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Basic DBS checks

Everything you need to know about basic DBS checks

About Basic DBS checks

Official name

Criminal Conviction Certificate (often known as a ‘Basic DBS disclosure’ or ‘Basic DBS check’)

Issued by

Disclosure and Barring Service or Access NI


It is commonly used for employment positions covered by the ROA. It’s also used in other situations (e.g. insurance claims) where you might need to provide proof of your unspent convictions.

What it contains

Essentially, it contains unspent convictions. For guidance on whether your conviction is unspent, click here.

For checks carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service the certificate will include all unspent convictions recorded on the Police National Computer, the Scottish Criminal History System and the Criminal Record Viewer (Northern Ireland Conviction System).  For Access NI it is the Police National Computer and the Criminal Record Viewer.

For each conviction it includes the date of conviction, the court, the offence committed, the date of offence and the sentence/disposal.

Note – The details surrounding the sentence/disposal can sometimes come as a surprise, as many people don’t realise exactly what formed part of the ‘sentence’ that they received, such as certain disqualifications, fines or prohibitions.

There is more detail about how certain sentences, disposals and other penalties are treated on basic DBS disclosures further down this page.

The example below shows what a basic DBS disclosure looks like when revealing unspent convictions.

How to apply

There are two ways of applying for a basic DBS check:

You can apply for a basic check by going directly to the DBS via their online self-service channel.

Key points:

  • It costs £18.
  • Your identity will be verified either by GOV.UK Verify or by the Post Office.
  • You provide all the information online.
  • It does not have the option to give a 3rd party consent to view the check.
  • It does not provide eResults to any intermediary or employer (as you have applied directly).
  • You can choose to have your paper certificate sent to a 3rd party.

You can apply for a basic check through an organisation that is registered with the DBS. Referred to by the DBS as a “Responsible Organisation (RO), an employer or other intermediary could be registered with the DBS. These are allowed to submit applications for basic checks via a DBS web service. The DBS has guidance on the organisation that can be used.

Key points:

  • The cost will vary – it will cost £18 plus whatever extra cost is charged by the intermediary. This might be covered by the employer.
  • An employer will need to be registered with the DBS themselves, or use an intermediary that is registered, to get a basic DBS check through this route.
  • There is a list of these organisations, and the DBS call centre can advise of the latest ones.
  • Only one paper check is issued – if the applicant consents, the paper check can be sent to an alternative address, such as the employer’s address.
  • There will be an eResult sent to the registered organisation.
  • The check will be available online – known as an eCertificate.
  • The registered organisation will:
  1. Be responsible for collecting the information about you and verifying your identity.
  2. Be able to check the status online.
  3. Be able to request an electronic (eResult)

Who can apply for it

You (or somebody on your behalf, with your consent).

Legally it is the individual who applies, although third parties do submit applications on behalf of individuals. Sometimes, employers will ask applicants to put the employer’s address as a ‘care of’ address so that it’s sent straight to whoever is undertaking pre-employment checks and the Disclosure and Barring Service will facilitate this.

Contact details

Find out about the contact details of Disclosure and Barring Service
Find out about the contact details of Access NI


£18 (Disclosure and Barring Service) £26 (Access NI)
The cost is sometimes covered by the organisation requiring it.

Where it is sent

To you, although you can choose for it to be sent to an employer as part of the application process, though in this situation you won’t receive a copy.

If you’re applying for a job at a new company and it involves a basic DBS disclosure, you might want to be aware that a high proportion of basic applications that employers apply for go via the ‘bulk electronic’ process which is likely to mean that although the disclosure will be addressed to you, it will be sent to the employer’s address. This may result in the employer opening it, particularly if you have given your consent for them to do this. Other employers might simply request that you apply for the disclosure, but put their address down as the ‘care of’ address. This makes it even more important that you make sure that you find out about your criminal record before applying for specific roles.

How long it takes

Within 14 calendar days

How certain disposals are treated

This section provides some details on how certain disposals are treated on basic DBS disclosures. This section should be read alongside our detailed guide on working out whether convictions are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Technically, a compensation order does not become spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act until it is paid in full.

However, in practice the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will consider a compensation order as paid in full if it:

  1. was for an amount of less than £100; or
  2. is over 6 years old

If your compensation is for either of the above, it means that your basic check will be processed without you having to provide proof of payment of the compensation.

If your compensation order was for more than £100 or is less than six years old, then you’ll need to provide the DBS with proof that it has been paid in full.

If you didn’t get this at the time of paying it, you should be able to get something from the court at a later stage. In England and Wales, you can obtain a letter of confirmation from the court when any compensation order has been paid in full. The DBS have also confirmed that they will accept copies of emails sent to you by the court so long as the email relates specifically to the compensation order and confirms that payment has been made in full. There is guidance in the magistrates’ courts’ staff manual as to the wording to be used by courts in a proof of payment letter relating to compensation orders.

A copy of that letter or email should be provided to the Disclosure and Barring Service either with your application or separately in confidence if your application is being submitted via a third party.

To submit proof of payment independently of submitting an application, you can send it:

You should quote your application barcode or reference number, or your name, current address, and date of birth in your communication.

Once you’ve submitted proof once, the Disclosure and Barring Service should keep this on file in case you have to apply for a further disclosure in the future.

It’s important to note that if the DBS see that a compensation order is holding a conviction back from being spent, they should write to you asking whether you have any proof of payment.

If you end up receiving your basic check without providing proof and the compensation order is on there, you’ll probably have to make another application, alongside your proof of payment, to have another one issued.

This is something that we are challenging, as we don’t believe that the system of having to provide proof is workable or fair. It’s not particularly clear when you apply for a basic DBS disclosure that you have to provide this proof, and many people don’t even realise they have a compensation order.

Orders for disqualification from working with children under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 are not treated as ‘sentences’ as such, and so do not impact on whether the conviction appears on the basic DBS disclosure. It’s the ‘sentence’ that is used. So if you received a 3 year prison sentence, and an indefinite/lifetime disqualification, it would be the 3 year sentence that would be used to work out how long the conviction appeared on the basic DBS disclosure.

If the conviction remains unspent, the Disclosure and Barring Service are currently disclosing the fact that somebody is subject to the notification requirements. The length of time subject to these should not be taken into account when deciding whether the conviction is spent, but if it is unspent, it might be disclosed. This is something that we are challenging.

How to correct inaccurate information

For the Disclosure and Barring Service, email or write to the Disclosure and Barring Service, PO Box 165, Liverpool L69 3JD

For Access NI, you should write to the Department of Justice, Block B, Castle Building, Stormont Estate, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT4 3SG
You have 90 days from the date of issue of a certificate to raise a dispute.

DBS Subject Access Requests

You’re entitled to know if the DBS holds any information about you and if so, to be provided with a copy of that information. This process is referred to as a Subject Access Request.

Other information


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