RCMP Certified Criminal Record Checks for Moving to Panama from Canada

A certified criminal record check is a crucial document if you are planning on moving to Panama from Canada. It goes beyond name-based checks, offering a more definitive way to confirm one’s identity through fingerprint analysis. 

Our blog helps you understand how to get your Canadian police check for moving to Panama from Canada. But remember, our law firm in Panama, NDM, can’t do this for you. You need to apply directly with the Canadian police.

This process is conducted by the RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS), where a fingerprint search is carried out against the National Repository of Criminal Records.

In rare instances, some individuals may have fingerprints that cannot be processed electronically. For these exceptional cases, a paper copy of the fingerprints will be submitted by the police service.

The essence of using fingerprints for criminal record checks lies in its accuracy for confirming identity, relying on informed consent. This includes the permission to share the results with a third party specified by the applicant on their form.

Importantly, the fingerprints sent to CCRTIS are solely for identity verification purposes. They are not stored or added to any database that might be accessed or searched in the future, ensuring privacy and confidentiality in the process.

How to Obtain a Certified Criminal Record Check outside Canada

If you’re a Canadian planning on moving to Panama from Canada, here’s how you can get your criminal record check:

First, if you’re in Panama, you can start by requesting the C-216C RCMP fingerprinting form digitally. Contact the Canadian Embassy in Panama via email at panamcs@international.gc.ca to get this form. This step is essential because it’s the form you’ll use for your fingerprints.

Second, once you have your paper fingerprints, you need to send them to a Canadian company that can change them into electronic format and then submit them to the RCMP in Canada. This is necessary for completing your criminal record check from outside Canada.

Processing times

When you send your fingerprints to the RCMP for a criminal record check, it usually takes about 3 business days to get the results if everything is clear. However, if they need to check things more carefully or if they find something that might be a match with a criminal record, it could take up to 120 business days to finish the process.

Sometimes, it might take longer to process your fingerprints, especially if the information you provided isn’t complete or if the RCMP needs to double-check something with your local police.

The processing time can also change depending on how many people are applying at the same time, the type of checks needed for your fingerprints, and the reason you’re applying for the check.

Keep in mind that after the RCMP finishes processing your request, it will take extra time for you to receive the results by mail. Make sure to allow for this additional mailing time.

If your fingerprint check is taking longer than expected, you should only contact the RCMP if it goes beyond the usual processing time. They process requests in the order they receive them, and they will send the results to the address you gave them.

Lately, there’s been a high demand for RCMP criminal record checks, which can lead to delays. If your application is delayed, the RCMP will automatically give you an extra 30 days to receive your criminal record check, so you don’t need to request this extension yourself.

Processing fees

For getting a certified criminal record check, which uses your fingerprints, you might need to pay some fees. These fees can be local or federal. For example, if you need the check for traveling, like getting a Panama Pensionado visa, a U.S. Entry Waiver, or a document to cross the border, you will have to pay a federal fee.

The cost for the federal part of this check is CDN$ 25 each time. But in some cases, you won’t have to pay this federal fee. For instance, survivors of residential schools and their descendants who want to get back their Indigenous names can have this fee waived.

To not pay the fee, they need to ask for it in writing when they get their fingerprints taken. They can get the form they need to fill out at the fingerprinting place.

Private fingerprinting companies accredited by the RCMP

There is an official government website that lists the companies allowed to take fingerprints for civil reasons and send them electronically to the RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services. 

This list is updated monthly and can change as companies might be added or removed. On this website, you can also find information about how these companies can request to keep their location private. 

Additionally, it’s important to note that there are no private fingerprinting companies outside of Canada that are accredited by the RCMP. This official website is the best source for up-to-date and accurate information on this matter.

Changes to the Authentication Services 

Starting January 11, 2024, Canada will implement a simpler system for verifying official documents for use in other countries, called the Apostille process. This is part of an international agreement known as The Hague Apostille Convention. Here’s what you need to know:

Apostille Certificate

 Instead of getting documents approved first by Global Affairs Canada and then by the foreign country’s embassy (like Panama’s), you will now receive an “apostille” certificate from Global Affairs Canada. This certificate makes your document valid in all countries that are part of the convention, including Panama.

The need for double authentication is gone. 

