How do I get an apostille on a criminal record check?

Published on Friday, June 7, 2019

You are applying for a position overseas and have been asked to submit a criminal record check. Okay, no problem. But you’ve also been told that you need to get an “apostille” before your criminal record check will be accepted. Huh? If you are wondering “how do I get an apostille on a criminal record check?” read on. We explain what an apostille is and lead you through the steps to get one in Canada. To wrap up, we’ve got a few things to watch for when getting an apostille on your criminal record check.

What is an apostille?

The apostille process is used to verify the authenticity of a document from one country, so that this document can be officially recognized in other countries. Every country that is a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention can issue an apostille. Signatory countries will also recognize an apostille from other countries.

However, Canada has not signed the Hague Apostille Convention. So Canada does not actually issue apostilles. Instead, the Canadian process is called “document authentication and legalization”. If you have been told you need to get an apostille on a Canadian criminal record check, what you actually will be doing is authenticating and legalizing this document.

How do I get an apostille in Canada?

The Canadian apostille process – officially called document authentication and legalization – involves three steps:

The first step is to prepare your criminal record check for processing. If you have a Certified Criminal Record Check with fingerprints issued by RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, you do not need to get it notarized. If you have a “basic” criminal record check issued by a local police department, you will need to have it notarized before it can be authenticated and legalized. You may need to supply supporting documents as well, depending on where the criminal record check will be legalized (see Step 3 below), .

The second step is to have your Criminal Record Check authenticated at Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa. They will verify the authenticity of your criminal record check, and then place a large red stamp directly on the document. Your criminal record check is now authenticated.

The third and final step is to legalize your criminal record check. Legalization is done at the embassy or consulate of the country where you will presenting this document. The consular staff at the embassy will ensure that your criminal record check has been authenticated by Global Affairs Canada, that it meets their requirements, and that you have supplied any required supporting documents. When satisfied, they will place a stamp or sticker directly on your criminal record check. Your criminal record check is now legalized and will be officially recognized in this country.

A few things to watch out for

There are a few things to watch out for when getting an apostille on a criminal record check. In some circumstances it is possible to process what is known as a “certified true copy” of a document, instead of the original. We don’t recommend doing this with a criminal record check. If you do want to do this, make sure in advance that whoever you are presenting your criminal record check to will accept a copy.

Another thing you want to think about is how long your criminal record check is valid. Criminal record checks are often only considered valid for six months (and sometimes a year) after they have been issued. If you need to apostille (authenticate and legalize) your criminal record check, factor in the time needed for this in your calculations.

How can I get more information?

We specialize in expertly navigating the Canadian apostille process for our clients, and over the years we have processed many thousands of criminal record checks. Our website has a wealth of information on the Canadian apostille process (authentication and legalization), and on the particular issues to look out for when authenticating and legalizing criminal record checks. Or better yet, contact our friendly experts directly. We would welcome the chance to explain the process to you, answer your questions, and outline your options – no obligation and no pressure. Phone us toll free at 1-888-433-1011 or submit our quick form.