What You Need to Know about DBS Certificates

Portrait of tired young business woman suffering from headache in front laptop at office desk

If you’re applying for a job where a DBS check is required, a physical certificate is posted to the address that you give them on your DBS application form. This is usually done very quickly and without any problems. 

However, if an applicant needs to present evidence of the DBS check to their employer and their DBS certificate has not arrived by the interview time, this may pose a problem. 

Depending on the circumstances, it could be some time before the application is shown to the employer. So what happens if a DBS check has been lost or misplaced? This guide will hopefully clear up any confusion or misconceptions.

What is a DBS Certificate?

A DBS check (formerly known as CRB check) is a type of background check which confirms an applicant’s criminal record, and by extension, their suitability for working with children and/or vulnerable adults.

In 2012, the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) merged with the ISA (Independent Safeguarding Authority) to form the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service). Its primary purpose is to ensure the safeguarding and protection of children and vulnerable adults in various workplaces, preventing unsuitable people from coming into contact with them.

DBS certificates are physical copies of a person’s suitability.

The DBS will check someone for any previous spent or unspent convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands, and in some cases be checked against the Children’s or Adults’ Barred Lists. There are three types of DBS check (Basic, Standard and Enhanced) all of which disclose various levels of a person’s criminal record.

Most DBS checks will be requested and paid for by the prospective employer, but in some cases, the responsibility can fall on the applicant. In those cases, the applicant completes a Basic, Standard or Enhanced DBS check, and a certificate will be issued, assuming the person is deemed suitable. Usually, the certificate will arrive a few days after the application’s been completed and paid for. (NB: volunteers do not need to pay for a DBS check).

Why Haven’t I Received my DBS Check?

A DBS certificate will usually arrive within 5-7 working days at maximum. However, there may be cases when the applicant does not receive their certificate.

This could be due to:

  • An incorrect address on the application form.
  • Misleading or incorrect information on a DBS, which requires further verification.
  • Further checks required by the local police force.
  • The certificate getting lost in the post.
  • The DBS check being sent to the wrong person (e.g. if the property has a shared mailbox).

A lost DBS certificate is not ideal, frustrating, and painful when they do (rarely) happen. It’s often out of your hands if it is lost, but there are ways around this.

What if I’ve Lost My DBS Certificate?

The DBS can issue a reprint of your Basic, Standard or Enhanced DBS check certificate if you meet the following criteria:

The reprint request is made within 3 months of your certificate issue date.
Your DBS check was issued over 14 days ago, and you haven’t received it.
The reprint address matches the address you supplied on your application form.

If you have moved address since you processed your application, you need to ensure you have a mail redirect in place.

The DBS will process all reprint requests within 5 working days.

When Will the DBS NOT Issue Reprints?

The DBS will not issue a reprint of your certificate if:

Your certificate has been destroyed or lost after you’ve successfully received it.
A DBS certificate reprint has been dispatched, and the copy hasn’t arrived yet.
The DBS check was completed over 3 months ago.

In the lattermost case, you would need to apply for a DBS check online again, as the DBS only issues one reprint per application.

DBS Update Service

The DBS Update Service was introduced to keep DBS check applications up-to-date, which benefits both applicants and employers.

Over several years, many people are likely to work for various organisations. This service helps employers get round any delays in processing applications.

When they first apply for a DBS online, applicants are given the option to sign up for the DBS Update Service. It costs £13 per year. Once they submit their first DBS online application, they sign up, and they’re given login information. This information can then be shared with prospective employers.

If they’re satisfied with what they see on the applicant’s file currently, employers can make a judgment call on the individual’s job application.

Please refer to our FAQs or give us a call for more information.


Posted in blog, DBS Check