Customer helpline: 0333 030 0446

Contractors and DBS Checks

Start my check

Contracting is becoming an increasingly popular way to work and is set to be even more popular in the future. There are both benefits and downsides to being a contractor. It’s perhaps less certain than other types of employment, with short term contracts being the norm, but on the other hand contractors have the flexibility to take on a range of contracts over the course of a year and enjoy a high level of flexibility. Contractors work in a wide range of occupations, from the building industry to IT in multinational companies. Not all of these roles will require a DBS check, but some might. Are there different rules for contractors who require a DBS check?



Being a contractor doesn’t mean that you are subject to any different rules from a regular employee of the company. Whether or not someone needs a DBS check will depend purely on the type of work the person will be doing, whether they are a full-time employee, freelancer or contractor. It may also depend on the setting where that work is being carried out. For example, a plumbing contractor who picks up a contract for a large restaurant chain would not require a DBS check, However, if they then move onto a contract fixing plumbing in schools or a hospital, they might, depending on how the work will be carried out, and when.

The good news is that it’s not up to you as a contractor to work out whether you need a DBS check, and at which level if you do. That’s the job of the organisation which is contracting your services.


Getting a DBS Check

If you do require a DBS check as a contractor, then this will often have to be in place before you commence work. It’s fairly common for contractors to be asked to bear the cost of application themselves, but this might vary depending on market sector.

In terms of application, the process is just the same for contractors as it is for anyone else. You will either be given a paper form to complete or directed to the link for an online application form. Complete the application carefully; this is where most people experience problems and make mistakes which can delay the issuing of the certificate at the end of the process. Then you’ll be asked to confirm your identity by providing a range of documents which show who you are, and where you live. Then the form goes off to the DBS for checking, before finally landing on the desk of your local police force so they can search their records.


Transferring DBS Checks

Another issue for contractors is that DBS checks are not transferrable between settings. If you have contracts lasting for a couple of years, this is not necessarily an issue. But if you’re changing contracts regularly, repeated applications can be time-consuming, not to mention expensive. Consider signing up for DBS Update, a subscription service which allows quick access to your information through an online portal. There is an additional cost, but this should be balanced against the cost of extra DBS checks.