Obtaining a South African Police Clearance Certificate is a crucial step for individuals looking to work, study, or live abroad, as well as those seeking certain professional licenses or employment that is of a higher security level. 

This certificate, issued by the South African Police Service (SAPS), verifies whether an individual has a criminal record within the borders of South Africa. 

A police clearance certificate can only be issued by the SAPS Criminal Records Centre in Pretoria, where details of applicants are checked and cross-checked for a criminal record, a process that is very time-consuming considering the backlog the Criminal Records Centre is experiencing.

In light of internal problems and system shut-downs due to Eskom’s load shedding, as well as the increase in applications, this situation doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, adding more time than ever before for the completion of any application.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how to get a South African Police Clearance Certificate (PCC), ensuring you’re well-equipped to meet the requirements hassle-free.

How to Get a South African Police Clearance Certificate?

Before we get into the details of obtaining a PCC directly via SAPS, the reason why so many individuals make use of third party experts today is to avoid the frustration that comes with applying on your own.

This is where the team at Doc Assist, a South African based document procurement company, stands head above shoulders of the rest in the industry, with this team offering honest, verifiable information that makes the entire process so much easier than going it alone.

Under the current circumstances, anyone that promises to get you a PCC within 3 to 7 days is being underhanded in making promises like this, which is not what you’ll get when dealing with the professionals at Doc Assist.

This team is reliable, trustworthy and has a constant finger on the pulse of what’s happening in terms of how long it will take to get a South African PCC, which means that you’ll get an honest assessment as your application proceeds through the system.

Determine the Purpose for Applying for a PCC

Before you dive into the application process, it’s important to determine the purpose for which you need the police clearance certificate. Whether it’s for immigration, employment, or any other legal requirement, knowing the purpose will help you provide the necessary documents and follow the correct procedure.

This knowledge does help to avoid being given the run-around that is often encountered when trying to obtain official documentation.

Gather the Required Documents

The documents you need to submit along with your application can vary, based on your circumstances and the purpose of the certificate. 

Generally speaking, you’ll need:

  1. A certified copy of your South African ID or passport.
  2. Fingerprints: You’ll need to have your fingerprints taken at your local police station. Make sure you receive the standard SAPS fingerprint form (SAPS 91a).
  3. Proof of payment: The application fee varies depending on whether you apply within South Africa or from abroad. Keep the proof of payment ready.
  4. 2 Copies of a recent passport-sized photograph.

The SAPS Application Process

Once you have all the necessary documents, you can proceed with the application process:

  1. Complete the Application Form: Download the SAPS 91 form from the SAPS website or collect it from your local police station. Fill it out accurately, providing all required information. Any mistakes made on this form could mean that your application gets returned, forcing you to start all over again.
  2. Fingerprinting: If you’re in South Africa, visit your local police station for fingerprinting. If abroad, visit the nearest South African consulate or embassy for this step. Ensure your fingerprints are taken on the official SAPS fingerprint form (SAPS 91a).
  3. Pay the Application Fee: Pay the applicable fee through the provided payment methods, and make sure to retain the proof of payment, as you’ll need to submit it along with your application.
  4. Submit Documents: Compile all the required documents, including the completed application form, fingerprints, proof of payment, passport photo, and copies of your ID or passport. If applying from abroad, you can either mail these documents to the SAPS Criminal Record Centre or submit them to the nearest South African mission.

Of course, if you choose to apply via Doc Assist, the team is able to assist you even if you’re currently living overseas.

Processing Time and Collection

The processing time for a South African Police Clearance Certificate can, under the current circumstances, take up to 8 weeks due to the backlog. Additionally, there is no guarantee that the police station you apply at will send the application at the time you apply.

The bag of PCC applications will only be sent to the CRC in Pretoria if there are a sufficient amount of applications to warrant it.

Once your certificate is ready, you’ll receive it via the chosen method of collection – either by mail if you’re applying from abroad or directly from your local police station if you’re within South Africa. Make sure to keep the original certificate safe, as multiple copies might not be issued, and take your original ID or passport for confirmation of identity.

Tips and Considerations

  • Plan Ahead: Since the application process can take some time, it’s wise to start the process well in advance to avoid any delays in your plans.
  • Accurate Information: Ensure all the information you provide on the application form is accurate and matches your official documents. Any discrepancies can lead to delays or even the rejection of your application.
  • Follow Instructions: Pay close attention to the instructions provided by the SAPS regarding the application process. Using the correct forms, providing the required documents, and following their guidelines will help ensure a smooth process, which includes making sure you have a reference number for your application.

Get Your South African PCC Via Doc Assist

If it seems that getting your PCC will be a complex and daunting process, that’s because it is, without the right guidance and assistance. This is where the invaluable experience of the team at Doc Assist comes into play.

From first contact with Doc Assist to the day you receive your couriered PCC, you’ll know you’re dealing with consummate professionals. Cut out the red tape, cut out the frustration and waste of time by contacting Doc Assist, who will guide you through an entirely seamless process of obtaining a police clearance certificate far sooner than if you choose to do it on your own.


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