Defence and armed forces – guidance

National security vetting for the Armed Services

DBS NSV provides national security vetting to the 3 Armed Services and other customers across the public sector.


Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV) is the UK’s largest government organisation carrying out National Security Vetting (NSV) and the only government organisation whose core business is security vetting.

Within the defence community it provides NSV through direct financing to the 3 Armed Services, MOD civil service and defence contractors.

It also delivers a range of NSV services on a repayment basis to 86 customers across the public sector. It has more repayment customers than any other UK NSV organisation and this number is increasing.

Customers are provided with assurances ranging from site admission to unrestricted access to material classified up to top secret. This assurance can be tailored to individual risk management needs. We also provide a service of help and customer engagement through visits and group open days to support this work.


DVA became Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV) in 2011. In 2012, the Secretary of State for Defence announced the intention to establish DBS, by bringing together the delivery of a range of corporate service functions to support all areas of the department from one organisation. DBS has been established as an efficient and integrated organisation that provides customers from across the department with a single point of contact that delivers real benefits, provides services that add value and has the full commitment and involvement of its staff.

This change in operating status will have no adverse impact on the service provided. In fact, being part of a larger organisation will reinforce the DBS NSV ability to deliver the next phase of business improvements to the Cerberus IT system. These changes will continue to improve the service to all DBS NSV customers.

The DVA has always been at the forefront of modernising the NSV process across government, improving the speed and quality of vetting decisions and DBS NSV will continue to move vetting policy forward. At this time DBS NSV is currently being considered with its FCO counterpart (FCO Services) as the single provider of NSV to the whole of government (excluding the intelligence agencies). DBS NSV will continue its close relationships with the Cabinet Office on NSV policy issues and with our valued repayment customers governed by joint business agreements.


Who decides whether a security clearance will be granted?

We will make a recommendation in the light of all the available information obtained during the vetting process.

Will I be told the outcome of the process?

Unless you are being recruited directly into a security cleared job, you will be told the outcome of the vetting process. This is not our responsibility; it is the responsibility of your sponsor (usually your human resources/personnel office, line manager or company security controller).

What if you refuse my clearance?

If you are refused a clearance you will be told what actions are available to you.

Can I appeal against a vetting decision?

If you are a civil servant, member of the Armed Forces or employed in the defence industry then internal appeal procedures are open to you to appeal against vetting decisions.

In addition, if the internal appeal process does not satisfy you, you can be referred to the independent Cabinet Office Security Vetting Appeals Panel. Applicants for employment have no formal right of appeal.

Will a criminal record result in clearance being refused?

Not necessarily. Each case will be judged on its merits. The important thing is to be completely open about any criminal history - including spent convictions and police cautions.

Any attempt to hide information could be taken as evidence of unreliability/dishonesty and may affect the clearance.

Case management system

The Cerberus Case Management System (CMS) is the back end system which manages and processes the vetting requests. It is available to designated MOD and OGD decision makers. The CMS is accessible through the RLI, GSi, CJX and PNN networks at Impact Level 3 (IL3). It allows identified sponsors to see where in the vetting process a vetting request is and what parts of the process are yet to be completed. It allows decision makers visibility of all the information linked to a vetting request on which to base their clearance decision.