What is the difference between NBI clearance and police clearance?

The NBI clearance and National Police Clearance used to be different in terms of scope. While the former uses a national database to identify criminal cases filed in courts anywhere in the country, the latter could only identify cases filed in the specific town or city where it’s issued.

However, with the launch of the National Police Clearance System (NPCS) in 2018, the line between the two clearances has been blurred. The NPCS has enabled the Philippine National Police (PNP) to merge all records from different towns and cities into one database.

This centralized database, similar to the one used by the NBI, has streamlined the process of checking/verifying criminal records in any police station in the Philippines. The NPCS database will also be integrated into the National ID System.

Nonetheless, the PNP has clarified that the National Police Clearance System will NOT replace the NBI Clearance System. But with both of them having a nationwide coverage, what really makes them different from each other?

The difference lies in how the two agencies process a “HIT” on an applicant’s records. As you may already know, a “HIT” is when an applicant’s records return a suspicious result. In most cases, a “HIT” is caused by a namesake.

Whereas a “HIT” in NBI clearance usually takes up to 10 days to be verified and resolved, the same can be cleared right away when you’re applying for a police clearance. This is because local databases are now stored in one cloud so the police can quickly confirm whether the “HIT” comes from a namesake who was involved in a crime and has an active arrest warrant.

The NBI and PNP also differ when it comes to the types of information they gather and keep in their databases.

NBI is mandated by law to store more official records which include the following:

  • Civilian identification records (e.g., identifying marks and characteristics)
  • Derogatory and criminal records
  • Facial photo
  • Fingerprint scan
  • Dental records (obtained with the help of the Philippine Dental Association)

PNP, meanwhile, keeps the following information about citizens included in its database:

  • Blotter records
  • Derogatory and criminal records
  • Facial photo
  • Fingerprint scan


Go back to the main articles: 

How to Get Police Clearance in the Philippines

How to Get NBI Clearance Online in the Philippines