DBS Checks - What are they and why do you need one?

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A quick guide to DBS checks - what they are, why you might need one, and how to get one.

What’s a DBS check?

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. It’s a check that looks at whether you have a criminal record and is essential when applying for or starting some jobs.

Why do I need one?

DBS checks are there to protect vulnerable groups like children and vulnerable adults. They are needed for some roles where you will come into contact with these groups.

How do I get one?

You can apply for a basic check yourself online, or your employer may apply for you.

There are different application systems for jobs in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England & Wales. It’s the location of the job you’ll be doing that determines which check you’ll need. So, if you get a job in Scotland you may need to apply for a Scottish check.

You can find links to the different application systems here.

The cost of applying varies depending on where you are applying, at the time of writing the cost for a basic check is £18 in Northern Ireland, £23 in England and Wales, and £25 in Scotland.

What do I need to apply?

You’ll normally need:

  • all your addresses for the last 5 years and the dates you lived there
  • your National Insurance number
  • your passport
  • your driving licence
  • A debit card or credit card to pay online. You can also use Google Pay or Apple Pay.

The requirements may vary slightly depending on which part of the UK you are applying for.

How long does the application take to complete?

It should take you less than ten minutes to apply online, and you’ll normally get your check back within a few weeks.

Which DBS check is right for me?

It’s important to check with your employer (or potential employer) which kind of DBS check you need. You can apply for a basic check online, but for some roles you may need an enhanced check. Your employer will tell you if this is needed and will normally request the enhanced check on your behalf.

What if I’m transgender?

You can apply for a DBS certificate that does not include information that would reveal your previous identity. There is a special process for this - this page has details about how to apply.

Or, alternatively, if you have further questions, you can contact them directly via email/phone:

Email: sensitive@dbs.gov.uk

Telephone: 0151 676 1452

The information in this article was correct at time of publication (Oct 2021). Please check the UK Government’s Disclosure and Barring Service web pages for the very latest information.

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