Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is a DBS Check?

DBS Checks are background checks carried out on individuals that detail all or some of their criminal history. DBS stands for “Disclosure and Barring Service”, and this check replaced the “Criminal Records Bureau” check (CRB) as of December 2012. A DBS Check, also known as a Disclosure, will identify any convictions, cautions, final warnings or reprimands, relevant to the prospective employment and can also include intelligence from the police that may affect an individual’s suitability for certain employment.

Who needs a DBS Check?

Any unsupervised volunteers or employees who, on a frequent and intensive basis, have direct access to, work, or volunteer with children and/or vulnerable adults, will require a Disclosure and Barring Service Check.

What are the different types of Criminal Records Checks?

  • Basic Disclosure
  • Standard DBS Check
  • Enhanced DBS Check
  • Enhanced DBS Check with Barred List checks

What is a Standard DBS Check?

Standard DBS Checks will show any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, as well as any spent convictions or cautions that were not removed by filtering. These checks are suitable for eligible roles within industries such as finance or security, where there’s no regular contact with children or vulnerable adults. There are also occasions where a Standard level will be applicable in certain establishments such as administration roles within hospitals.

What are the DBS Barred Lists?

These lists provide information on whether an individual is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. An Enhanced DBS Check with Barred Lists Check is only appropriate for applicants working with children and/or vulnerable adults in Regulated Activity as defined in The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. It’s a criminal offence for an employer to request a Barred List Check for any role that isn’t eligible.

How much do DBS checks cost?

Our current costs for the various types of check are detailed below



  • Basic Disclosure – £29.80-£34.20 inc VAT
  • Standard DBS Check– £30.80 – £35.20 inc VAT
  • Enhanced DBS Check – £48.80 – £53.20 inc VAT

How long do DBS checks take?

Generally a Basic Check will take on average 3 – 10 workings days. Standard and Enhanced Checks are dependent upon the DBS workload. A Standard Check will take around two days, and an Enhanced Check on average comes back in less than four days. Police turnaround times are reliant on the resources they have on hand as well as the clarity and accuracy of the data entered on the initial application form; any discrepancies or mistakes made at time of applying, may cause delays in the vetting process.

What’s the best way to contact the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)?

You can e-mail the DBS at, or contact them by phone on 0870 909 0811 or 03000 200 190.

What happened to CRB Checks?

A number of changes occurred following the publication of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. These included the merging of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), creating a new organisation called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Apart from the discontinued ISA Registration Scheme, the DBS now provides all the services previously offered by the CRB and ISA.

Who can request a DBS Check?

DBS Checks can only be requested by a potential employer, an existing employer, local authority or recruiter. An individual cannot request a DBS criminal records check for themselves, but they can apply to Disclosure Scotland (even if they live in England and Wales), for a Basic Disclosure.

What is a Basic Disclosure?

A Basic Disclosure is a background check that will show all unspent convictions. It can be requested by an individual, or by a potential employer with the applicant’s permission. These checks are currently available from Disclosure Scotland, for individuals living in Scotland, England and Wales, and from Access NI for applicants living in Northern Ireland.

The DBS doesn’t currently provide Basic Disclosures however, during 2017, the DBS will take over the processing of these checks for individuals in England and Wales.

What is an Enhanced DBS Check?

An Enhanced DBS Check will show any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, as well as any spent convictions or cautions that were not removed in line with filtering guidance. Eligible applicants who are working or volunteering with young people, children and/or vulnerable adults will require an Enhanced DBS Check. If it’s considered relevant to recruitment decisions, these checks may also include intelligence from the police.

What is filtering?

The filtering process is used by the DBS to determine whether certain information on convictions and cautions is protected under current legislation, and should be removed from an individual’s DBS Certificate before it’s printed. An employer can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that they are legally entitled to know about, and these can be taken into account when making recruitment decisions. Standard and Enhanced DBS Certificates will include details of convictions and cautions (which include youth cautions, reprimands and warnings) recorded on the PNC (police National Computer). PNC information relating to protected cautions and convictions will be filtered and will not appear on the certificate.

Who pays for DBS checks?

There is no general rule here. It would depend upon the level of the check and the reason it has been requested. Therefore, on occasions the applicant will pay for the check whilst in other cases the Organisation that is requesting the check will pay.

How long do DBS Checks last?

The information provided during a DBS Check is accurate at the time the check is carried out, and whilst DBS certificates don’t officially expire, employers need to decide if the amount of time that has elapsed since the check was carried out means a new one is required. There may be a requirement for re checking as determined by a governing body or professional organisation. The DBS Update Service allows applicants to keep their certificate up to date, and employers to check the certificate of a potential employee.