You won’t have to go through the lengthy process of having your document certified by both Canadian and foreign authorities.

Exceptions and Special Cases

While most documents won’t need further authentication, there are exceptions. For example, pet certificates from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency still require extra steps. Also, if you need a Power of Attorney in Panama, the Panamanian consulates in Canada can directly issue it, making things easier for you.

In summary, the new process means less hassle for Canadians who need to use public documents abroad. With over 120 countries agreeing to this convention, including

Authentication Process at Global Affairs Canada 

After obtaining a Police Clearance Certificate from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the next step for use in Panama involves authenticating the document at Global Affairs Canada. This step is essential for the certificate to be legally recognized in Panama.

Outside of Canada

If you’re in another country and need to get your police clearance certificate recognized for use in Panama, you should first check with the nearest Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate. They can tell you if they can make your document official (authenticate it). If they can’t, you will need to send your documents to an office in Ottawa, Canada.

Remember, getting help from Canadian missions (like embassies or consulates) abroad to make your documents official might cost money. This is because they charge fees for these special services.

Where to Send Your document inside of Canada

You should send your Police Clearance Certificate to Global Affairs Canada if it was issued by the Government of Canada or if it was notarized in: 

  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Yukon

Global Affairs Canada handles the authentication of documents issued or notarized in these specific provinces and territories.

For documents notarized in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, or Saskatchewan, they must be sent to the respective province’s competent authority for authentication. Note that documents issued or notarized in these provinces but sent to Global Affairs Canada will be returned unauthenticated.

Send Your document to Global Affairs Canada

If you need to send your documents for authentication inside Canada, here’s what to do:

  • Fill out an authentication request form on your computer to avoid mistakes. If the form won’t open, try using a PDF program like Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Include the documents you need authenticated.
  • Put a self-addressed stamped envelope or a prepaid courier label in your package. This is for sending your documents back to you.

Important: The office that processes your documents won’t let you know they’ve received them until after a certain amount of time. If you want to make sure they get there, use a mail service that lets you track your package. Avoid using courier waybills with account numbers because they won’t be accepted. Use a prepaid shipping label instead.

Send your package to this address:

Global Affairs Canada
Authentication Services Section (JLAC)
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2

Dropping Off Your Documents

You can drop off your documents at the Global Affairs Canada’s Distribution Centre. They won’t give you in-person updates or services, but they will process your documents like any other request.

Where to go for dropping off documents:

Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive, King Edward entrance
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2

Make sure your envelope is labeled for the Authentication Services Section (JLAC). The drop-off point is open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on public holidays.

Notarizing Police Documents

If you have documents from the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, you don’t need to get them notarized if they:

  • Are signed by the head of Canadian Criminal Real Time/Identification Services.
  • Have the RCMP’s special seal on them.

But if your papers are from a local or provincial police, like the Toronto Police or Ontario Provincial Police, you must get them notarized first. After that, you can send them in for authentication. This means someone official must confirm the documents are real before they are accepted by the authentication office.

Translation Requirements

If your Police Clearance Certificate contains any text in a language other than English or French, a certified translation of the document must be included with your submission.

Authentication Fees and Processing Time

As of March 1, 2024, the processing time for document authentication at Global Affairs Canada is approximately three months from the date of receipt. This timeframe is an average estimate and may vary depending on the document’s nature and the current workload. No fee is charged by Global Affairs Canada for the authentication service.

For faster processing, consider whether your document qualifies for authentication by a provincial competent authority, especially following the recent changes effective from January 11, 2024. Provincial and territorial authorities may offer different processing times and fees.

Additional Notes

It is advised not to use third-party services for submitting your document to Global Affairs Canada as this does not affect the processing time. In urgent and exceptional circumstances, you may contact Global Affairs Canada to request priority processing, although this is generally reserved for situations where waiting the regular processing time is impossible due to unforeseen events.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the successful authentication of your Police Clearance Certificate from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for use in Panama.

Getting your documents returned

Once processed, your documents will be returned to you by mail or, if you included a prepaid label or prepaid envelope, by courier (courier waybills with account numbers are not accepted). If you wish to have them returned by mail, ensure include a self-addressed stamped envelope. 

If you wish to have your documents forwarded to a foreign embassy, high commission or consulate, they will be shipped as per the methods outlined in the next section.

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