Purpose: Al2O3 used as gate dielectric enables exploitation of higher electric field capacity of SiC, improving capacitive coupling and memory retention in flash memories. Passivation of traps at interface and in bulk which causes serious threat is necessary for better performance. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of post-deposition rapid thermal annealing (PDA) and post-metallization annealing (PMA) on the structural and electrical characteristics of Pd/Al2O3/6H-SiC capacitors. Design/methodology/approach: Al2O3 film is deposited by ALD; PDA is performed by rapid thermal annealing (RTA) in N2 at 900°C for 1 min and PMA in forming gas for 10 and 40 min. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements data are studied in addition to capacitance-voltage (C-V) and current-voltage (I-V) characteristics for the fabricated Pd/Al2O3/SiC capacitors. Conduction mechanism contributing to the gate leakage current is extracted for the entire range of gate electric field. Findings: RTA forms aluminum silicide at the interface causing an increase in the density of the interface states and gate leakage current for devices with an annealed film, when compared with an as-deposited film. One order improvement in leakage current has been observed for the devices with RTA, after subjecting to PMA for 40 min, compared with those devices for which PMA was carried out for 10 min. Whereas, no improvement in leakage current has been observed for the devices on as-deposited film, even after subjecting to PMA for 40 min. Conduction mechanisms contributing to gate leakage current are extracted for the investigated Al2O3/SiC capacitors and are found to be trapfilled limit process at low-field regions; trapassisted tunneling in the mid-field regions and Fowler–Nordheim (FN) tunneling are dominating in high-field regions. Originality/value: The effect of PDA and PMA on the structural and electrical characteristics of Pd/Al2O3/SiC capacitors suitable for flash memory applications is investigated in this paper. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.