China
work visa requirement. The document incurs a fee of 79 GBP

NB – Don’t forget to request the document be
notarized at time of issue or you’ll need to send it back to them again!

3. Once submitted, the certificate can take anywhere between 2 days and 2 weeks to be issued.

4. Once you have the document, you’ll need to have it Authenticated through
the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (
Legalization Office). In pre-COVID times, you could simply walk into
either of their offices in Dublin or Cork. Now all applications are made by
. This can take at least one week. Authentication costs
€40 at time of writing.

5. Once authenticated, the document also needs to be legalized by the Chinese Embassy in Dublin. This usually takes 3-5 days.

6. Once your criminal record check is ready. You can add it to your cache of docs
needed to make your China visa application


Want to save time and hassle? Seek the services of a Document Legalisation agency like Apostille. These types of agencies can take care of steps 1 – 3 and save yourself the running around.

For a more detailed explanation, check out our post on How to get your criminal background check for Ireland. 

If you need to apply in Northern Ireland, you can
do that

How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check from the UK?

Obtaining a UK criminal background check is perhaps
the least painful process of all. The document is issued by the DBS (Disclosure
and Barring Service) so it’s also known as a DBS check.

You can:

  1. Request a criminal background check with your local police station OR
  2. Apply for what’s known as a Basiconline, if your employer is happy with that. This is a check you can do yourself. This costs 23 GBP.
  3. If your employer asks for an enhanced check, you’ll find details on the above link
  4. To apply, you’ll need to show your driving license, passport, national insurance number, and the address of every place you have lived in the UK in the last 5 years.
  5. Once you have the document, you must have it notarized by a public notary or solicitor in the UK
  6. Then, you’ll need to get the doc authenticated by the FCO – Foreign Commonwealth Office. This service costs 30GBP plus return postage, which obviously varies.
  7. As the last step. You’ll need the criminal background check legalised by a local Chinese Embassy consulate or visa centre. 

You can also utilise the service of a professional
in the UK. Agencies like 
 and CRB Direct can take care of the logistics.

For a more detailed explanation, check out our post on How to get a criminal background check for the UK.

How Can I Get a Criminal History Check from the US?

The USA boasts inarguably the most complicated and time-consuming procedure of all. Both the criminal record check and authentication process require several steps. 

Unsurprisingly, many US residents and citizens choose to employ the services of a ‘channeler’. Mainly because it’s an excruciatingly long and convoluted process when dealing directly with the relevant authorities. Just bear with us whilst we quickly guide you through this!

US Criminal History Check – An Overview

  • In the USA, Criminal History Checks can be issued both locally (through local law enforcement/sheriff’s office) and State-wide (through a State Police Office). They can also be issued federally, through the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). For obvious reasons, the first two are easier and faster to get than the last
  • Not every teacher applying for a China work visa will be required to get an FBI criminal record, but most do. 
  • As stated at the beginning of this article, your employer will tell you which documents, and at which level of government, you will need
  • Your employer will also tell you if the documents need to be notarized and authenticated, or notarised only. The school can also advise you if they’ll accept an authenticated, certified copy. Generally, if the document is signed by the office of the Secretary of State then it needn’t be notarized.
  • Requirements for authentication of documents differ by State! Please check with your local authorities as to their procedure and whether or not you need to authorise your document through your county clerk
 Step-by-step guide for local and State
  1. Apply for a background check report directly with your local and/or State police office. Make sure you inform them that it’s needed for your China work visa application. Request it to be notarized at the time of issue.
  2. You should receive your document with 1-2 days at local and State level
  3. Next, you need to have the document certified by your local Secretary of State Office
  4. And finally, you can get the document legalized by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. You need to get this done in the embassy or consulate that is in its jurisdiction. 

A step-by-step guide for getting one with the FBI

The FBI offers what is known as an Identity History Summary Check but note that this is not to be used for employment purposes. Instead, you’ll need to apply for a Federal Background Check, also known as Form 1-7783.

  1. Visit your local police station and request for your fingerprints to be taken on an FD-258 card (downloadable). Make sure to bring your ID with you. Also, inform them you are applying for a Federal Background Check. Make sure to take two copies!
  2. Apply for your Federal Background Check through the FBI. This requires a form to be filled in, a payment slip to be completed (USD 18) and your fingerprints to be included in your application
  3. Once you have received your criminal record check, you must have it authenticated. This needs to be done by the US State Department in Washington DC.
  4. Then, have your document legalised by a Chinese Embassy in person

Some teachers have reported this entire process taking almost 10 weeks. Through an agency like the US Authentication Service, it can take as little as 2 weeks for an additional USD 100. This of course was pre-COVID times. Allow for longer delays.

If you or your school are unsure. Check out our post on How to get the criminal background check in the US. This is a much deeper dive into the process that could help.

Teach in China_How to obtain a criminal record check for your China work visa

How Can I Get a Criminal Record Check from Canada?

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is in charge of issuing Criminal Record Checks. During your application, you may or may not be required to provide your fingerprints. It all depends on the amount of information you can provide about yourself. The police decide whether or not that’s sufficient to distinguish you from someone else of similar name/date of birth etc. OR if there is, indeed, a criminal record to verify.

