Home SIA Licence Everything you need to know about SIA Criminal Records Checks for those who have lived overseas
Everything you need to know about SIA Criminal Records Checks for those who have lived overseas

Everything you need to know about SIA Criminal Records Checks for those who have lived overseas


In our fun facts blog we found out what a diversely rich industry, security is with licence holders from almost 200 countries. 

However, if you have lived overseas, prior to your recent licence application, it will be your job to help the SIA with providing information about yourself. 

In this blog, we look at the rules surrounding overseas applications and what you will need to provide. 

How do I know if I need to apply as an applicant who has lived overseas?

If you have lived in a foreign country, including the Republic of Ireland or any British overseas territories within the last five years then you have to apply for your licence using the rules for overseas applications. The rules of applying for a licence if you’ve lived overseas are especially for those people who have spent at least six consecutive months in another country in the last five years. This rule applies to both frontline and non-front line applications.

What will I need to apply for my licence?

One of the most important aspects of your application is securing a criminal record from the country that you have stayed in. What’s important about this record is that it must be from an official source. An official source is considered the government body responsible for issuing criminal records. This is because the SIA would need to verify that the record you have provided is authentic.

It is also your responsibility to ensure that the criminal record you provide is submitted in English if you’ve lived in a country that doesn’t speak the language. You will be expected to submit a translated version of the record from a recognised translator.

What if I can’t get my criminal record from an official source?

There may be some extraordinary circumstances where a criminal record cannot be provided by an official source. One example of this could be that the government of the country that you visited has collapsed and most government services have been suspended. In some countries, criminal checks may not exist and so it’s impossible to get a record.

In these cases, the SIA will make its own thorough investigations to determine if a criminal record can be acquired or not. If after investigation it is revealed that a criminal record cannot be provided then SIA may accept an oath sworn in front of an EU registered solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths verifying that the individual has no criminal convictions for the time that they lived in that foreign country.

The oath should include:

✔️A statement of the period of time and country it covers. 

✔️The applicant’s name and address. 

✔️A statement regarding the applicant’s criminal record. This statement should include that the individual has no outstanding charges, cautions, warnings, community resolutions or admonishments. It should also state any past offences, cautions, warnings, community resolutions, admonishments or any outstanding charges with full dates and details of the offence or sentence. 

✔️A declaration to the SIA that the information in the sworn oath is true. 

✔️Your signature and the date. 

✔️The signature of the solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths. It should also have the stamp or address of the solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths. It should also be noted that the solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths must issue the document with their letterhead so that the

authenticity of the sworn oath can be easily verified.

In addition to this, you will also need a character reference from a fully qualified professional who knew you personally during the time that you were abroad. 

Who can provide a character reference?

The qualified professionals who can provide you with a character reference are as follows:



✔️Chairman / Director of a Limited Company

✔️Commissioner of Oaths



✔️General Practitioner

✔️Justice of the Peace

✔️Member of Parliament

✔️Officer of the Armed Services (active or retired)

✔️Warrant Officer or Chief Petty Officer

✔️Police Officer

✔️Solicitor / Lawyer

✔️Teacher / Lecturer

✔️A Refugee support worker, an Asylum caseworker or a Social worker can provide

character references for a person who was a refugee when they stayed in a foreign country.

All references should clearly state why the recommender believes that the person had no criminal convictions while in a foreign country. Before a character reference is accepted the SIA will make sure to thoroughly review it to make sure it is credible and true. In some instances, you may be asked to provide more information. 

The SIA may seek more information if:

✔️There are multiple gaps in the oath and/or character reference

✔️There is reason to believe that more information is needed to make a final decision

about a case.

What are the crimes that the SIA will consider that may affect the granting of my licence?

The SIA has listed some of the crimes, if committed overseas, that may affect the granting of your licence. They are as follows:

✔️Violent or Abusive Behaviour – includes but is not limited to violent and or abusive offences including stalking and harassment.

✔️Espionage/Terrorism – offences against the Aviation Security Act 1982, AntiTerrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the Terrorism Act 2000.

✔️Offensive Weapons – this charge includes offences relating to the possession, use or sale of offensive weapons such as knives, blades, crossbows and chemical or biological weapons.

✔️Firearms Offences – includes offences of the illegal possession, certification, carrying and use of firearms.

✔️Dishonesty – includes offences relating to a number of crimes some of which are theft, burglary, robbery, handling stolen goods, blackmail and attempting to pervert the course of justice. It also includes perjury, breach of bail conditions and conveyance of prohibited items into or out of prison.

✔️Proceeds of Crime – these are offences against the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

✔️Abuse or Neglect of Children – these offences relate to cruelty to children, indecent photographs of children and child abduction. It also includes child begging and prostitution

✔️Sexual Offences – these are offences that breach the Sexual Offences Act 2003, Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.