What’s the best way to contact the Disclosure Scotland (DS)?

Disclosure Scotland can be e-mailed at, or contacted by phone on 0870 609 6006.
Common Questions

Can we request DBS Checks?

Should they have eligible applicants, an employer or potential employer or organisation can request DBS Checks. The role the applicant is performing will dictate the level of check, and in all cases the applicant will need to give their consent to a check being carried out.

Are DBS Checks a legal requirement?

Before an organisation or employer considers asking a person to apply for a DBS check, they are legally responsible for ensuring that they are entitled to submit an application for the job role in question. As an employer, you are legally obliged to make sure anyone in your organisation working in a regulated activity with children and vulnerable adults is not barred from doing so. For certain licenced professions, there is also a requirement upon entry into specific qualifications and roles to obtain a DBS check through different regulatory bodies. Most commonly this is seen with Lawyers and Chartered Accountants.

Can an individual start work before they receive their DBS certificate?

If an individual is going to be working or volunteering in an unsupervised role with, children and vulnerable adults, to avoid any legal liability, you should check their DBS certificate before they start work.

However, employers providing care services for adults, in a care home for example, can make use of a service called DBS Adult First. The DBS Adult First Check can be requested, at an additional cost, at the time of applying or retrospectively once the application is processing.  This check can only be completed if the applicant is in a regulated activity with vulnerable adults. Within a couple of days, this check will indicate whether an applicant can start work in a supervised position (no match found), whether the potential employer should wait for the results of an Enhanced check (please wait) the certificate has already been printed. If a ‘please wait’ result comes through, it does not mean that the applicant is definitely on the Adults’ Barred List, this simply means that the check has proved inconclusive and that employers should exercise caution by waiting for the full Disclosure Certificate. DBS Adult First checks should be used only in exceptional circumstances and when absolutely necessary.

Which applicants do we need to check?

Organisations can be held legally liable for any safeguarding issues where adequate checks haven’t been carried out. For this reason, DBS Checks should be carried out on all volunteers and employees that work, on a frequent basis, with children and vulnerable adults. There are specific types of establishments listed in legislation, that allow for a DBS Check to be requested due to the employee working on that site frequently. This is the case even if any contact or work with vulnerable groups is restricted. Most commonly, any staff member working in a Care Home at least once a week or 4 or more times in a 30 day period, can be checked at an Enhanced level. It is therefore important to understand whether an employee is undertaking a direct activity with the service users or, are they working for or on behalf of a specified establishment; both of which could entitle them to a DBS Check.

Can an applicant fail a DBS Check?

DBS Checks produce a certificate that details any information about an individual’s criminal record and if they have one relevant to the position they are applying for. If the certificate shows information on any convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands, this does not mean that the individual has ‘failed’ the DBS Check. Employers must, by law, consider whether the offences committed, and the length of time since they were committed, are relevant to the role the individual has applied for or is working in.

Can I sign my potential employees/volunteers up for the DBS Update Service?

The DBS Update Service is a subscription service for applicants, and whilst employers and organisations can use it to check DBS certificates, they cannot register individuals on their behalf.
Applicant/Employee Questions

Do I need a DBS Check?

As a general guide, if you are planning on working or volunteering with children and/or vulnerable adults, you will more than likely require a DBS Check.

What documents will I need to provide?

The documents you will be required to submit as part of the checking process will depend upon the type of check that is being carried out. For a DBS Disclosure, you must provide a range of ID documents following the 3 route ID checking process as outlined by the DBS. They have a list of document groups and guidance on this can be found here.

What will show up on my DBS Check?

Standard DBS Checks will show any unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, as well as any spent convictions or cautions that were not removed by filtering. Enhanced DBS Checks will show the same information as a Standard Check, but will also include any intelligence provided by the police, which they feel may be relevant when making recruitment decisions.

An Enhanced DBS Check with Barred List Check, provides the same information as an Enhanced only level Check, but also includes any information on the Adults’ and/or Children’s Barred lists.

Can I still be employed with a criminal conviction?

Having a criminal record doesn’t automatically mean you cannot be employed, but it will be considered as part of the recruitment process. Employers are legally obliged to consider whether or not the type of offence and the length of time since it was committed, makes you ineligible for the role you are working in/applying for. Additional checks may be requested by the employer/organisation to fully assess your suitability for a particular position.

What is a spent conviction?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA) allows most convictions to be considered ‘spent’ after a set period. Unless someone receives a prison sentence of over 4 years or has any type of indefinite order, the conviction will become spent at some point. Unless applying for some certain jobs, a person who has spent convictions and cautions does not have to disclose them to their prospective employer. From the employer’s point of view, they can’t refuse to employ someone because of spent convictions.

