As the famous line from Shakespeare goes, “What’s in a name”? Well, when it comes to getting disclosure checks, your name is everything. Along with other key pieces of information, our name is one of the ways we identify ourselves. If the Disclosure and Barring Service can’t match your application to the names they have recorded on their system, this could cause huge issues. For most people, the name issue is straightforward. However, there are some other circumstances which everyone should be aware of.  

Change of Name on Marriage

By far the most common reason for changing your name is because you’ve got married. It’s culturally more common for women to change their surname to their husband’s surname, but there are other options too. A husband may take his spouse’s surname, they may double barrel names together, or choose a totally new surname for the family. On the other hand, if a marriage ends in divorce, surnames may be changed back again. With each subsequent marriage, there may be a new surname. When you apply for a DBS check there is a box asking for previous names. List all the names you’ve previously used, giving the dates between which you were known as each name. If dates overlap, this isn’t necessarily a problem.  

Disclosure Checks and “Known As” Names

In the UK, we have a right to call ourselves whatever we like, within reason. If you don’t like the name your parents gave you, then you’re free to change it. Often, this is done legally through the deed poll process. This is a formal legal process whereby you renounce your old name, and formally adopt your new one. The deed poll document then allows you to apply for documents such as a passport or driving licence under your new name. Not everyone goes through the legal deed poll process to change their name. Many people use one name for official paperwork, and another for everyday life. For example, someone might be called John Andrew Williams, but be known to everyone as Andy. Children may informally adopt the surname of a step parent, ot start using their mother’s surname instead of their legal name. This is usually recorded on forms as “John Smith, known as John Jones” or similar. All of these aliases should also be declared on a DBS application form. This is because that in theory there could be information held on the police database under any or all of the names someone uses.  

Disclosure Checks and Nicknames

Another issue could be the use of nicknames. Many people use a shortened version of their name in everyday life, such as Vicky for Victoria or Tom for Thomas. The DBS guidelines are clear on which sorts of names should be listed. Applicants should list all shortened or nickname versions of their names, if they appear on any official document. Usually passports and driving licence will contain only your full legal name. However, your passport might say Elizabeth, your bank statement might be Beth, and your credit card bill listed as Bethe. All versions of your name should be declared on the DBS application. You should also list all of your official middle names.  

Getting it Right for Disclosure Checks

For most people, the DBS application process is straightforward. Processing times have been decreasing, but delays are still a possibility. You can maximise your chances of getting your certificate back quickly by taking extra care over completing the form. Read it through properly before starting to fill it in. Remember to take care to complete all of your previous names, and give the dats when you changed from using one name to the next. The DBS also has a telephone helpline where you can get advice and help if you are confused. Recently, the rules about clarifying DBS forms have been tightened up. Previously, the DBS would ring or email people whose forms contained errors or omissions, and ask them to clarify. In order to save time and speed up processing times for everyone, they’re not doing this any longer. Get the wrong information in the names field, and you risk the form being rejected altogether. That means starting a new application from scratch and even worse – paying the fee again too.