The days of making two trips to the police records office on Walkers Road to obtain police clearances are over, at least for internet users.
On Monday, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service started online processing of police clearance certificates, which are required for applicants seeking a work permit or a permit renewal. They are also required every six months for permanent residence applicants awaiting decisions on their status.
The certificates are also required for shareholders/directors of companies seeking a trade and business license in Cayman.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 people apply for a police clearance in the Cayman Islands each month, either for immigration, employment or business licensing purposes. The $25 fee per clearance that applicants pay brings in approximately $900,000 per year.
The change to online applications means applicants can fill out a form similar to the one now used at the police records office, scan a copy of their passport and send their information using the form provided. [*] Payments can be made with a debit or credit card (Mastercard or Visa only). The government said it will not retain credit card information provided by applicants.
Once the form is sent, the applicant will receive a copy of the receipt in their email with information on when they can collect the clearance certificate. The process still takes about 24 hours and applicants still must go to the police records office the next day with a copy of their passport and their receipt to collect the clearance.
Local applicants for the clearance must collect certificates in person. Overseas applicants can apply for clearances to be sent to them by registered mail.
The online application for police clearances is part of the Cayman Islands move toward “e-government,” which already provides some services including driver’s licensing/registration renewals, lands and survey records and job application availability.
“We believe this will have a strongly positive impact on our customers and our staff,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said. “The efficiency of the online process reinforces the type of accessibility and convenience we are striving to provide to the public as a modern police service.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin announced in 2015 that Cayman would fully implement e-government, following recommendations in the 2014 consultant report by accounting firm Ernst & Young.
On Thursday, Premier McLaughlin said the continued development of e-government would enhance Cayman’s economy, particularly for the financial services sector.
“It should improve customers’ experience by reducing the time and costs of service delivery,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Other goals were to enhance public perception of the civil service and increase the Cayman Islands’ competitiveness with other jurisdictions.”
Director of e-government Ian Tibbetts has said that IT security and data protection – areas Cayman has struggled with over the past decade – are crucial to any services government tries to provide via the internet. Mr. Tibbetts also noted another issue with government’s website overload.
“We have to cut down on the number of websites, but not just from a logistical perspective,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “If you don’t understand the way government is currently organized … it would be a challenge for you to know where to get services.”
[*] Editor’s note: Clarifies process used to send in the online application forms.