Criminal record checks for childminders and childcare workers

How to get a DBS check if you want to look after children for a living: who needs a check, what it costs and how long it takes.

DBS checks

You will need to get a criminal records check if you want to look after children for a living.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) carries out enhanced checks on anyone working with children, to make sure the children are safe.

DBS checks usually take about 6 weeks and cost £52.10.

At the end you will get a certificate which you can show to parents or employers.

You will need the certificate to register with Ofsted.

Who needs to be checked

You may need to go through a DBS check if you work directly with children or run the childcare organisation, for example as a:

  • childminder
  • childminding assistant
  • nanny
  • playgroup owner
  • children’s home director

Checks for people in your home

If you’re a childminder looking after children at home then any adults who live with you will also need a DBS check.

This could include your partner, flatmates or housemates, lodgers and children over the age of 16.

Getting a DBS check

You can get a check online using the Ofsted DBS application.

You will need:

  • a debit or credit card
  • your home addresses for the past 5 years

Identity checking form

Once you have applied online you will have to download and fill in the identity checking form.

You need to get a professional – like a teacher, nurse or accountant – to fill in and sign section B of the form.

This has to be a UK resident you have known for at least a year. It can’t be a relative or someone you live with. You can use the Post Office document certification service if you can’t find anyone to sign the form. This costs £10.50.

ID documents

You will need to show the professional your ID documents, like a:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • utility bills
  • bank statement

Return the ID checking form

Scan and email the form to or post it to the address on the form.

Waiting for your certificate

You should get your certificate within 6 weeks. It can sometimes take a lot longer, for example if you’ve lived in different places.

If you’re still waiting after 6 weeks then you could contact DBS.

DBS update service

Ofsted strongly recommends that you sign up for the DBS update service to keep your certificate up to date. This costs £13 a year.

You can then use this for any new jobs or roles with children. You won’t have to apply for a new certificate each time. It also means that if Ofsted needs to repeat your DBS check in the future, for example if your circumstances change, they can do this without you having to pay a fee for a new check.

You have to enter your DBS certificate number to register for the service.

If you already have a DBS certificate

You may be able to use an existing DBS certificate if you have an enhanced certificate for a childcare role.

It will have to say it’s for a home-based position if you are applying to be a childminder.

Ofsted will accept the certificate if either of the following apply:

  • you’ve signed up to the DBS update service
  • the certificate is dated in the last 3 months and you haven’t had any gaps in your employment since that date

If you’re already registered with Ofsted

Ofsted may accept an older certificate if you are already registered with them and you’re moving to a similar role.

A similar role would be one for the same type of childcare position, or a role that doesn’t give you more access to children or greater responsibility.

They will only accept the certificate if you are starting your new position within 3 months of leaving your old one.

Childcare providers

Find out more about DBS checks for childcare providers.

Published 18 October 2017