How to conduct a criminal record check online in South Africa

Understanding your criminal record is crucial for various aspects of life, including employment, travel visas, loans, and more. This guide delves into how to access and interpret criminal record information in South Africa.

What is a Criminal Record?

A criminal record is an official document detailing your criminal offenses as per South African police records. It only reflects convictions or cases where you pleaded guilty. Dismissed charges or cases you weren’t found guilty of won’t appear.

Obtaining Your Criminal Record

There are two main ways to obtain your criminal record in South Africa:

  1. Police Clearance Certificate (PCC): This official document, also known as a Certificate of Conduct, is issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and details your criminal history (convictions and pending cases) or confirms a clean record.
  2. AFISwitch Online Check: Authorized platforms like AFISwitch allow online criminal record checks. You’ll need a valid Certificate of Conduct (PCC) to use this service.

Applying for a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC)

  1. Visit your nearest South African police station or embassy.
  2. Provide your fingerprints, a copy of your ID (or passport), and any additional requested documents.
  3. Fill out the application form and submit proof of payment (R170). Payment details are provided during the application process.
  4. Allow approximately 15 working days (excluding postal time) for processing after your application reaches the Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management (CR & CSM) in Pretoria.
  5. You’ll be notified by phone when your PCC is ready for collection. Bring your ID/passport to collect it from the same station or embassy where you applied.

AFISwitch Online Check

  1. Create an account on the AFISwitch website or app.
  2. Provide your personal details (name, ID number, contact information).
  3. Agree to the terms and conditions.
  4. Pay the required fee (prices and options may change, so refer to the AFISwitch website for current information).
  5. AFISwitch will investigate your background with the CR & CSM and deliver your criminal record check results.

Interpreting Your Criminal Record Results

Both methods will provide one of three results:

  • Clear Record: No criminal convictions or pending cases.
  • Criminal Convictions: Past convictions that might impact your personal or professional life.
  • Pending Cases: Ongoing legal matters. In this case, seek legal advice to understand the implications.

Important Points

  • SAPS doesn’t release your criminal record without consent (except for specific requests from law enforcement or courts).
  • Only applicants flagged as “wanted” by SAPS cannot be issued a PCC.
  • Authorized platforms like AFISwitch charge for their services. Free criminal record checks using only your ID number are not available in South Africa.
  • If you disagree with your results, you can file a complaint with the platform you used or report it to SAPS.

Additional Information

  • The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the primary authority responsible for maintaining criminal records.
  • Authorized platforms like AFISwitch offer fingerprint identification services for background checks.

By following this guide, you can efficiently obtain and understand your criminal record information in South Africa.

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