One of the key steps in getting any DBS certificate is proving that you are indeed the person who is applying for the check. Proving your identity might seem straightforward but the DBS can’t just take your word that you are who you say you are. There is a wide range of official documents which you could use to back up your application, and one of the most valuable of these is a passport. Passports fall into the category of most trusted government documents. It’s not easy to get a passport, they are only issued by central governments, and as they bear the photo of the holder, it’s a great way to match the application to the face. The UK Passport Office has been under considerable stress since the Covid-19 pandemic hit and this has led to changes in the rules around passports and DBS checks.
Before the pandemic hit, the rules were clear about which passports could be used to support a DBS application. Only passports which were current and unexpired could be used for a DBS application. During the pandemic, the numbers of people renewing their passports has dropped sharply. This is mainly because so many of us have had to cancel holiday plans and think there’s no point in paying to renew a passport until we have firm plans to travel. Social distancing laws and furlough have also meant fewer staff at the passport offices to turn around renewals, even after an application has been submitted.
Due to the large number of passports which are expired, or about to expire, coupled with a surge in the numbers of DBS applications, rules about accepting passports have been relaxed on a temporary basis only. People checking identity can now accept passports which have expired within the last six months, assuming the applicant still has the passport and hasn’t sent it away for renewal. This applies to any passports which have expired within the last six months, irrespective of which country initially issued the passport.
Face to Face Checks
The other main temporary change is around the mechanism for performing the checks. Until social distancing became a requirement, the usual process involved getting an applicant to come into the office with all of their documents so you could check over the originals and match the photographs to the applicant. This isn’t ideal in a world where we’re all trying to keep our distance from each other as much as possible.
Also, as a temporary measure, the DBS is allowing checks to be done online, via video link. Employers still have to see the original documents, but these can be held up to a camera with scanned copies sent over by email. This is less time consuming for both applicants and their prospective employees. Although it’s more convenient, the relaxation of rules around face to face checking is just temporary, and it remains to be seen whether the DBS decides to carry on with the changes on a permanent basis.