DBS eligibility guidance

A collection of documents that you can use to decide whether a role is eligible for a basic, standard or enhanced DBS check.

Employers must be based in England or Wales to apply for a standard or enhanced DBS check, regardless of where the work will take place. This is because the legislation that governs eligibility of checks applies only in England and Wales.

You can use our eligibility tool to find out which roles or activities could be eligible for a basic, standard or enhanced DBS check. It’s in beta phase, which means you’re looking at the first version. It will be continually tested and improved.

The eligibility tool is not intended to act as legal advice and doesn’t cover every role. Before you submit an application for a DBS check you should also read the guidance on this page.

If you need more eligibility advice after using the tool and reading the guidance you can contact DBS.

Eligibility guide

There is no eligibility requirement for a basic DBS check. However if you are considering asking a person to apply for a standard or enhanced DBS check, as an employer, you are legally responsible for making sure the job role is eligible.

This should be done before you countersign each DBS application form.

To determine which level of check a role is eligible for, please refer to the following guidance.

Recruitment of ex-offenders

All employers must treat DBS check applicants who have a criminal record fairly and should not discriminate because of a conviction or other information revealed.

For applicants

An organisation is breaking the law if they submit an application for a Standard, Enhanced, or Enhanced with Barred List(s) DBS check if the role you have applied for is not eligible for that level of check. If you have been asked to apply for one of these checks, but believe the check is the wrong level, or should not be applied for at all, you should:

  • check the eligibility guidance on this page to see what level of check is appropriate
  • discuss the issue with your employer – you can seek your own legal advice, or contact Unlock or Nacro for guidance on how to approach your employer

If your application has not yet been submitted to DBS

If you still believe the wrong level of check has been applied for, and it hasn’t yet been submitted to DBS, you can inform us and we will monitor for receipt of the application for a period of time, and when received, we will investigate.

If your application has already been submitted to DBS

If you still believe the wrong level of check has been applied for, and the application has already been submitted to DBS, let us know as soon as possible. Some applications can complete within 48 hours of us receiving them. If your application is still in progress, we may be able to halt it while we investigate.

Please send an email to and enter ‘IAP’ in the subject line. Include the following details in the email:

  • DBS application reference number, if you have it
  • your name, date of birth and the current address provided on the application so we can locate/confirm the relevant record
  • details of what level of DBS check/application you have been asked to apply for
  • the job description and employer’s details
  • why you believe the check should not have been submitted

If the application has not already completed, we may be able to halt its progress and provide you with eligibility advice. We may need to contact your employer, or the Registered Body (RB) that submitted your application, for further information. We will ask your permission before contacting your employer/RB to discuss your application with them.

In some cases we may not be able to advise whether the role is eligible for that level of check, and you may need to discuss this with your employer or seek your own legal advice. You can also contact Unlock or Nacro - these are charities who can provide advice on how to approach employers who may have asked for the wrong level of DBS check.

At any point before the certificate is issued, you can ask us to withdraw the application (please note that fees will not be refunded). You need to be aware that by asking for your DBS application to be withdrawn, your potential employer may withdraw a job offer or take action if you are currently in post and the DBS check is part of a rechecking process. We strongly recommend you have a discussion with your employer before choosing to do this. If you decide to continue with your application, we may not meet our published service standards (the time it takes to complete an application) for issuing the certificate. More information regarding the withdrawal of an application can be found in our DBS check guidance.

Published 18 April 2016
Last updated 22 September 2022 + show all updates
  1. Information for individuals who believe they have been asked to apply for an ineligible check amended.

  2. Link to DBS Guidance Leaflets added.

  3. Information updated in line with the DBS' new online application for basic checks.

  4. Added a link to the new DBS check eligibility tool.

  5. Updated the page format of eligibility guidance.

  6. First published.