How Long Does a DBS Check Take? (Your 2023 Guide)

How long does a DBS check take? A guide by Aaron's Department

How Long Does a DBS Check Take?

The vast majority of applicants receive their DBS certificate within 14 days of applying.

At Aaron’s Department, our system allows for a DBS application to be filled out and sent to us in a matter of minutes. From there, we’ll check the application for mistakes (with the help of our automated checking system) and send it on to the DBS. Often, we receive DBS results within an hour of the application being sent!

A small percentage of DBS checks end up taking longer however, and this can be for a variety of reasons.

Common obstacles include:

  • Multiple entries have been found in police databases for the same name, or similar.
  • An application is forwarded to multiple police forces – this increases the chances of a delay caused by an individual police force running into internal problems. The more forces, the higher the chance, in our experience.
  • Requests for extra clarification from the candidate may be required. These don’t occur often, but when they do, a common one is a request for fingerprints – for example.

Typically, the longest delays occur 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+ history, or to a police force that holds information that is a potential match to the applicant.

When an applicant has moved between multiple UK police force jurisdictions in the last 5 years, the application will need to be checked by 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 primary ID documents, which can cause a delay in the process.

Related pages:

How Long Does a DBS Check Take: The Most Common Delays

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 usually 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 -7 days to the application time.
  • If the applicant has made any mistakes on the form, it will have to be sent back and forth, 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?

DBS Application Errors

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

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

Stage 4 – The Local Police Checks

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 address’s local police force must perform their own checks.

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. There are cases of DBS checks being delayed because the police have had to drop everything to deal with riots, and other significant policing events.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take: Getting Faster Results

Whether you’re an employer or an individual, getting your DBS check returned as quickly as possible is a top priority. Below are some ways you can improve the chances this happens!

Do Your DBS Application Online

When you do a DBS application online, it can be filled out and sent off instantly in just a few clicks – much faster than sending it in the post. On top of this, potential mistakes are pointed out by our automated checking system, and can easily be changed without any the scribbling out.

As an officially registered Umbrella Body, Aaron’s Department is connected directly to the UK Government Gateway. This means we can send your DBS applications to the DBS in a single click.

That’s one click to send an application from you to us (the Umbrella Body), and another click to send it from us to the DBS. The Royal Mail never stood a chance.

Use An Umbrella Body That Processes Your Application The Same Day

Many DBS Umbrella Bodies take up to 5 days to process a DBS application – some will even charge a premium for prioritising the check!

Not at Aaron’s Department. Every application we receive before 4pm on a weekday, we countersign and send to the DBS the very same day. It’s our free fast-track guarantee.

Of course, if we detect any potential mistakes in the application, we’ll have to check with you before sending anything off. This exchange usually takes us over the “same-day” limit, but it’s preferable to having your application rejected by the DBS!

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 manually double-checks every application, there are only some errors the applicant or employer can identify. These can include previous address history, misspelt names, and what level of check the role legally requires.

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

When considering how long DBS checks take, it’s important to remember that no DBS Umbrella Body can 100% guarantee to get your DBS check returned in a specific period of time. If an Umbrella Body is making these guarantees, that should be a red flag – there’s no way of keeping them!

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

How long do DBS Checks Take: DBS Escalations

If your DBS check has taken more than 60 days to process, you or the Umbrella Body you have applied through, can issue an escalation to the DBS to fast-track your application. In almost all cases, this works, and you’ll have your certificate within the week.

If for any reason your application is still stuck, the Umbrella Body can contact the DBS directly to find out what’s going on – but the chances of this being necessary are tiny. The chart below shows the process:

How long does a DBS check take: Why is my check stuck at stage 4?

How long do DBS Checks Take: The DBS Update Service

The DBS Update Service is a government subscription service that allows users to keep their DBS certificate valid for as long as their criminal record remains unchanged.

This means that workers who legally require regular checks no longer do (saving their employers a lot of money), and they can take their DBS certificates from role to role – as long as the exact same level of check is required for both roles.

Using the Update Service will greatly accelerate the process of getting DBS results because all you have to do is log onto the DBS portal and make sure there have been no changes to the user’s certificate.

However, despite its usefulness, the DBS Update Service has a major downside – it doesn’t notify employers if there is a change to their employees’ certificates (which means a new certificate is legally required). Each individual user profile must be manually logged into and checked, and this is recommended to be done on a monthly basis. Even though it’s faster and cheaper than the alternative, it’s still a massive chore.

That’s why we’ve created an Automatic Update Service Checker. For just £1 a month, per employee, we’ll check them on the Update Service every single day, and notify you as soon as we detect a change. No more manual checking necessary! Click the link to read more about our Automatic Update Service Checker.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take? – Enhanced Checks

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long an Enhanced DBS takes to be returned – a range of factors such as the number of addresses lived at or a larger amount of previous surnames can all affect this – but they do tend to take longer than Basic and Standard checks.

This is because of the stage 4 local police check, which is only carried out for Enhanced DBS checks, and is infamous for causing DBS delays.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take 2023?
The DBS Checking Process Explained

To answer the question “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. This is shown by our handy diagram, and we’ll go into more detail on each step further down the page:

How long does a DBS check take: The stages of a DBS application.

Step 1: The DBS Application is Received

When the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) receives 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 Checked Against The PNC

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 – Only For Enhanced Checks)

If required 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 disclosed is printed under highly secure procedures and then posted to the applicant’s address. Only the applicant can choose to 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 blank, or if you should wait to see the information on the certificate.

How Long Does a DBS Check Take: Conclusion

In summary, the vast majority of DBS checks will be processed in a matter of days, usually no longer than a week – sometimes as quickly as a few hours. In some cases, an application might take significantly longer due to mistakes on the form or a delay at the police’s end.

How long does a DBS check take? A guide by Aaron's Department

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