Although Brexit has made it more difficult for workers from the European Union to come to the UK, there are still thousands of people arriving in the UK each year to take up a new job. The points system introduced by the government means that many of the people who arrive to work in the UK are here to take up positions in healthcare, education and other specialised roles which require a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England and Wales. Similar bodies run checks for people who live in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For workers who have spent their lives in the UK, only going overseas for holidays, the process is straightforward. Things are more complicated when recruiting workers from overseas, or when dealing with people from the UK who have spent extended periods travelling, studying or working overseas.


DBS Process for Overseas Applicants

The criminal records checking process through the DBS, or its sister bodies can only ever look at someone’s criminal record in the UK. If someone has never lived in the UK, or has spent long periods out of the country, their criminal record check will be incomplete. This makes things a lot more complex when it comes to looking into any convictions or cautions, they may have had in the past.

Someone who has lived sometime in the UK and other periods overseas will need a DBS check in the normal way to cover their times living in the UK. Separate checks will have to be sourced from overseas police agencies to cover their time abroad. For someone who has never lived in the UK at all, all checks will be completed with the foreign police body.


Cost for Overseas DBS Checks

Dealing with potentially several police departments around the world can be complex and time-consuming. Each country has its own rules about the process for criminal records checks and how citizens can access this information. For countries where certificates are produced in languages other than English, there is also the time and cost involved in having them officially translated. There is a very useful guide on the DBS website listing the process and official bodies for each country in the world and the terminology which each country uses. If the applicant is already in the UK, checks are usually accessed through the Embassy. If they are yet to come to the UK, they will have to deal with their local police department to get their certificate, which may be called a certificate of good character or similar.

Fees also vary hugely between countries. Most employers will meet the cost of getting a DBS check or equivalent for their staff, but legally are not obliged to. Remember also the cost of getting the information translated, which can often be more than the check itself. All workers, whatever their nationality, will also need to formally prove their identity, and also their legal right to residency and work in the UK.