Security Features on Your DBS Certificate

Apply for a DBS Check

Most UK workers are familiar with the general concept of DBS checks, whereby a government body looks into someone’s criminal background, and discloses any offences which might affect their suitability for the job. One of the key aspects of the system is that the certificate is always posted out to the applicant, to allow them to take a look at what has been disclosed before showing their certificate to their employer. This can cause some issues for employers who have to ask themselves one key question – how do we know that the certificate we have in front of us is genuine? There are some key security features incorporated into the paper and the writing, specially designed to make it easier to weed out the fakes.


Comparison is Key

Spotting fakes is much easier when someone has experience in looking at hundreds or thousands of genuine documents. Therefore, it makes sense to have one or just a few key people within an organisation whose job it is to look over the DBS certificates as they come in, rather than delegating the responsibility to individual department managers or team leaders. If a company is relying on a larger number of people to monitor checks coming in, then it makes sense to have one key point of contact for any queries.


Standard Security Features

If you’re not sure whether a certificate is genuine, there are a few simple things to look for which will help you make a decision.

  • Size of paper – perhaps the easiest check is on the paper size. A DBS certificate is 209mm wide by 404mm long, which is a little larger than A4. Just place a sheet of A4 over the top of the certificate to check the size is correct.
  • Printing – a genuine DBS certificate is printed on both sides, not just on the front.
  • The ink colour used for the print is dark purple and should appear consistent and sharp. Words which look squint, or fuzzy, or appear to be in a slightly different font from the rest of the print might indicate that something isn’t quite right.
  • Background design – a genuine DBS certificate is printed on paper which has a background design consisting of the word “disclosure” in wavy print all over the paper. This pattern appears on both sides of the paper.
  • Crown Seal – if you hold up a genuine DBS certificate to the light, you should see a clear Crown Seal watermark repeated down the right-hand side of the paper.


PVG and Access NI

The Disclosure and Barring Service covers just England and Wales, and employers recruiting staff in Scotland or Northern Ireland might also have to deal with certificates issued by other bodies. Fakes can be harder to spot if you’re not as familiar with the real deal certificate. If in doubt, speak to Disclosure Scotland or Access NI, who might not be able to give you many details about individual applications, but who should be able to run you through the security features to look for.