Who is Responsible for Paying for a DBS Check?

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Thousands of UK jobs and volunteer opportunities require applicants to complete a DBS check as part of their application. DBS check applications involve the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly known as the Criminal Records Bureau) checking applicants’ criminal records to confirm their suitability of working with children or vulnerable adults.

One of the main areas of confusion surrounds who is responsible for paying for a DBS. The short answer is that it depends. This brief guide should clear up any misconceptions.

How Much Does a DBS Check Cost?

There are three levels of DBS checks which are available to applicants. The prices reflect the extent of the criminal record check’s disclosure. In other words, the more digging that’s required by the DBS and local police constabularies, the more expensive the check will be.

The DBS check prices for one-off applications are as follows (at the time of writing):

  1. Basic DBS check - £39.40
  2. Standard DBS check - £51.80
  3. Enhanced DBS check - £69.80

The prices differ to the DBS check costs listed on the gov.uk website because as a registered DBS check body, we have to charge administration fees and VAT.

For employers who require multiple DBS checks, we offer a range of applicable discounts.

DBS Checks for Employers

As far as determining who is responsible for DBS check payments, it is the employer most of the time. The majority of organisations accept the responsibility of paying for Basic, Standard or Enhanced DBS check applications.

Employers looking to hire will usually highlight that a DBS check is compulsory as part of the job recruitment process. This will usually be specified by the governing body (if applicable) as well.

For people working as teachers, private tutors or healthcare providers, they will need to apply for an Enhanced DBS check due to their direct contact with children and vulnerable adults.

However, there is no legal requirement for employers to pay a DBS check fee. Sometimes, the applicant is responsible. Usually, the employer specifies who is accountable in the job description. Most employers who require several DBS checks will usually have an account with the DBS, so will front the cost.

To help employers save time and money, they should only request that applicants apply for a DBS once they have accepted the offer of employment. Depending on the role, they may not start work until they have been deemed safe to work with children or vulnerable adults.

DBS Checks for Volunteers

For voluntary roles, the DBS does not charge either party for Standard or Enhanced DBS certificates. Neither the charity, volunteering organisation nor the applicant will be required to pay.

As long as the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for Standard and Enhanced DBS applications, this will be free.

Please note, administration fees may still be charged by the organisation that submits an application to the DBS. This is not the same as the price of the DBS check itself.

DBS Checks for Individuals

There is no law which states that employers must pay for DBS applications. Some organisations may ask employees to pay for the checks themselves, which can be difficult for people who regularly move jobs or have multiple employers.

At any point, applicants can apply for a Basic DBS check, which only shows unspent convictions (provided they are at least 16 years of age). Applicants can apply for Enhanced or Standard checks once they have been requested to do so by the employing company.

It’s worth enquiring at the interview stage who will be responsible.

DBS Update Service

One of the most effective ways around the issue of repeated payments for DBS checks is to sign up for the DBS Update Service.

When applying for a DBS, you have the option of paying an annual fee of £13 to register. This will give you a login for the DBS website, where you can see your present and past DBS certificates. This also allows employers to see them too, so they can see your DBS checks online immediately, which will help you start work more quickly.

In summary:

  • For most job applications, employers will pay for a DBS online application.
  • Volunteers do not have to pay any fees.
  • Sometimes applicants are responsible for paying, so it’s worth confirming at the interview stage.
  • The DBS Update Service acts as a useful resource of present and past certificates for employers and applicants.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Posted in blog, DBS Check