This article breaks down the process of getting a criminal record for use in Spain and my personal experience undergoing this process.
Getting the criminal record while in Canada
If you are in Canada and you need to provide a criminal record to take with you to Spain you will need to do a Police Check with the RCMP. Contact your nearest police station to ask if your fingerprints will be digital or ink rolled. Ultimately they will be sent to Ottawa for the background check before a criminal record document can be issued stating you have no criminal activity.
Please note that the criminal record has to be less than 6 months old by the time you submit your criminal record for visa processing.
Getting the criminal record while in Spain
Depending on your situation whether it is for study, marriage, civil partnership, or for work, you will need to provide a criminal record document for your Spanish paperwork.
If you are in Spain the first step would be to book an appointment in advance at your nearest Canadian consulate. There are three: Madrid, Barcelona, and Malaga.
The appointment will be to get an official introduction letter from the Spanish police in order to have your Canadian citizen’s fingerprints taken.
Instead of going to the consulate you could also request to get the introduction letter mailed to you, however to make it easier it is always better to go there in person.
Regardless of which consulate you book the appointment you will need to provide the following on your appointment date:
1) Valid Canadian passport
2) $60 CAD payment for the introduction letter which the Canadian officer will sign and stamp
3) RCMP’s C-216 form. I would recommend asking the officer to provide you 2 copies in case one gets lost or you need to redo your fingerprint again
I recommend when going to the Police office for fingerprints to bring a folder with you so you can store your fingerprint form and other documents so it won’t get lost or damaged.
Once you have the letter, the next step is to visit the local police. This is where it can get confusing so it’s worth mentioning here that you must go to the local police that is in partnership with the Canadian consulate. You are not booking an appointment with the local spanish authorities website. Instead you will go to the assigned location that the consulate will provide to you.
Policia Cientifica (Dpto. de Resenas), Policia Nacional
Calle Julian Gonzalez Segador, s/n
Near Pinar del Rey metro station
This is a walk-in appointment and you do not need to make any reservations in advance. The fingerpirints are ONLY available Thursdays and you must sign in within a 15 minute time window (9:00-9:15am).
Policia Cientifica (Policia Nacional)
Plaza Manuel Azana 3
Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 14:00
Policia Cientifica (Dpto. de Dactiloscopia)
Calle Guadalajara, 3
Monday to Friday, from 9h00 to 14h00
*In Malaga and Barcelona the offices have more hours available
As of October 31, 2023 this is the information to contact the consulate or embassy of Canada for appointments:
Embassy of Canada in Madrid by booking a notarial services appointment online.
– Consulate of Canada in Barcelona by calling 93 270 3618 to make an appointment.
– Consulate of Canada in Malaga by calling 95 222 3346 between 10 am and 1 pm from Monday to Friday to make an appointment.
My experience at the Local police office fingerprint in Madrid
I can only share my experience in Madrid but it was very smooth.
The Embassy of Canada in Madrid only has appointments available for getting the introduction letter on Mondays and if you are making a trip to Madrid from another city, it is best to stay in Madrid until the end of Thursday after you have gotten the fingerprinting done and RCMP C216 signed.
Feeling nervous I showed up to the office ahead of time because I was afraid of missing the 15 minute time window and not being allowed in for fingerprinting.
When you arrive the police ask you to scan your bags via security and then you provide your ID (you can show your TIE (expired or not) or your Canadian Passport. They then give you a Vista sticker with date stamped to put on your shirt. I was then told to wait outside. There were two people already there ahead of me. As we waited together I saw more and more show up and everyone that went inside to register and received a sticker went back out. The queue started to form longer and by 9:45AM we were ready to leave as a group.
I think there were at least 25 of us. The officer then told us to follow him to walk into another building which was 5 minutes away. As we entered the building we had to wait in a corridor. The early ones that arrived and were ahead in the line got a seat, while the others behind me had to stand in the hallway. There were 3 officers who were assisting us. We first had to fill out a form that they gave us. We had to fill out our details of our address were living and contact information. It was also the right time to fill out the RCMP C-216 form. This is where I mentioned earlier that having a second form as a backup would be easy in case you filled out the form incorrectly.
The officer then asked us to go inside the room if we were ready and at this point it didn’t matter the order of people going anymore because at the end we all had to wait for everyone to have their fingerprints done before we could head back.
The process was smooth and easy and I appreciated the professionalism and courtesy that the officers provided. They all spoke good English as well so communication was easy.
By 10:45AM we were all done and ready to head back.
WIth the completed and inked C-216 form completed, the next step is to research for a RCMP accredited company to have your fingerprint form digitize. The Canadian embassy would recommend you doing this before going to the police in Spain as some Canadian RCMP accredited companies may use their own form. However, I don’t believe this is necessary as there is a long list of places that will accept the C-216 form.
You can find the list here that will process the CCRTIS (RCMPs Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services)
There are several options you can choose and it depends on your budget as well as whether you would like to have someone in your family help you or you pay an agency to help you with getting the criminal record issued and authenticated.
If you money is not a worry to you and you would prefer having an agency take care of all of the service for you. I would recommend using Reliability Screening
Of course there are more you can choose, but I have heard great experiences with this agency and I do know of several Canadians who have went with this service and said positive things about them.
The service i think at the time I contacted them in summer of 2023 was around $500 CAD, pretty steep but they do get the job done:
I didn’t want to pay for the service and instead relied on my family to help me.
I contacted several places in Vancouver and Ottawa that help with digitalizing fingerprints and in general most cost around $200-$250. They require you to mail in one headshot photo of yourself with white background (passport photo size is fine) and a photocopy of 2 Canadian IDs that are notarized and stamped as certified true copy.
I found that was a bit of a hassle and luckily found one company Global Fingerprinting Services Canada that didn’t need me to provide a notarized copy. They were wonderful.
The digitization process takes about 1.5 weeks once they receive your fingerprinting form. They do not take care of the authentication part because they are not an immigration agency that helps with paperwork.
Once the criminal record was issued in Ottawa and sent back to the Global Fingerprinting Services Canada they forwarded the document to my parents address.
The following steps was to prepare a bank draft to the Embassy of Spain $36.88 ( $10.90 authentication fee and $25.98 for registered mail postage fee) and a completed form to GLobal affairs of Canada. The link for the Global Affairs form can be found aquí
This is where the waiting process will take because Global Affairs will first need to put a stamp and authenticate the criminal record before forwarding it to the Spanish Embassy in Ottawa to collect our payment before stamping their part on the criminal record.
The process will depend on how much paperload each office is having.