✔️Drug Offences – anything that implicates a person on charges of trafficking, importation, production, supply, cultivation, or possession of any controlled drugs.

✔️Criminal Damage – these offences include vandalism and the damaging of property.

✔️Social Security Offences – these offences have to do with breaches of social security regulations, the false representations for obtaining a benefit or the making of statements known to be false and fraudulent.

What does the SIA do with my criminal record?

If you have been found guilty of a criminal offence in a foreign country, then you may be ineligible for a licence. However, it’s best to check out our page (A-Z criminal checks) to see what criminal offences will bar you from receiving your licence. You should remember however that you are expected to inform the SIA if you have outstanding charges against

you or if you are aware of an ongoing police investigation in the country that you stayed in.

The SIA will use your record to compare the offence committed in the foreign country to its equivalent in England. 

What can I do if my licence is refused?

If the SIA is thinking about refusing your application you will be sent a letter. Then you will have 21 days to reply to give more information about why you think your licence should not have been denied. If you fail to reply in 21 days your application will be denied. 

What if I was refused because of a mistake?

If it is an automatic refusal and you think that there was a mistake on the SIA’s part you can challenge the decision by sending evidence to the SIA. The cases where this may be applicable are usually if there was:

✔️An error in identity

✔️An error in assessing criminality

✔️You have proof of remand time that impacts the time that you have been free from sentence restrictions which will change the decision from an automatic refusal to a CAF.

✔️You have proof that a Community Order was discharged early enough to change the decision from an automatic refusal to a CAF.

How should I provide the evidence to prove that the decision should be changed?

If you believe that there is a need to change the SIA’s decision about your licence then you should try to provide evidence of why. The evidence that will be accepted by the SIA includes:

✔️Character references must be signed and dated. Be sure to include a contact number.

✔️You should try to show evidence of your rehabilitation since an offence was committed. This could be in the form of voluntary training in relation to the original offence or other community activities.

✔️Any mitigation which concerns your offence.

What should I include in a character reference?

A character reference could be a very important part of getting an SIA decision to reverse so you should be sure to include the following: 

✔️The name and contact details of the person who is giving you the reference. It should also have a telephone number that they can be reached at during the day.

✔️It must be signed and dated by the referee and must clearly explain your referee’s position and type of employment.

✔️Make sure you describe their relationship to you including the length of the relationship and your referee should also be aware of the specific offences which are relevant to the application

✔️Try to have your referee explain some of the conditions under which the offence was committed including why you may have committed the crime. Have your referee explain the changes you’ve since made to show that you have been rehabilitated since the crime was committed

Who should I use for a character reference? 

It is important to remember that the SIA will give more consideration to character references that come from someone who does not have a personal interest in your desire to secure a licence. That means a previous employer or members of standing within your community will be given more consideration than friends, family or a current employer.

Even though you are encouraged to send as many character references as you can it does not necessarily affect the SIA’s decision. What’s more important is the details that are listed in the reference. 

Some of the information that will not help your application for a licence include the following:

✔️Your current financial situation

✔️Whether you’ve ever held a private security industry licence 

✔️Whether you hold a firearms licence

✔️Other SIA licensing decisions that you believe are similar to yours

✔️Any type of emotional circumstances that may have caused you to commit the offence 

While the SIA does not usually look for information about you that is held by others or organisations, they do consult with the police and other local authorities when considering mitigation. 

When should I submit my overseas criminal record?

When you have decided that you want to become a security professional and you are ready to submit your application to become licensed, you should also submit your overseas criminal record. Even though this is the ideal time, if you are still waiting on your overseas record you can submit your application. It may delay your licence though as the SIA need at least five years of your criminal background to be verified before you can be approved.

What should I do if I don’t know how to get a criminal background check from the country I stayed in?

Since the criminal background check is so important for you to get your licence, you should make every effort to do so. If you are not sure how to go about doing this, it’s best that you contact that country’s embassy or consulate to find out how you can go about securing the record. You can also try to contact that country’s official security ministry to try and get more details.

What if I lived in another country as a member of the armed services?

If you served in the armed forces and were stationed abroad, then you can request an extract of your service records to present to the SIA. The extract from your records must include any convictions if any, and your general conduct over the last five years. 

What if I already have a security licence issued from a foreign country

If you have a licence that was issued to you in a foreign country that included having a criminal background check then you may submit this to the SIA. This record can be used as a reference for your good character. You should also send the SIA additional information like the validity of your licence and what sector it allows you to work in. In the event the SIA does not recognise the licence they will make contact with the country in question to clarify more details.

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