What is an expungement?

An expungement refers to the removal of criminal judgements on your criminal record. Many people have criminal records expunged in order to obtain visas and other statuses/documents. In the information on this page, we will be taking a look at what criminal record expungements are and how you can go about getting your records expunged.


Can I really have my criminal record cleared?


Yes, in certain cases, it is possible to remove criminal records. Sometimes, however, you cannot ever have a certain criminal judgement altered or removed. If you are planning on traveling abroad for work or study purposes, there are quite a few documents that you will need, including a SAPS Police Clearance Certificate and the Application for Expungement of a Criminal Record (South Africa). If you have ever been convicted of a crime, you might need to have your criminal record checked and a SAPS Police Clearance legalised. A clean record naturally is far more favourable than one with a judgement on it, whatever the crime committed.


What does it mean to have your criminal record expunged?


When criminal records are expunged, it means that your criminal record is sealed and will not be indicated on a SAPS Police Clearance Certificate. It basically comes down to “wiping your slate clean,” making it look like you never had a criminal record, and unless you are specifically asked to do so, you do not have to declare that record.


When can a criminal record be expunged?


Criminal records can be expunged only if the following criteria are met:

  • Ten years have passed since the date of your criminal conviction
  • You have not been convicted of any other offences and sentenced to a period of imprisonment without the option of a fine during the ten years since your original conviction.
  • The fine imposed for the conviction did not exceed R20,000.
  • You were not convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled, and your name is not registered in the National Register for Sex Offenders.
  • You were not found unsuitable to work with children by a criminal court, and your name is not included in the National Child Protection Register.
  • You were not convicted of a crime on the base of race.
  • You were convicted of an offence which would not be regarded as an offence in an open and democratic society based on human dignity equality and freedom under the democratic constitutional dispensation.


The process of getting a criminal record expunged is intricate (and tedious) and requires a great deal of planning.


You will need to obtain a Police Clearance Certificate so that all the details of the offence and conviction can be established.


Since the Department of Justice does not deal with the public directly, you will have to work through an agency in order to get your criminal record expunged.


You will be required to download and complete a client sheet from the service provider you have chosen to use, after which you will have to complete the Application for Expungement documents.


After completing all the relevant forms, you will courier the documents to your service provider of choice, after which the service provider will submit your application forms to the Department of Justice.


If the Director-General is satisfied that you meet the requirements set out in the Act, he or she will issue a certificate of expungement directing that the convictions and sentences be expunged.


A certificate of expungement will be issued to the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service.


The Head of the Criminal Record Centre will inform you, in writing, that your conviction and sentence has been expunged.


After your record has been expunged, you can apply for a Police Clearance Certificate that will be issued without the convictions and sentences.


An expungement is not easy to process and requires intimate knowledge of the legal system. Let us handle yours cleanly and quickly. See our pricing.