How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?
What is a Certificate of Clearance?
Have you been asked to produce a Certificate of Clearance (COC)? The COC is used to certify that a person has no criminal conviction in a particular country within a stipulated period of time. It is also commonly referred to as a “Police Clearance Certificate”, “Certificate of Good Conduct” or “Criminal Record Extract”.
You may be required by a foreign government authority or institution to obtain a COC for overseas purposes, such as migration, adoption, overseas employment or further education.
In Singapore, the COC is issued by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Singapore Police Force (SPF). This article will explain:
Eligibility Criteria for Obtaining a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore
Non-Singapore citizens (Permanent Resident or foreign national)
If you are a non-Singapore citizen, you are required to first make an appeal for eligibility via the SPF e-services website.
As a pre-requisite to making an appeal, you must be above the age of 16. You must have also resided in Singapore for at least 6 months, under a valid pass issued by the Immigrations Checkpoint Authority (ICA) or the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Appeals are considered on a case-by-case basis. You will be notified of the outcome of your appeal within 5 working days. You will be able to apply for the COC (see below for the procedure) only after your appeal has been approved.
Singapore citizens, whether residing in Singapore or overseas, do not need to make an appeal for eligibility. Instead, they can proceed to directly apply for a COC.
The steps for applying for a COC are set out below.
How to Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore
Applications for a Certificate of Clearance are to be made on the SPF e-services website, under the section “Certificate of Clearance“.
You will need the following documents for your application:
- Passport-size photograph of yourself (that is borderless on a white background, with a minimum resolution of 400 x 514 pixels)
- Documentary proof stating that a COC is required by the foreign authority and the purpose of the COC
- Scanned copy of the biometric page of your valid passport
- Scanned copy of your NRIC/ID (front and back)
A failure to provide the required documents may result in delays or rejection of the application.
The application process is as follows:
- Log in to the SPF e-services website via Singpass or, if you are a non-Singapore citizen, using your Foreign Identification Number (FIN)/ID and current valid passport number
- Fill in your personal particulars
- Upload a passport-size photograph of yourself (in either JPEG, BMP or PNG format)
- Fill in your reasons for applying for a COC
- Upload the required documents (in PDF format)
- Confirm your details: Ensure that your email address is stated correctly, since notification of your application status will be sent via email
- Indicate your preferred collection mode: Fill in the complete postal address that the COC is to be mailed to
- Make payment via credit/debit card or iBanking
The processing fee for each COC application is S$55. An additional S$5 fee applies if the certificate is to be posted to an applicant outside Singapore.
Additional steps for applying for a Certificate of Clearance for non-Singapore citizens
In addition to the steps laid out above, non-Singapore citizens are required to submit an original hardcopy of their fingerprint impressions. This requirement does not apply to Singapore citizens. The fingerprint form can be found on the SPF e-services website.
If you are a non-Singapore Citizen residing in Singapore, you will receive a notification to book a fingerprint appointment upon the acceptance of your COC application. Your fingerprint impressions are to be taken at the Police Cantonment Complex within 6 months from the date of application.
On the date of your appointment, you should bring along:
- The acknowledgment slip generated at the end of your booking (including the reference number of your COC application), as well as
- An identity document for verification.
If you are a non-Singapore Citizen residing overseas, you can get your fingerprint impressions taken at a police station or an authorised office in your country of residence. You should then mail an original hardcopy of your fingerprint impressions, along with your COC application receipt, to the COC Office. The COC Office’s address is:
Certificate of Clearance Office
Blk D, #02-07/08
Police Cantonment Complex
391 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088762
What happens after you have submitted your Certificate of Clearance application?
If your COC application is accepted, an email notification will be sent out and a hardcopy of the COC will be mailed to your postal address.
The general processing time of a COC application is 5 working days, excluding the time taken by the courier to deliver the COC.
It is important to note that the issuance of a COC does not form part of the SPF’s core function and the SPF is under no obligation to issue a COC. If your application is unsuccessful, there are nevertheless alternative ways of obtaining a declaration of no criminal conviction, which will be shared below.
How to Obtain a Duplicate Copy of the Certificate of Clearance
You may wish to apply for a duplicate copy of your COC if you misplaced the original COC or require additional copies. An application for a duplicate COC can be made on the SPF e-services website if the initial COC application was made within the last 6 months.
If the initial COC application had been made more than 6 months ago, you will have to apply for a new COC instead.
In your application for a duplicate COC, you will have to fill in the reference number of your original COC application. A fee of S$25 will be chargeable for each duplicate COC issued. You can collect the duplicate COCs at the Police Cantonment Complex or opt to have it mailed to your postal address.
Alternatives to Obtaining a Certificate of Clearance
Besides applying for a COC, you can obtain a declaration of no criminal records by making a statutory declaration in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths or a qualified lawyer. A statutory declaration is a legal document containing a statement made to declare something to be true.
In some cases, making a statutory declaration may be easier than applying for a COC. This is especially so if you are a non-Singapore citizen, since there is no guarantee that the SPF will issue a COC.
Making a statutory declaration is also likely to be a cheaper alternative to applying for a COC. The fee that Commissioners for Oaths can charge is S$25 per statutory declaration and S$5 per exhibit referred to in the document (if any).
Before making a statutory declaration, however, you should first ascertain whether the foreign authority requiring a certification of no criminal conviction will accept a statutory declaration in place of a COC.
For further information, please refer to our article on statutory declarations in Singapore.
A COC is used to certify that a person has no criminal conviction and you can obtain one via making an online application on the SPF e-services website. The COC application process in Singapore involves different steps for Singapore citizens and non-Singapore citizens.
In particular, if you are a non-Singapore citizen, you are eligible to create an application only after making a successful appeal on the same SPF website. You are also required to submit fingerprint impressions for your application to be considered.
Alternatively, if you have decided to make a statutory declaration of no criminal conviction instead of applying for a COC, you can use our Find a Lawyer service to get in touch with a Commissioner for Oaths or qualified lawyer for this purpose.
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