DBS Application Process

This page is for those who have been asked, as part of a recruitment or licensing process, to apply for a Disclosure.


The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) [formerly the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)] provides access to criminal record and other relevant information to employers and licensing authorities in England and Wales. The results of the checks carried out by the DBS help organisations make more informed decisions when recruiting people to work with children and the vulnerable.

DBS checks are also available to certain specified professional, licensing and regulatory bodies whose employees or volunteers are not necessarily in direct contact with the vulnerable.

Through the Disclosure service, organisations can ensure greater protection for the vulnerable members of our society and afford greater protection to their customers, staff, volunteers and ultimately their organisation.

What information is available through a DBS check?

A DBS check can provide access to a range of different types of information, such as information:

Not all applications for those working with children or vulnerable adults will be eligible for a check against lists held by the Disclosure and Barring Service. For the latest details on which posts or sectors are entitled to request such checks please refer to the DBS Web-site (part of the Home Office web-site).

The DBS does not check whether an applicant is permitted to work within the UK. The employer has liability for ensuring that the person they intend to employ does not have any restriction on their ability to take up employment within the UK. For further information on the rules surrounding working in the UK go to the Borders and Immigration Agency website.

Why might I be asked to apply for a DBS check?

You may have been asked to apply for an Enhanced DBS check if:

A DBS check may also be required for a range of other types of job or licences. To find out more please contact the CRB information line or visit the information page on the CRB web-site.

Who can apply for a DBS Check?

DBS checks cannot be obtained by members of the public directly but are only available to organisations and only for those professions, offices, employments, work and occupations listed in the Exceptions Order to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

For this reason your application will be processed either by your employer, if it is registered with the DBS, or a third party organisation, called an Umbrella Body, which is registered with the DBS.

What ID documents will I need to supply when I apply for a DBS check?

You will be asked to provide three documents: One document from Group 1 plus any two documents from Groups 1 or 2, or five documents from Group 2.

Information on the DBS can be found in the Directgov web-site, which is useful for those using the British Crown Green clearance route.

  • click here to access information on how to apply and what documents are acceptable.
  • click here to access advice on how to fill out the application form.

    What is an Enhanced DBS Check?

    This is the highest level of check available to anyone working in regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults. It is also available in certain licensing purposes and judicial appointments. Enhanced DBS checks contain the same information as the Standard Disclosure but with the addition of;

    The DBS recognises that the Standard and Enhanced Disclosure information can be extremely sensitive and personal, therefore it has published a Code of Practice and employers’ guidance for recipients of Disclosures to ensure they are handled fairly and used properly.

    A copy of Enhanced Disclosure will be sent out to the applicant as well as the Registered Body.

    Can I refuse to apply for a DBS check?

    Yes, an employer or licensing authority must have your permission to request a Disclosure; this is given when you sign the application form.

    However, there are some posts for which a DBS check is required by law. If you refuse to apply for a CRB check in this instance, the organisation may not be able to take your job or licence application any further.

    If you are currently working and your employer asks you to apply for a DBS check, you may be able to refuse if your contract of employment does not refer to a Disclosure and Barring Service check, unless a change in legislation has made such a check mandatory.

    I already have a DBS or CRB Check, can I use it again?

    If you are asked to apply for a DBS check and you already have one for a previous role you can ask if the organisation is willing to accept it. However, under the recommendations of the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) it is normally treated as only being valid for a 3 year period.

    Ultimately, it will be the organisation’s decision whether to accept it or not. This re-use is called "Portability" - for more information on Portability click here.

    How do I pay for my DBS check?

    The DBS charges an application fee for processing a request for a Disclosure check.

    Payment for a DBS check can be made by personal cheque or postal order but some organisations may pay for the DBS check on your behalf. Please check with the person who has asked you to apply for the DBS check to see if this is the case.

    If you are a volunteer, the DBS will issue the check free-of-charge, your employer will be able to tell you whether the post meets the DBS’s definition of a volunteer.

    Am I entitled to a free of charge DBS check?

    A free of charge DBS check will be issued if you can meet the volunteer criteria:

    The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002 defines a volunteer as a person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party other than or in addition to a close relative.

    How do I apply for a DBS Check?

    An individual cannot make an application for a Disclosure directly, and the Disclosure service does not apply to those people who are self-employed. This is because there needs to be an independent person who makes the decision to employ an individual having assessed that they pose no threat to either children or vulnerable adults in their care. If a person is self-employed there is no independent third party to make that decision.

    There are two ways of applying for a DBS check. You will either be asked to:

    In both instances, you will have to provide evidence of your name, address and date of birth, along with the Registered Body name and number, and the level of DBS check. This will help the person who asked you to apply, confirm your identity.

    A guidance booklet on how to complete the new application form can be found here. The DBS Web-site also has some useful notes on completing the new form click here to find out more.

    Who will receive my DBS Check?

    When the application is processed, the DBS sends out a certifcate to you. However, you are required to supply your National Safeguarding Officer/ Welfare Officer with a copy of the DBS Certificate as well as show it to your local Safeguarding/ Welfare Officer as the only copy is sent to you.

    How do I know that the information contained on my DBS Check will remain confidential?

    Organisations using the Disclosure service must comply with the DBS Code of Practice which is there to make sure that any information revealed is used fairly and kept securely. Also, the DBS is committed to compliance with the Data Protection Act. This means that any personal information that you submit to us will be protected.

    Under the provisions of the Code of Practice, sensitive personal information must be handled and stored appropriately and must be kept only for as long as it is necessary. The Code of Practice is published on the DBS website, or you can request a copy from the person who asked you to apply for the DBS check.

    What if I have a criminal record that may not be relevant to the position for which I am applying?

    Safeguards and guidelines have been introduced to ensure that conviction information is not misused and that ex-offenders are not treated unfairly. Ex-offenders will retain the protection afforded by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. In addition, the DSB and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have developed guidance information for employers on this matter.

    What if things go wrong?

    The DBS has established a comprehensive complaints process and, as part of its commitment to provide a high standard of customer service, we will always:

    For how long is a DBS Check valid?

    Each Disclosure will show the date on which it was printed. DBS Certificates do not carry a pre-determined period of validity because a conviction or other matter could be recorded against the subject of the DBS check at any time after it is issued. The Association of Bowling Codes (ABC) Safeguarding Panel for Bowls require that DBS Clearances are renewed every three (3) years in line with guidance received from the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) [part of the NSPCC].

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