How to get a criminal records check if you want to look after children for a living: who needs a check, what it costs and how long it takes.
Applies to England
You will need to have an enhanced check with barred lists from the Disclosure and Barring Service, if you want to look after children for a living.
Find out if you can use an existing DBS certificate.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) carries out enhanced checks with barred lists on anyone working with children, to make sure the children are safe.
DBS checks usually take about 6 weeks and the fees can be found in the guidance on DBS checks.
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:
- childminding assistant
- 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 or work there regularly during childcare hours will also need a DBS check.
This could include your partner, cleaner, housemates, lodgers and children over the age of 16.
Find out more about people connected with Ofsted-registered childcare.
Getting a DBS check
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.
You will need to show the professional your ID documents, like a:
- driving licence
- utility bills
- bank statement
Return the ID checking form
Scan and email the form to email@example.com 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 will only accept a DBS certificate within 3 months of the issue date. Because of this, Ofsted strongly recommends that you sign up for the DBS update service to keep your certificate up to date. This costs £13 a year.
If you don’t join the DBS update service, and there are issues or mistakes that delay your application, you might have to get a new DBS check.
If you join the service, you can then use your DBS 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 subscribe to the DBS update service within 30 days of your certificate being issued.
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.
We can usually accept existing certificates of this type if you’re signed up to the DBS update service.
If you’re not signed up to the DBS update service, we can only accept your certificate if both apply:
- it’s dated in the last 3 months
- you obtained it through the Ofsted DBS application
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.
Ofsted will only accept the certificate if you are starting your new position within 3 months of leaving your old one.
Find out more about DBS checks for childcare providers.