Criminal Record Checks Canada FAQs


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We’re answering criminal record checks Canada FAQs so you can understand how to protect your company and comply with industry and legal requirements. With our network of global partners and integrations with popular hiring platforms, Certn has been offering faster international and Canadian criminal record checks since 2017 so you can make more informed hiring decisions.

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Check Criminal Record Canada

The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) is Canada’s centralized information sharing system maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). CPIC stores and provides access to information needed for criminal record checks in Canada.

Certn’s checks help confirm whether a candidate has a criminal history and use your candidate’s name, date of birth, and address history to search Canadian data sources. There are three kinds of CPIC checks depending on the level of detail needed and the nature of the role you’re filling: basic criminal record check, enhanced criminal record check/enhanced police check, and vulnerable sector check.

Background check vendors, like Certn, are authorized to provide the first two types. The third type, vulnerable sector check, is only available in person at a local police station. However, there are some limitations to vulnerable sector checks, which we cover in The Problem with Canada’s Vulnerable Sector Checks.

Criminal Record Checks in Canada

Here’s more information about the three types of criminal record checks in Canada:

  1. Basic Criminal Record Check: This check provides information about an individual’s convictions and pending charges that are on the national criminal database. It typically includes summary and indictable offences. This check uses your name and date of birth to check the CPIC system for a summary of any criminal convictions so is also called a Name-Based Criminal Record Check. Note: If a name-based check can’t confirm a person’s identity, a fingerprint search of the National Repository of Criminal Records can be conducted. This process is conducted by the RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS).
  2. Enhanced Police Information Check (E-PIC): This is a more comprehensive check that includes both the basic/name-based criminal record check and additional local police information, such as police contacts, restraining orders, peace bonds, and other relevant information that may not be captured in the national database.
  3. Vulnerable Sector Check: This check is designed to identify any criminal records that are relevant to a position involving authority over vulnerable populations (paid or volunteer positions). It includes the information from a basic check as well as additional records related to outstanding criminal charges and warrants and other judicial orders (e.g., custody arrangements, restraining orders, etc.). Certn doesn’t conduct these checks.

The requirements and procedures for obtaining CPIC checks vary across different provinces and territories in Canada, so it’s advisable to consult with the local police agency or the organization requesting the check for detailed instructions.

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Criminal Record Checks Canada FAQ

Below, Certn’s screening experts have weighed in on criminal record checks Canada FAQs to help you learn more about these important background checks. Let us know if you have any more questions!

Criminal Record Check Basics

What’s a CPIC criminal record check?

The Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) is a centralized information sharing system maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Criminal record checks Canada, often referred to as CPIC checks as a nod to the database searched, are background checks conducted by authorized agencies or organizations in Canada to obtain information about an individual’s criminal history. These checks are typically requested for purposes such as employment screening, volunteer work, adoption processes, immigration applications, and licensing requirements.

What jobs require a criminal record check?

These checks return information about an individual’s criminal history. They can include details such as arrests, charges, convictions, warrants, and any other relevant criminal information.

In this blog post we cover what jobs require a criminal record check.

How to Access Criminal Record Checks Canada Information

How can I look up someone’s Canadian criminal record for free?

As we mentioned above, the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) is a centralized information system maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The CPIC is responsible for storing and providing access to criminal records in Canada. Canadian criminal records can be requested in person or online, but can only be ordered by individuals or organizations with a legitimate reason to request such information (e.g., pre-employment screening, applying for a security clearance, etc.), as such, you can’t access this information for free.

Who pays for Canada criminal record checks?

In Canada, the person requesting the check is usually the one who pays for it. This usually means that if it’s an employer that needs the check, they pay the associated fees. If you’re running a personal background check on yourself, you usually pay. The fees vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of check being requested. If you need a check for a reason aside from employment, such as for a volunteer position or an adoption process, we recommend contacting the relevant agency or police service in your area to inquire about the specific process and fees involved. In some cases the fees can be discounted or reimbursed — it doesn’t hurt to ask!

How to Run a Criminal Record Check Canada

What kind of information do you have to provide to run a criminal record check?

To run a criminal record check, you have to provide your full name, date of birth, address information, and sometimes fingerprints, to the appropriate authorities. The RCMP has information on certified criminal record checks and fingerprinting.

How do I look up criminal records in Canada?

