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If you are engaged to work in a regulated activity i.e. certain unsupervised activities with children, it is highly likely that you will need to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The information here relates to law in England and Wales. There are different rules for getting a DBS check in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Who needs a DBS check?

A DBS check may be required for certain jobs or voluntary work, such as working with children or in healthcare.

It is up to employers – schools, music services, dance and performing arts organisations, parents of pupils – whether they ask for a DBS check.

Who organises, pays for and keeps DBS checks?

Some organisations organise their own DBS check of staff as a pre-requisite to employment. They will organise and pay for it – you will need to fill in the forms and provide documents proving your identity. This usually happens if you are recruited for a permanent post. For temporary or freelance work, you may be expected to produce your own DBS certificate. You will need to organise and pay for it.  

DBS checks for eligible volunteers are free of charge. This includes anyone who spends time helping people and is not being paid (apart from travel and basic expenses). If you are a volunteer, check with your recruiting organisation to find out if you qualify for a free DBS check.

How long is a DBS check valid?

DBS checks do not have a formal period of validity – they provide employers with a report of police records at the time they are requested. It is regarded good practice to renew your DBS check every one to three years.

DBS Update Service

The DBS update service lets applicants keep their DBS certificates up to date online and allows employers to check a certificate online.

You need to register to use the update service. For an annual subscription of £13 (free for volunteers), you can have your DBS Certificate kept up-to-date and take it with you from role to role, within the same workforce, where the same type and level of check is required, thereby reducing the need to apply for multiple Certificates. Organisations can carry out a quick online Status check to see if an individual’s Certificate is still up to date – saving you both time and money.

You can subscribe to the Update Service online at GOV.UK. You can join the Update Service at the same time you apply for a DBS check, or you can wait and register with your certificate number when you receive your DBS certificate. If so, you must do so within 19 days of the Certificate being issued.

How do I apply for a DBS check?

It is not possible for individuals and the self-employed to apply for an enhanced DBS check directly from the Disclosure and Barring Service. They can only be applied for by employers and organisations registered as ‘Umbrella Bodies’. 

If you are applying through an umbrella body, you will need to pay the charge for an enhanced DBS check, which is currently £44. Most umbrella organisations also charge a fee to cover the cost of staff admin time in processing applications.

If you are a volunteer, a DBS check is free of charge. Check with your recruiting organisation to find out if you qualify.

Self-employed individuals can apply for a basic disclosure by themselves through a service is provided by Disclosure Scotland that is available to people living in all parts of the UK. Please note that this is the lowest level of DBS check and is not suitable for positions whereby an individual is regularly caring for, training, supervising or being solely in charge of children, or for positions whereby an individual is undertaking specified activities with adults in receipt of health care or social care services. For more information the different types of DBS check (i.e. Standard, Enhanced or Enhanced with barred list checks) see the relevant section of GOV.UK.

For musicians

Members of the Musicians’ Union who are working as freelance musicians can have a DBS check processed by a registered umbrella body, TotalCRB. Please note that a fee is charged for this service.

Members of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) can have a DBS check processed by a registered umbrella body, Due Diligence Checking (DDC). Please note that a fee is charged for this service.

For dancers

People Dancing: the Foundation for Community Dance (the professional organisation for anyone involved in creating opportunities for people to experience and participate in dance) is a Registered Body and Umbrella Body, and can process and countersign DBS checks for their members. The cost of having a DBS check processed by them depends on your membership type; for more information go to their website.

For current students

If you are a current student at Trinity Laban, it may be possible for you have a DBS check processed via Trinity Laban’s Human Resources department. If the check is related to your programme of studies there is no cost, otherwise a charge of £44.00 will apply. Please email for information regarding availability.

For more information about DBS checks go to: GOV.UK

How long will it take to process my application?

The time it takes to process a DBS check depends on the level of check (i.e. Standard, Enhanced or Enhanced with barred list checks) and on whether the details given for the check are correct. Enhanced checks also rely on getting information from the relevant police forces and this can sometimes delay your application.

Generally, it can take around six to eight weeks to get a DBS check.

How can I check the progress of my application?

You can track the progress of your application via the DBS tracking service.

The DBS certificate

Once the check is completed, the DBS will send a certificate to you as the applicant. The employer has to ask you to see the certificate. If you have subscribed to the DBS update service, the employer can check your certificate online.