How Long Does a DBS Check Take? (Your Quick 2022 Guide)

how long does a dbs check take

At Aaron’s Department, our online system is connected directly to the UK Government’s Gateway, resulting in DBS certificates being dispatched quickly, in some cases within 1 hour of the DBS being submitted, although the majority are received after a few days. But in general, how long does a DBS check take?

Well, there can be a small percentage of DBS checks that could take longer if there is a barrier in the way of completion.

Possible barriers can include:

  • Multiple entries have been found in police databases for a similar or the same name.
  • An application is forwarded to multiple police forces.
  • Requests for extra clarification from the candidate are required.

We find that the longest delays are caused at Stage 4.

At this stage, the application is passed to the local police force for each address that the applicant has lived at within their 5-year (or more) history, or to a Police force where information has been possibly identified as belonging to the applicant.

When an applicant has moved around multiple Police force areas in the UK in the last 5 years, the application will need to be passed to each of them.

Where the police need to re-validate the identity of the applicant to say precisely whether the information they have belongs to an applicant or not, the Police force in question could request a fingerprint check, or request copies of the applicant’s main ID documents, which can cause a delay in the process.

The Most Common Delays In A DBS Check

There can be many reasons that can cause a DBS check to take longer, and here are some of the most common reasons for delays:

Paper Applications Take Longer

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways, but not if you want a fast DBS check!

Paper applications are likelier to take longer than online applications because:

  • They have to be posted to the applicant, then back to Umbrella Body. This can easily add an extra 4 to 7 days to the application time.
  • If there are any mistakes from the applicant, the form will have to be sent back to them, again!
  • We all know that post can get lost in the mail – how long do you wait until you decide to fill out another form?

Form Errors

It’s always important for both the applicant and employer to carefully check all the details submitted on the form. If any errors are discovered by the Umbrella Body, then the form will have to be amended, eating up more time.

However, if there are any errors that only the applicant would be able to spot (and they don’t), then the application may be rejected by the DBS, meaning the whole process must start again.

Stage 4

Arguably the most common cause of Enhanced DBS delays is when the application reaches Stage 4, the Local Police Record Check!

This most commonly occurs when the applicant has lived at numerous addresses across England and Wales, as each Police Force local to each address must do a check.

Police Forces

As soon as the Police Force receives the check application, there is no guarantee of how quickly they will complete the check. These turnarounds can be dependent on various factors, such as how many requests the particular Police Force has.

How To Get DBS Checks Returned Faster

As both an employer and an individual, getting your DBS check returned quickly is very important, and below are some ways you can help ensure this happens!

Do You DBS Application Online

When you do a DBS application online, it can be filled out and sent off in just a few clicks – much better than sending it in the post. On top of this, any mistakes can be easily pointed out and changed, without all the scribbling out.

As an officially registered Umbrella Body, we are also connected directly to the UK Government Gateway, meaning we are literally only a click away from sending it off to them when you send it to us!

Use An Umbrella Body That Processes Your Application The Same Day

Many DBS Umbrella Bodies can take up to 5 days until they process and send off the DBS application – some will even charge a premium for prioritising the check! We don’t charge fast track fees.

At Aaron’s Department, we guarantee to submit every application we receive (before 4pm) the same day, because we know how import receiving the results quickly is. Of course, this is assuming that there are no errors that we need to get in contact with you about!

Double-Check The Application

Spending an extra minute or two going over the application could end up saving a lot of time!

Whilst our system does have an in-built error checker, and our team will double-check, there are only some errors the applicant or employer can identify, such as the work being undertaken and previous address history.

No DBS Umbrella Body Can Guarantee Checks To Be Returned In A Certain Time-Frame

It’s important to remember that no DBS Umbrella Body can 100% guarantee to get your DBS check returned in a certain period of time.

This is because once the application has been processed and sent off to the DBS, it is out of their hands. Now the check return time is totally dependent on how busy the DBS is, the accuracy of the information, and other previously mentioned factors.

However, it is possible to speed up the application process!

For example, we have designed our application system with the user in mind, meaning there is automatic error checking, easy to understand instructions, and on top of this, as mentioned, we ensure every DBS application we receive is sent off the same day, when received by 4pm.

To read more about how our online DBS system can help save you time (and money!), you can visit our Benefits of Aaron’s Department’s Online DBS Service page.

How Long Does an Enhanced DBS Check Take?

There is one no size fits all answer for how long an Enhanced DBS will take to be returned because of a range of factors such as the number of addresses lived at or a larger amount of previous surnames. The stage 4 check which is only carried on for Enhanced DBS checks, means that this type of DBS will take the longest out of the three. 

How Long Does a DBS Check Last?

DBS checks have no legal expiration date, instead only the certificate issue date, so in effect, they last forever. 

The information is only accurate to the date that the check was done however so, if something were to happen after that date that could affect a job application, it would not be displayed.

You can read more about this on our dedicated page for this question. 

DBS Update Service

The DBS update service check allows people to take DBS certificates from role to role if the same level of check is needed. For example, if a person has previously had a Standard DBS check carried out, they could use it in a new role if this same level of DBS check was needed.

Using the update service will help to speed up the process of getting the results, rather than applying for an entirely new DBS check certificate. 

If you want to learn more about the DBS update service, we have written a full guide on it. 

If you have other questions about DBS checks, we have a full page on help and guidance, so the answer to your question may be there.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take 2022?
The DBS Checking Process Explained

To answer the question of how long does a dbs check take, it is useful to see what goes on behind the scenes in each stage of a DBS check.

Step 1: The DBS Application is Received

When the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) receive an application, they will check for any errors or omissions. If any are found, it is returned to our Countersignatories, however, as we put the utmost care into our work, this is very unlikely to happen. It may also be returned if the DBS has any questions or clarifications regarding the DBS form.


Step 2: The DBS Application is Received

The applicant’s data is compared against details held on the Police National Computer, identifying possible matches.


Step 3: Children’s and Adult’s Barred List Search (If Required)

If eligible for the applicants’ role, the Children’s and Adult’s Barred List check will be searched. This will tell you whether the individual is allowed to work with Children/Vulnerable Adults.


Step 4: (Only for Enhanced Checks) Local Police Record Check

At this stage, the form is sent securely to any relevant local police forces for a check against their local records.


Step 5: The DBS Certificate is Printed!

Once all the information has been found and checked, the DBS certificate is ready. All the information that is disclosed is printed under highly secure procedures and then posted to the applicant’s address. Only the applicant can reveal the information contained on the DBS certificate. However, our online system is able to tell you the result of the DBS check: whether it came back clean, or if you should wait to see the information on the certificate.


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