Proving who you are is just part of the battle when it comes to getting a DBS certificate. As well as showing your passport or driving licence to confirm your identity, the DBS also asks for further documents which they call financial and social history documents.


Why is this necessary?

Many of the people who are applying for DBS certificates are doing so because they want to work with vulnerable groups in society, or in positions of great responsibility. In theory, it would be possible to adopt someone else’s identity, get a passport or driving licence issued in that name, and leave your criminal past behind. For those reasons, the DBS needs to put your identity into context. They will ask for an address history going back at least five years, and will look for evidence that someone with the details given has indeed been living where you’ve stated.


What documents do I need?

There are many more documents which you can use to prove financial and social history than to prove identity. Choose from a wide range of different documents such as mortgage statements, bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills, a P45 or P60, any letter from the council or central government, or a national identity card from another EU country. You will need two of these documents to support a DBS application.


Document Rules

Before you start digging down the back of the sofa, there are some basic rules for all documents submitted to the Disclosure and Barring Service. The first is that they must all be original documents. No photocopies, photographs or print-outs can be used. Many of us have switched to receiving bank statements online and pay our bills by direct debit, so this can cause problems. Most banks and other organisations are happy to send out a paper copy if you ask, but this can take time. Employers, or whoever is processing your DBS for you might want to take a copy of your documents but should always give the originals back.

Secondly, all documents submitted have to be recent. If you are using things like utility bills or bank statements, they should be dated no more than 3 months ago. If the paperwork is only issued annually, like a council tax statement or P60, it should be the most recent available. Again, you can request copies if you need to, or choose other items from the list.


Lack of Documentation

People living in shared accommodation, students or those living at home with their parents often struggle to provide bills and statements in their own name. Obviously, the DBS won’t accept bills in other people’s names, even if they are related to you. In some situations, students might be able to submit a sworn statement from a college principal if they do not have enough documentation to support their application. The DBS helpline is a good source of information on documents, and can give help and advice about what to use in any given circumstance.