Canadian criminal records maintained by CPIC can be requested in person or online, but checks on a person can only be ordered by individuals or organizations with a legitimate reason to request such information. Checking criminal records is often required by employers, volunteer organizations, and government agencies as part of the hiring process.

However, published civil, criminal, and penal judicial records and other courthouse details can be accessed for free by anyone searching public repositories such as Québec’s provincial SOQUIJ database where available. This blog post covers the SOQUIJ database and criminal record check Québec

How long does it take to get Canada criminal record checks?

The time it takes to complete any type of background check, criminal or otherwise, varies depending on factors such as the type of information being verified, the responsiveness of the sources and databases, and the efficiency of the screening process. A Canadian criminal record check can typically be completed within a few days to a week, assuming the information is readily available and the sources respond promptly. Though, online checks and automation can speed up the process.

Here’s how long the Certn background check process can take.

Can individuals or organizations access Canadian criminal records for purposes other than employment screening, volunteer work, adoption processes, immigration applications, and licensing requirements?

In Canada, access to criminal records maintained by the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) is typically restricted to authorized agencies or organizations with legitimate reasons for requesting such information. These reasons often include employment screening, volunteer work, adoption processes, immigration applications, and licensing requirements. While individuals or organizations may not access this information for free, some public repositories, such as Québec’s provincial SOQUIJ database, provide access to published civil, criminal, and penal judicial records and courthouse details. However, accessing CPIC criminal records directly usually involves paying associated fees, which vary depending on jurisdiction and the type of check requested.

Are there any differences in the process or requirements for running criminal record checks across different provinces and territories in Canada, and how can employers ensure compliance with relevant regulations when conducting these checks?

The process and requirements for running criminal record checks can indeed vary across different provinces and territories in Canada. Each jurisdiction may have its own set of regulations governing background checks, including the types of checks available, the information required from individuals undergoing checks, and the procedures for obtaining and processing checks. Employers seeking to conduct criminal record checks should consult with the local police agency or the organization requesting the check for detailed instructions specific to their location. By staying informed about regional variations in requirements and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, employers can conduct thorough and legally sound background checks.

What are the specific limitations or challenges associated with obtaining a vulnerable sector check in Canada and how do these checks differ from basic and enhanced criminal record checks?

Vulnerable sector checks in Canada are designed specifically to identify criminal records relevant to positions involving authority over vulnerable populations, whether paid or volunteer roles. While basic and enhanced criminal record checks focus on general criminal history, vulnerable sector checks delve deeper into additional records related to outstanding criminal charges, warrants, and other judicial orders like custody arrangements or restraining orders. However, obtaining vulnerable sector checks can present challenges, as they must be conducted in person at a local police station. These checks aim to ensure the safety of vulnerable individuals by providing comprehensive background information on individuals in positions of trust or authority.

What Do Canadian Criminal Record Checks Reveal

What shows up on a criminal record check in Canada?

The availability and disclosure of criminal records varies by jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have restrictions on the types of convictions that can be reported after a certain period or based on the severity of the offence. Additionally, certain offences may be eligible for expungement or pardons, which can affect their inclusion in a Canadian criminal record check.

How far back does a Canadian criminal record check go?

There’s no limit to how far back a Canadian criminal record check goes, but the type of offence determines how long it stays on your record.

See the answer below for more details.

How long does a criminal record stay on your record in Canada?

In Canada, the length of time that a criminal record stays on your record depends on the type of offence and the outcome of the case. The general guidelines for the retention of criminal records are as follows:

Absolute Discharge: If you receive an absolute discharge, the record is removed from the federal database one year from the date of the discharge.

Conditional Discharge: If you receive a conditional discharge, the record is removed from the federal database three years from the completion of the sentence.

Summary Conviction: A summary conviction for an indictable offence stays on your record for five years from the date of the conviction or the completion of the sentence, whichever is later.

Indictable Conviction: An indictable conviction stays on your record indefinitely unless you apply for a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon). A record suspension, if granted, removes the record from the federal database and sets it aside.

Consult with a lawyer for more precise information about the retention period for a specific offence based on the Criminal Records Act and relevant provincial legislation.

There you have it! We hope what Certn’s experts had to say about criminal record checks Canada FAQs is helpful! Do you still have more criminal record checks Canada FAQs? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Check Criminal Record Canada

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There’s also MyCRC if you need to order a Canadian criminal record check on yourself.