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Eligibility for standard and enhanced checks

Aim of this page

This page is designed to bring together information relating to eligibility for standard and enhanced criminal record checks.

Why is this important?

When recruiting new staff, employers don’t always make it clear whether they intend to carry out a criminal record check or what level of check they may be applying for. In addition, some employers may try to apply for a level of check for which a role is not eligible.

If you have a criminal record, the type of check being done may be the most important part of the recruitment process. If an employer is going to do a standard or enhanced check it’s important to know that the role you’re applying for is eligible for this level of check and if it’s not, how to challenge it.

Common roles and level of criminal record check

Basic checks (roles covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act)

Standard checks (roles ‘exempt’ from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act)

Enhanced checks (roles ‘exempt’ from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and included in Police Act regulations)

Specific roles

We have produced an A-Z of job roles and their eligibility for basic, standard and enhanced checks. 

Categories of eligibility for standard and enhanced checks

The types of positions which may be eligible for standard or enhanced checks are contained in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. These can be divided into five broad categories: –

  1. Professions: e.g. medical practitioners, barristers, accountants, vets and opticians
  2. Law & Order: Those employed to uphold the law or involved in the criminal justice system (e.g. judges, constables, prison officers and traffic wardens)
  3. Certain Regulated Occupations: (e.g. firearms dealers, directors of insurance companies, those in charge of nursing homes and taxi drivers)
  4. Health and Social Care: Those who work with children, those whose work is concerned with the provision of care services to vulnerable adults and those whose work is concerned with the provision of health services (e.g. care home worker, social worker)
  5. National Security: Those whose work could put national security at risk (e.g. air traffic controllers and certain employees of the Crown)

Enhanced disclosures

If you’re engaging or planning to engage in regulated activity, it is possible for an employer or voluntary organisation to carry out an enhanced check, including checking whether you’re barred from working with children, adults or both.

It’s important to note that even if a job role now falls outside the revised definition of regulated activity, it may still be entitled to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. This is because roles which were previously subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions Order) and the Police Act 1997 have not changed.

What is regulated activity?

‘Regulated activity’ is concerned with activities which are seen as placing someone in a vulnerable position, for example through a relationship of trust or dependency. There are different definitions of regulated activity, depending on whether an activity involves children or adults.

Guidance on eligibility

The DBS’s Eligible Positions Guidance provides details on the positions that are eligible for a standard or enhanced check. It is not comprehensive and only gives an indication of the general types of employment that are included in the Exceptions Order.

Alternatively, you can use the DBS eligibility tool to check whether the role you’re applying for would be eligible for a standard or enhanced DBS check.

Establishing eligibility

It’s not always clear what type of check a particular role is eligible for. We have produced a process that helps individuals establish the eligibility of particular roles, which runs alongside the guidance above – this is referred to as our establishing eligibility process.

Challenging eligibility

If you think an employer or organisation is carrying out a criminal record check that the position isn’t eligible for, you can challenge it.

Why does it matter?

For people with a criminal record

Any employer can do a basic check. However, only certain roles are eligible for higher levels of checks.

An employer undertaking the wrong level of check can have a huge impact. For example: –

  • If your criminal record is spent, it would not be disclosed on a basic certificate but would be disclosed on a standard or enhanced certificate.
  • If the police hold information about you locally, this wouldn’t be revealed by a basic or a standard certificate, but may be disclosed on an enhanced check.

Once a criminal record check is carried out and your employer has the relevant information, it is very difficult to stop them from applying the information to a recruitment or dismissal decision.

For employers and registered bodies

Registered Bodies (RBs) are required to comply with the DBS Conditions of Registration. This states that they must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that each individual application submitted is eligible for the level of check requested.

The DBS service is underpinned by law. When an RB signs the declaration on the application form, they are confirming that the position is eligible for a check. It is a criminal offence to knowingly submit an application which is not eligible, and this covers employers who use Umbrella Bodies to submit applications on their behalf.

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information can be found on our section on criminal record checks for employment (including DBS checks)
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum



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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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