I’ve changed addresses, can I update my certificate?

If the application is still in the vetting process and no certificate has been issued, the applicant can contact the DBS to inform them. The Umbrella Body used by the employer can also provide this update. Once the certificate has been issued and the applicant requires the address to be changed, unfortunately a new DBS application must be completed.

Is my employer allowed to keep my certificate?

There is usually no reason an employer would need to keep or photocopy a DBS certificate once the recruitment process is complete, unless you are working within an organisation regulated by OFSTED, CSSIW, or a CQC regulated residential care home. The certificate is your property and apart from these exceptions, an employer can only hold onto it with your permission for the length of time of its intended purpose only.

Can I request a DBS Check for myself?

As an individual, you can request a Basic Disclosure; this will show any convictions that are considered unspent. There are no eligibility requirements to obtain this type of check. Unfortunately, it is not possible for individuals to request Standard or Enhanced DBS Checks on themselves. These checks are designed to help organisations and employers make recruitment decisions so, if you know that you should be checked to this level, you will need to contact your prospective employer so that they can apply for this on your behalf. However, if you are self-employed, in the first instance it would be best for you to go through an agency or local authority to obtain this on your behalf. If this is not possible, and you operate under a business name, you can then act as the ‘employer’, and request a check under your company’s name through an Umbrella Body such as uCheck.

Do I need to send original copies of these documents?

As an employer you must check and validate that the information provided by the applicant on their application form matches that of the ID documents provided by them in support of their check. You must establish the true identity of the applicant by viewing the original documents in person with the applicant present.

As an applicant, you must obtain and provide original official documentation as per the document groups in the ID checking process. Some documents must have a certain validity for example, a UK bank statement must be issued on headed paper from the UK Bank and must be less than 3 months old. As you are signing and declaring all information submitted is correct, to the best of your knowledge, you must ensure all ID is up-to-date and confirms the information you have submitted on your application. Failure to do this may result in delays with the DBS processing the application. Details of each document group and validity information can be found here.

Who receives a copy of my DBS certificate?

Since June 17th 2013, only the applicant themselves receive a copy of the DBS Certificate. This is sent to the current address that is provided on the application.

What is the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables applicants that have spent convictions and cautions the right not to disclose them when applying for applicable jobs. Once convictions are spent, the Act gives the applicant the right not to disclose them when applying for certain jobs, unless the role is exempt from the Act. Most employers with jobs covered by the Act will only ask for ‘unspent’ convictions. If an employer asks about all convictions, it’s advised to check what level of Disclosure they’re requesting, and if it’s only a Basic Disclosure, then this may be ineligible and the applicant can legally withhold any spent convictions.

I’ve lost my certificate, can I get a replacement?

In some cases you can request a reprint of your certificate, this is usually if you have never received it in the post. This can only be requested by an applicant contacting the DBS customer support line. There is a time frame the DBS have with regards to reprints, so applicants must be aware that it’s at the DBS’ discretion as to whether they will issue another copy. If you have lost your certificate after it has been delivered, it cannot be replaced, and the only way to get another one would be to undergo a new DBS check.

What is the DBS Update Service?

Applicants can subscribe to the DBS Update Service, for an annual fee, once the DBS have received their application. Registration to the service can also be completed within 30 calendar days of the certificate issue date. This service is available for a yearly subscription, and will securely store the individual’s certificate online, where the applicant or an employer can check it at any time. The update service is an applicant led initiative and an application can only be registered to the service by the individual whose check it is; the employer/organisation cannot do this on the applicant’s behalf. The DBS have issued guidance on this process confirming such information, please find this guidance here.

This enables employers and recruiters to see if a new check is required, based on whether the update service shows any of the individual’s information has changed, or if a more extensive check is required. The service also means the individual’s certificate is portable between different roles and employers within similar industries requiring the same level of checks.


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"We have been using uCheck for several years and have always found the application process very easy to understand and action requests, any time we have had queries we have been able to speak to the customer service team and these have been resolved both quickly and professionally. We often recommend uCheck to clients due to the professional, friendly service we have always received."

"We have been working with UCheck for a short period of time but in that time we have been pleased with the process, it is quick, fast and efficient. The portal is user-friendly and easy to use, for employers it really does take 5 minutes to process a DBS check! We are happy with the quick turnaround and our Account Manager, Tori Bulley, has been really helpful and quick at answering any queries we have. Working with UCheck has only added to what we offer as a business."

"We have used the services of u Check since June 2014 and have been impressed with the professional, prompt and efficient service which we receive from them. The on-line system is really easy to use and the DBS Applications are processed quickly. Thank you for providing a great service and keep up the good work."