Obtaining a Copy of your Criminal Record
Information and your rights
The Ministry of Justice may hold information about you in relation to criminal and traffic convictions that has been processed through the justice system. This information is held in the Ministry's courts and collections (fines) systems.
Under the Privacy Act 1993, you are entitled to obtain information about yourself and, if you consider that the information is not correct, you may apply to have the information corrected.
You may, if you wish, authorise the release of the information to a third party eg. another person or agency, an employer, job agency, solicitor etc.
You may not apply for information about another person, even a close family member, without their written permission.
The Privacy Unit of the Ministry of Justice provides information on criminal and traffic convictions. This record lists only convictions and sentencing from court appearances. This does not include Youth Court charges.
Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004
This legislation is designed to allow individuals with less serious convictions who have been conviction free for at least seven years and who meet all other relevant criteria to put their past behind them. It will enable eligible individuals to conceal convictions in most circumstances. There are some exceptions when individuals’ convictions will continue to be disclosed.
The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 is an automatic scheme – therefore, it is not necessary to apply for a ‘clean slate’. If you meet all the criteria for concealing previous convictions you are eligible to have your convictions concealed by the Ministry. Your convictions will be entitled to be concealed as long as you continue to meet all the criteria. Those who do not meet all criteria will be ineligible for ‘clean slate’ purposes and will receive a criminal convictions report.
Information about the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 is available here.
You may authorise the release of your personal information to a third party e.g. another person or agency, an employer, job agency, solicitor etc. If you are eligible for a ‘clean slate’ record you will have your convictions concealed.
Note that a third party commits an offence if, without lawful authority under the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act, that party requires or requests that you:
‘Police Clearance Certificate’
The Ministry of Justice is frequently asked to provide a ‘Police Certificate’ or a ‘Police Clearance’ for persons who wish to apply for residence in a foreign country. In New Zealand, there is no such document. However, you can apply for a copy of your conviction records (which you can then show to another party if you wish).
Note that New Zealand legislation cannot bind a foreign government and the ‘Clean Slate’ Act will have no impact on the border and immigration disclosure requirements of overseas jurisdictions. Where a foreign State requires disclosure of all criminal convictions, whether entitled to be concealed or not, all convictions will need to be provided.
The Ministry of Justice is unable to provide your information over the telephone. You must apply in writing on the correct form. Due to provisions of the Privacy Act 1993, the Ministry requires a signed authority from you before we can access your information.
You can obtain the information about yourself by applying to the Privacy Unit of the Ministry of Justice. The request is made on the following application forms that are designed to ensure that the information you are requesting actually applies to you and not to another person.
All forms can be obtained from your local District Court.
Alternatively, you may ask for the applicable form to be sent to you by writing to:
The Privacy Unit
Or, by contacting a Privacy Assistant on telephone +64 (4) 918 8800, or
fax +64 (4) 918 8974.
Note that you cannot obtain the information from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. If you write to the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, your letter will be referred to the Ministry of Justice. This will delay the processing of your application.
Full instructions are on the forms. Please take particular care to complete all applicable sections of the form.
You need to complete the application form to enable the person accessing the records to be able to identify you correctly. Many people write a letter but do not give their date of birth or their full name. This makes it almost impossible to identify the correct person and causes a delay while we obtain full identification information from you.
The completed form will need to be signed by you and accompanied by a signed form of identification, specifically a photocopy of your passport or drivers licence. Please do not send original identification. Alternatively, a signed proof of identity (which is a section in the application form) will be accepted. Forms unaccompanied by suitable identification will not be processed, ultimately delaying your request for information.
Please forward the original application form only, as we are unable to accept faxed applications unless you have specific arrangements with the Ministry or reside overseas.
A copy of your application is kept for three months and is then destroyed. Your information is kept in a secure area which has restricted access.
Frequently asked questions
Who sees the information about me?
Normally, the only person who sees your information is the Privacy Assistant in the Ministry of Justice. If there is a query for more than your conviction record, that query will be passed on to relevant members of the Ministry's staff.
Can my records be changed?
Will my Youth Court charges appear on my criminal convictions report?
No. Convictions imposed by a Youth Court will not appear on conviction reports produced for an authorised third party.
How long will it take to process my application?
Under the Privacy Act, the Ministry of Justice has a maximum of twenty working days to process applications. If there is going to be a delay for longer than twenty days, we will write and advise you of the reasons for the delay.
Normally the Ministry of Justice will process your application within approximately 2 weeks of receipt. There may be delays from time to time because of the volume of applications received from the public. You should not leave applying for your information until the last moment. The post or other circumstances could mean unforeseen delays.
What do I do if I need the information in order to apply for residence in a foreign country?
The Ministry of Justice is frequently asked to provide a ‘Police Clearance’ or a ‘Police Certificate’ for persons who wish to apply for residence in a foreign country. In New Zealand, there is no such document. The Ministry of Justice is only able to provide a record of your criminal history.
Is the Ministry the sole source of my Criminal History?
No. The New Zealand Police processes requests for information for organisations/agencies that deal with the care of others (younger, older and more vulnerable persons).
If your organisation/agency provides care for others, you should apply for vetting by writing to:
The Liaison Officer
Is the Ministry the sole source of my Traffic History?
No. The systems maintained by the Ministry of Justice contain some, but not all traffic information. All requests for information about a person’s convictions for traffic offences should be made to the Privacy Unit at the Ministry of Justice.
All requests for driver licence information (including driver licence status and conditions) should be made to the LTNZ by writing to:
The Team Leader, Driver Licensing Enforcement
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