How long has it been since your employer asked you to complete a new DBS check? If you can’t remember, or think it was probably years ago, is this something you should be worried about? The topic of renewing and expiry of disclosure certificates is more complicated than it might appear. The good news is that it’s mainly the responsibility of your employer to keep up to speed with the rules and regulations in their industry.


DBS Certificates Don’t Expire

One of the main myths – and one you’ll hear again and again – is that DBS certificates have an expiry date. Criminal record check certificates never have a “valid to” date printed on them, and this is the case whether you are applying in England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. DBS certificates are printed with the information considered relevant on the day the certificate is printed. As there is no way of adding to that certificate if anything else comes to light at a later date, then there is no way of adding that to the DBS certificate. The certificate is just a snapshot of the situation at any particular time. DBS checks are sometimes referred to as criminal records checks, or CRB, and some people will talk about making a CRB application. Although this terminology is outdated, you’ll still hear and read it, but it just means the same thing.


One-Off DBS Checks

In some cases, you might not need to renew your DBS check at all. In some professions such as veterinary medicine, or accountancy, people need a DBS check when they initial register into the profession as a Vet or Chartered Accountant. Once accepted onto the register, there is no need to renew checks, annually or every five years. That’s not to say that people working in these professions won’t ever need to submit a DBS or CRB application at any time in the future, as should they move into a role in financial services, or perhaps working in a hospital, extra checks might be needed.


Renewing your DBS Check

As there is no expiry date on a DBS check, how do you know when it’s time for a new one? This isn’t a decision for an individual, it’s something your employer will decide on, depending on the needs of their industry. Anything between three to five years is common, and most employers will let you know when it’s time to renew. Most larger employers will have written policies and procedures around this, usually under the safeguarding umbrella.


Process for DBS Check Renewal

The bad news for anyone who has been told that they need to renew their DBS checks is that there are no short cuts, unlike renewing other official documents like passport or driving licence. The renewal process for a DBS check is exactly the same as for a new application – fill in the forms, prove your identity, let the Police do their searches. Layout of forms and requirements might have changed since the last time you filled them in, so take care to read the form carefully before filling it in, even if you think you know what you’re doing. Gather together your evidence of identity, such as passport and utility bills, making sure that you are choosing documents dated within the last three months. Unlike a DBS check when you start work first, your employer is unlikely to stop you working until the new check is received. It’s good practice though to start the application as soon as you are asked to do it. Delays are unpredictable at the best of times, but during a pandemic, applications are moving even more slowly. NHS applications, and those from healthcare workers, are being prioritised. This could be to your advantage when it comes to renewing your DBS check, but is something to consider if you’re not in the healthcare sector.


DBS Update

One way around the whole issue of renewing and paying repeated fees for new DBS checks if you move work, then another option is to sign up for the DSB Update programme. This comes at an additional annual subscription cost, and the expense probably isn’t worth it if you are not swapping jobs often and are just applying to renew a DBS check every two to five years. However, if you’re the sort of person who changes jobs often, and who is frequently paying out for new DBS checks, then it might be worth looking at.

DBS Update is an online service, giving subscribers access to an online site containing their disclosure information. This database is updated with any new information as it comes to light, meaning that the information is always current. Subscribers can either log into the database themselves to look at their information or give the details to a new employer and let them log on to look instead.