Basic DBS Checks
Q: What is a basic disclosure?
A: The basic disclosure certificate shows any current unspent convictions and cautions which someone has on their criminal record.
Q: Where do I get the certificate?
A: In England and Wales, applications are made to the Disclosure and Barring Service. Due to the separate legal system in Scotland, applications there are made through Disclosure Scotland. AccessNI processes certificates in Northern Ireland.
Q: When does my certificate expire?
A: Basic disclosure certificates don’t expire. Certificates are only accurate on the day they are issued. Usually, your employer or industry’s regulating body decide how often you should renew your certificate.
Q: How long does the application take?
A: In most cases, basic disclosure certificates are issued in around a week. After application, you will be asked to show or upload identity documents to support your application. Once you’ve done that, you can expect to wait another week.
Q: What sort of people can get a basic disclosure?
A: There are no restrictions on who can apply for a basic disclosure certificate, and the system is open to anyone over the age of 16.
Q: How do I get my certificate?
A: The DBS certificate is sent out to the home address of the applicant. If your home address isn’t suitable for any reason, you can nominate another “care of” address for despatch of the certificate. The certificates are sent through the post, second class. If you are applying from an overseas address, then you have the option to receive your certificate by airmail, or by a courier service but you’ll have to pay the carriage costs.
Q: What is an unspent conviction?
A: A conviction becomes legally “spent” after a set rehabilitation period. The length of this period depends on the type of offence, and the sentence. Sentences don’t just mean spending time in prison and could also be a fine, a suspended sentence or fines. The rehabilitation period starts on the day you are convicted.
- 2.5 years in prison sentence or more – never spent
- Prison over 6 months but less than 2.5 years – 10 years (including youth custodial sentences and corrective training sentences)
- Military dismissal with disgrace – 10 years
- Sentence served in borstal, or sentence in a youth custody unit for 6 months or less – 7 years
- Most other sentences where the punishment was a fine – 5 years
- Sentence involving probation or community service – 5 years
- Probation or community service where the offender is under the age of 18 – 2.5 years or until the order stops
- Sentences served in a hospital under the Mental Health Act – usually 5 years, but may be also 2 years after the end of the order if that is a longer period of time
- Detention in a young offender institution up to 6 months – 3 years
- Care orders, supervision orders, being “bound over”, conditional discharge – 1 year, or a year after the order expires if that’s longer
- Absolute discharge – 6 months
Remember – the sentence is the length of time specified in court, not the actual time served before being released.
Completing the Form
Q: What do I do if the application form asks me for information which I don’t have?
A: Fill in as much information as you can. Then contact a member of the team who will help you with the rest of the information needed.
Q: What happens with my supporting documents?
A: After you’ve filled in the form and submitted it, we’ll get in touch and ask you to send your supporting identity documents by email.
Q: What does “resident from” mean?
A: This is the date you moved into a stated address. Month and year is enough. You will need an address history going back 5 years.
Q: Can employers apply for DBS certificates on behalf of an employee?
A: Yes, as long as you get the permission from the employee first.
Q: What payment methods do you accept?
A: We accept MasterCard and Visa, both debit and credit cards.
Q: Can you also help me with an enhanced disclosure check?
A: Currently we only process applications for Basic disclosure checks.
Q: I live overseas – is that a problem?
A: Not at all. Fill in the form as accurately as you can, giving overseas addresses where applicable. We’ll arrange to have your certificate sent to you wherever you are in the world.
Q: I’ve been asked to have my certificate legalised or Apostilled, can you do this for me?
A: We can’t, but we can give you guidance on how to go about getting it done.
Q: Can I cancel an application in progress?
A: Yes, and we’ll refund a percentage of the fee based on the amount of work done up to that point.