Understandably, the depth of security vetting needed for a working in government positions is higher than for many other similar positions. Job advertisements for positions working in central government or related departments will usually state what sort of screening is needed. There are four main levels of security clearance for government jobs. These are:

  • Baseline security standard, or BPSS
  • Counter terrorist checking
  • Security checking
  • Developed checking


Baseline Security Standard

This is the least detailed level of checking, and applies to most entry-level positions. The BPSS is a range of checks into someone’s background including nationality checks to make sure they have the right to live and work in the UK, checks on their employment history and a basic DBS check to verify whether or not the applicant has current, unspent criminal convictions or cautions. There is a wide range of government positions which will require this level of checking, such as working for a local Council or for the Armed Forces, or working for a contractor which is carrying out work in a government department.

The Enhanced Baseline Standard is an add-on to the baseline, and is an extra level of checking for people who might have access to secret information in their job. As well as the basic DBS check and nationality checks, applicants will undergo an interview, and will require references from people who know them well.


Counter Terrorist Checking (CTC)

This lengthy checking can take as long as six months to complete, and is usually repeated every three years. The exact process for conducting a CTC is kept secret, but involves looking into the backgrounds of job applicants, their families and associated to make sure that they have no links with terrorist organisations, or have family links with those who do. Only people who have been a UK resident for at least three years can apply for CTC checking, and applicants have to go through an interview process to get clearance too.


Security Clearance (SC)

This is the most common level of checking for government workers and covers many different occupations. As well as the baseline check, the applicant has to complete a detailed questionnaire, and provide key identity documents such as passport or driving licence. Security checking also involves taking up references from school or employment, and often a credit check too. Applicants must give details of close family members and partners whose backgrounds are also checked.


Developed Vetting

You are unlikely to come across this level of checking unless applying for a top level job in government or in the security services. There is no standard process for developed vetting, and the checks will depend on the role being considered. This is a very stringent level of security check and people can only be considered for these roles if they have been a UK resident for at least 10 years. A detailed interview will be conducted with the applicant, and they will be expected to provide a wide range of financial and personal information.