Here’s where to start:

  1. Contact your local police station and enquire about applying for a Criminal Record Check. Check the RCMP website for more details
  2. If you are required to provide fingerprints, you will receive a Certified Criminal Background Check which incurs a small fee (location dependent)
  3. If there is NO criminal record, expect to receive your document within just a couple of days although note that COVID-related delays are ongoing. There is also a federal processing fee of 25 CAD, which is usually charged for criminal background checks to be used for foreign visa applications
  4. Once you have your document: have it notarized by a local solicitor, notary public or Canada’s Commissioner of Oaths
  5. Have your document authenticated by the aptly-named Authentication Office of Global Affairs, in Canada
  6. Finally have the doc authenticated, once more, by the CVASC (China Visa Application Service Centre) in Ottawa. Authentication used to be done through the Chinese Embassy of Canada but they have since outsourced this service

IF you are living outside of Canada, you can obtain your Electronic Criminal Record Check through your local Canadian Consulate or Embassy or. Alternatively, through a third-party Canadian agency.

For a more detailed explanation, check out our post on How to get a criminal background check from Canada.

How Can I Get a National Police Check from Australia?

The easy-going Aussies made obtaining a criminal record check very easy. However please note that applications are no longer accepted at police stations.

  1. Apply for a National Police Check (NPC) either online or by post
  2. Make sure you have all the documents you need to accrue 100 ID points (pdf)
  3. Alternatively, apply for a copy of your record, online, through the Australian Federal Police website. The document costs AU$42 if not fingerprints are required and AU$99 is they are.
  4. Have your document notarized by a local notary public.
  5. Have your documents authenticated by your local office of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
  6. Visit a Chinese Embassy in the State/Territory where the document was notarized, and have it legalized.

How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check from New Zealand?

In New Zealand, your application can either be done online or via snail-mail via the Ministry of Justice. Plus, it’s FREE!

  1. Fill in a Criminal Conviction History form
  2. Send in your form, together with copies of
    relevant ID. You can send via mail or email (details at bottom of PDF
    form). You can fill the form online or print and fill by hand – either
    way, your must personally sign the printed copy you send in.
  3. The postal address is:  Criminal Records Unit, Ministry of Justice, SX10161, Wellington
  4. Alternatively, you can send documents as pdf or jpg to [email protected]
  1. You’ll be asked to wait a maximum of 3 weeks to receive your
  2. Have your document authenticated by the Department of Internal Affairs (Authentication Unit)
  3. Have your document verified by the Ministry of
    Foreign Affairs and Trade

Last, but not least, get your final legalisation at the Chinese Embassy of New Zealand

How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check from South Africa?​

The South Africa Police Department can issue your criminal background check, called a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC).

  1. Complete the one-page Police Clearance Certificate form (printable PDF)
  2. Hand in your application to the Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management office, in Pretoria. This is the only office that processes the document. You can do this personally or by post. You can also hand in your form at any police station in South Africa. They’ll forward it on to the Pretoria headquarters, at no extra cost.
  3. If you are abroad, you can do everything by international post. However, the SAPD will NOT mail you the document abroad. Instead, you’ll need to nominate a local contact who’ll receive it on your behalf.
  4. The Pretoria office was closed to the public for many months during the pandemic. They appear to have reopened and are accepting visits. However, it is always best to contact them beforehand and double-check if coming from afar.
  5. Makes sure you specify how you’d like the document delivered. It can be by registered post, pick up in Pretoria OR your nominated police station.
  6. Expect to receive your document in about 2 weeks
  7. Get the document notarized by a notary public
  8. Have your document authenticated by the DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa)
  9. Go and have your document legalized by the Chinese Consulate in Cape Town. Here’s the downloadable PDF form you must fill in.

How Can I Get a Criminal Background Check from China?

Granted, you may not want to think about the logistics of leaving China when you haven’t even arrived yet. However, it still helps to be prepared. Moreover, if you transfer to another school at some point during your tenure, your prospective employer may request a local criminal record check. This is especially true if you’ve been in the country for more than 6 months and your ‘home’ criminal records are no longer considered valid.

What you should know about getting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) in China:

  • The doc is also known as a No Criminal Record (NCR) or 无犯罪记录证明书
  • Chinese cities will only issue PCCs for the time you resided in
    that particular city. They are not issued by province or nation-wide, so
    if you have moved around a bit, you may need to apply for several PCPs.
    Although it may depend on how long you’ve lived in each city.
  • Guangdong is the only province that actually issues state-wide
  • The prerequisites are a mystery. Seriously! Every province seems to
    have its own rules as to how they issue criminal background checks. More
    crucially, most cities will not publicly publish them. You have to enquire
    at each place of residence

How to get your Chinese Criminal Background Check

  • Head to your nearest Public Security Bureau (PBS) office and request what’s known as a PCC. It is here that they will tell you what you need to do and what documents to hand in
  • Once you have your Police Clearance Certificate, you’ll need to take it to a notary public. The notary public will notarize the document and also have it translated into English or (almost) any other language you request

We know that all this bureaucratic run-around sounds overwhelming at first. It can certainly be if you leave it to the last minute. So don’t! Rushing through this process with only a few weeks to spare will result in lost sleep and lost money. Eventually, you’ll just pay anyone anything to get it done. So be ahead of the crowd and start getting your ducks in order as soon as your job is secured. This is, after all, the most time-sucking document you’ll need to apply for a visa, so best make it the first you tackle. Just remember that given the requirements are specific to the city in which you’ll teach, this is not something you can get before you have secured a teaching position.

Contact us here so we can better advise you on how to tackle your teaching in China move, one baby step at a time.

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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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