The Criminal Record Certificate is a government document issued by the Ministry of Justice where it is accredited whether or not the applicant has been convicted for a committed crime.
It also informs, if applicable, whether the applicant has been deprived of their liberty and whether or not they have served their sentence and if so, the regime of liberty available to them.
Only final convictions can be included in it, that is, those against which there is no appeal, either because all the possibilities of appeal have been exhausted, or because the corresponding appeal has not been filed in due time and form. Also, only the crimes committed will be recorded, not misdemeanors, since these do not count as criminal records. This information is centralized in the Central Registry of Convicts (Registro Central de Penados).
The Criminal Record Certificate issued is not adequate if you are going to work regularly with minors. Instead, for these cases, is commonly required the Certificate of Crimes of a Sexual Nature.
How to request the Criminal Record Certificate?
The Criminal Record Certificate can be requested in three ways: in person at the Administration Offices assigned for it, by postal mail, or through the Internet (if you have a Digital Certificate or Electronic DNI).
1) Request the Criminal Record Certificate on the Internet
The certificate can be requested from the Ministry of Justice Electronic Headquarters. You must have a Digital Certificate, Electronic DNI, or access password. This method of requesting the certificate implies paying the fees through the payment gateway of the Tax Agency; the download of the certificate is immediate.
Here is a step-by-step tutorial for you to request your Criminal Record Certificate online:
2) Request the Criminal Record Certificate in person
To carry out this procedure, you must have the official form and pay the fee of €3.78 per certificate. All the information on how to request it can be found at the official link from the Ministry of Justice: Request the Criminal Record Certificate in person (sadly this section and the other ones on this page are not available in English).
3) Request the Criminal Record Certificate by Post Mail
You can also request the Criminal Record Certificate by post mail, but you must include certified photocopies of your identification documents and proof of having paid the respective fees. You have all the information in the section Request the Criminal Record Certificate by post mail.
Example of a Criminal Record Certificate
The Criminal Record Certificate model is similar to this:
Cancellation of criminal records
The criminal records of convicted persons cannot have a lifetime duration but must be limited to a certain period of time, after which the cancellation of the record may be requested with the same form. In order to obtain the cancellation, you must have fulfilled your civil responsibilities (partial payment is accepted and this requirement will not have to be met if you are insolvent) and not have committed crimes again within a period of 6 months for light penalties; 2 years for sentences of less than one year and for reckless crimes; 3 years for the rest of less serious penalties; and 5 years for serious ones, all of them counting from the expiration of the sentence.
In which cases can you request a Criminal Record Certificate from the SEPE?
The Voluntary Return Program (APRE) allows non-EU citizens from certain countries to voluntarily return to their country of origin and collect their benefits there.
One of the requirements to be able to access this program is not to be involved in any of the causes of prohibition to leave the national territory listed in the Immigration Legislation. Article 22 of Royal Decree 557/2011, of April 20, indicates the cases of prohibition of foreigners leaving the national territory, one of them being those convicted for committing crimes in Spain under penalty of deprivation of liberty, and where applicable, detained for extradition by the respective countries until the administrative resolution is issued.
The SEPE (State Public Employment Service) requests the Criminal Record Certificate to prevent someone, with a criminal conviction, from requesting and collecting unemployment benefits when leaving Spain for their country of origin.
They will also request this certificate in the event that you request the Voluntary Productive Return, which is the one intended for those who are not entitled to APRE, but who want to return to their country and work there as entrepreneurs.
You have to apply for these aids, not at the SEPE but at the Social Services of the town hall or your Autonomous Community, at the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration, or at the organizations that collaborate in the program.
Employment and the Criminal Record Certificate
Sometimes employers have reservations regarding what is said by the candidates in the Curriculum Vitae, especially when there are temporary gaps. For this reason, and especially in certain professional fields such as the care of minors or the elderly, or health professions, employers follow the internal policy of requesting a Criminal Record Certificate, a behavior that is legal at all points.
It is possible that if you wish to work in other countries of the European Union, they will ask you for this certificate, so it is advisable to request it before going abroad. However, you can process it directly at the Spanish consulate in the area of the country where you reside. In both cases, you will have to indicate this to the official in charge when you request the certificate and, if applies, you will have to translate it and legalize it with the Hague apostille.
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