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The Spanish Criminal Record Certificate, and getting a certified translation of yours for use abroad

One of the most common requests we get for certified translation is that of the Spanish Criminal Record Certificate. It’s often required by those starting a job in the UK who have previously been living in Spain, whether they’re Spanish citizens, Brits returning home, or anyone else in a similar situation. So, here’s some information on the Spanish criminal record certificate, what it consists of, how to apply for it, and of course, how to get a certified translation of yours, at the cheapest price, guaranteed.

What is the Spanish criminal record certificate?

The Spanish Criminal Record Certificate, also sometimes known as a Spanish Police Record Check, Spanish Police Record Certificate or Spanish Criminal Background Check, is a government document issued by the Spanish Ministry of Justice showing whether or not the applicant has been convicted of a crime in Spain. It also states whether or not they have been deprived of their liberty in the country and whether or not they have served their sentence and, if so, the regime of liberty available to them.

The Spanish criminal record certificate may only contain final sentences, that is, sentences against which no appeal is possible, either because all possibilities of appeal have been exhausted or because the appropriate appeal has not been lodged in the time allowed. Only true crimes committed will be recorded, not misdemeanours, as these do not count towards a criminal record. This information is centralised in the Central Register of Prisoners.

The Spanish criminal record certificate issued is not adequate if you are going to work regularly with minors. For these cases, the of Sexual Offences certificate is required.

How to apply for the criminal record certificate

The Spanish Criminal Record Certificate can be requested in three ways: in person at the administration offices assigned for this purpose, by post, or online (if you have a digital certificate or electronic ID card).

1) Application for the Spanish Criminal Record Certificate in person

The Spanish Criminal Record Certificate can be obtained at the Civil Registries, the territorial offices of the Ministry of Justice, and in Madrid at the central office for citizen services. To do this you must have the official form and pay the fee of 3.66 euros per certificate. You can find all the information on how to request it at this official link of the Ministry of Justice.

2) Application for the Spanish Criminal Record Certificate by post

You can also ask for the Spanish Criminal Record Certificate by post, but you must include photocopies of the matching identification documents and proof of payment of the fees. You can find all the information at this link. Requesting a criminal record certificate by post.

3) Application for the Spanish Criminal Record Certificate online

The certificate can be requested from the electronic headquarters of the Ministry of Justice at this link: Request for Criminal Record Certificate. You must have a digital certificate, electronic ID card or password. Requesting the certificate involves paying the fees through the Tax Office payment gateway and downloading the certificate is not immediate, it can take between 24 hours and three working days. By providing an email address, the Ministry of Justice informs the citizen of when the electronic download of their certificate is available.

Some readers have warned us that an error may occur in the request ("Error in the identity data provided. Please check your personal details and enter them as they appear on your DNI or NIE identity card") and that this is resolved by indicating on the form the name of the father and mother, as stated on the DNI of the person making the application.

Example of a certificate of criminal record

An example a Spanish criminal record certificate is shown below, and a certified translation of one can be seen, here.

Cancellation of criminal records

The Spanish criminal record does not have a lifetime duration and must be limited to a certain time, after which the cancellation of the records can be requested. In order to obtain the cancellation it will be necessary to have satisfied the civil responsibilities (payment by instalments is admitted and this requirement will not have to be fulfilled if the person is insolvent) and not to have committed crimes again within 6 months for light penalties; 2 years for penalties of less than one year and for imprudent offences; 3 years for other less serious penalties; and 5 years for serious penalties, all of them counting from the moment the penalty is extinguished.

When can you apply to the Public Employment Service (SEPE) for a Spanish Criminal Record Certificate?

In the Voluntary Return Programme programme allows non-EU citizens from certain countries to return voluntarily to their country of origin and receive their benefits there. One of the requirements for access to this programme is not to be covered by any of the grounds for prohibition of departure from the national territory provided for in the legislation on aliens and immigration. Article 22 of Royal Decree 557/2011, of 20 April, indicates the cases in which foreigners are prohibited from leaving national territory, one of which is having been convicted of committing crimes in Spain and sentenced to deprivation of liberty, and the other is those who are subject to and, where appropriate, detained for extradition by the respective countries, until the administrative decision is issued.

The SEPE requests the Spanish criminal record certificate in order to prevent someone, who has been convicted of a crime, from being able to apply for and receive unemployment benefit when leaving Spain for their country of origin.

In the Voluntary Return system, they will also ask for the certificate of antecedents in the case that you ask for the Voluntary Return, which is the one destined to those that do not have right to the APRE, but that want to return to their country and to work there as entrepreneurs. These grants must be requested not from the SEPE but from the Social Services of the local council or the Autonomous Community, from the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration or from the organisations that collaborate in the programme.

The Spanish criminal record certificate in the field of employment, and getting a certified translation to another language.

Sometimes employers have reservations about what candidates say in their CVs, especially when temporary vacancies are listed. For this reason, and especially in certain professional areas such as childcare, eldercare or the health professions, employers follow an internal policy of requesting a criminal record, which is legal in all respects.

If you wish to work in other EU countries, or the UK, you may be required to provide a criminal record. However, you can apply for it directly at the Spanish consulate in the area of the country where you reside. You will then need a certified translation into the local language, for which you can rely on us the for the cheapest service on the market, guaranteed. Just get in touch with your certificate:

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