Navigating the Police Clearance Certificate Process in South Africa: Expert Insights

Navigating the Police Clearance Certificate Process in South Africa: Expert Insights

For South Africans embarking on visa applications or emigration, a crucial document often required is the Police Clearance Certificate (PCC).

Additionally, South Africans residing abroad need this document when applying for permanent residency or foreign citizenship.

In many countries, this certificate is referred to as a ‘certificate of good conduct.’ But what are the fundamental requirements for obtaining this vital document, and where can you find assistance?

To answer these questions, we turned to the experts at to provide insights into the process.

Understanding the Difference

It’s important to note that a criminal background check is not synonymous with a SAPS Police Clearance Certificate.

While background checks can confirm the presence of a criminal record, they do not provide details about the offenses, if any exist.

Companies like Afiswitch typically conduct background checks for purposes such as employment and loan applications, where authorities aim to assess an applicant’s character.

The Role of SAPS Police Clearance Certificate

In contrast, a SAPS Police Clearance Certificate involves a comprehensive background check process, including the disclosure of criminal offenses (if any) and expungements.

Unlike background checks, police clearance certificates are issued only after the Criminal Records Center conducts thorough verification and validation processes.

The Ink Fingerprint Requirement

No, the SAPS Criminal Records Center exclusively accepts ink fingerprints for Police Clearance Certificate applications.

To initiate the process, individuals seeking an SA police clearance certificate must have their fingerprints taken in ink.

Although police stations are the typical location for fingerprinting, it is permissible to have fingerprints taken anywhere, provided that a notary public, lawyer, or commissioner of oaths certifies and stamps the fingerprints for authenticity.

Streamlining the Application Process

While you have the option to apply for your clearance certificate at your local police station, this can be a time-consuming process, as stations often send applications to the CRC only when their application backlog is substantial, which may take several months.

A more efficient approach is to utilize a South African concierge service like, which manages the entire process on behalf of clients.

Name Inclusion on Your PCC

By default, your maiden name will not appear on your certificate unless you specifically request it.

If you wish to include your maiden name on your South African Police Clearance, you must provide a copy of your marriage certificate, indicating the name change.

Additionally, you need to submit a copy of your ID or passport displaying your current surname(s). Generally, only the marriage certificate serves as sufficient evidence of the name change.

Application Submission Process

Unfortunately, civilians are not permitted to submit their PCC applications directly to the CRC.

Only police stations and registered couriers are authorized to handle applications. As a registered courier, can assist you in obtaining your South African Police Clearance, typically within a timeframe of 5 to 30 working days from the date of application, excluding courier times.

They can also facilitate the apostillation of your documents for official use abroad.

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