What is a DBS check?

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is a process to find out whether someone has a criminal record.

Why would I need a DBS check?

The aim of a DBS check is to provide extra reassurance to customers when you will be working in their homes.

It’s required by local authority Trading Standards teams we work in partnership with. If you work in areas where we’ve partnered with the local authority, you’ll need to complete a DBS check if you’re applying to become a Trusted Trader.

Give your customers confidence that they’re using a business they can count on. Become a Which? Trusted Trader.

Who needs to complete a DBS check?

We’ll let you know if you need to complete a check. If so, it’s the head of the business (eg the owner or managing director) who will need to fill it in.

We ask that person to certify that their employees and sub-contractors (if they have any) don’t have any unspent criminal convictions, to the best of their knowledge.

But sometimes, as part of a random survey, we might ask for DBS checks of employees or sub-contractors. We would cover the costs of these checks.

How do I apply?

You need to apply yourself, and you can do this online:

  • If you live or work in England or Wales you need to apply for a ‘Basic Check Certificate’ from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). You must be 16 or over to apply.
  • If you live or work in Scotland you should apply for a ‘Basic Disclosure Certificate’ from Disclosure Scotland and you will need to be over 18 to apply.
  • If you live or work in Northern Ireland you should apply to AccessNI for a ‘basic check’.


When applying, you’ll need to provide details such as:

  • your recent addresses and the dates you lived there
  • identification that shows your name, date of birth and current address.

Your certificate will be sent directly to you by post, which takes several days.

What if I already have a DBS certificate?

If you have a valid certificate that’s less than 12 months old, we may be able to accept it. You can give your account manager a call to discuss it.

How should I send my certificate to you?

You can send us a digital scan of your certificate via a secure web service called Sharefile. We’ll send you a link to upload the certificate, and Sharefile will automatically delete the file after 14 days.

Or you can send it by post and we’ll return the certificate to you after we’ve checked the details.

Will I need to renew my DBS certificate?

Yes. If you have to apply for a DBS check when you join, we’ll need to see an up-to-date version at your endorsement renewal, every 12 months.

If you think that the information in your certificate is incorrect, for example because of a recent conviction, you should tell us as soon as possible.

How do you store the information from a DBS certificate?

The certificates contain sensitive personal information, so we’ll store them securely, as set out in the government’s guidance.

We’ll return any original paper certificates to you and destroy any paper or digital copies once we’ve checked the contents and made a decision about your membership.

More on this