Using the e-bulk system for making multiple applications to the Disclosure and Barring Service, including how to register.
The e-bulk service allows Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) customers to submit multiple electronic applications for DBS certificates and receive the results electronically.
DBS certificates help organisations recruit safely, especially for positions involving work with vulnerable groups including children.
This guide contains information on changes to e-bulk for existing users, and details of how to register for the service for potential new users. It also provides a list of approved e-brokers.
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Advantages of using the e-bulk service
The e-bulk service offers:
- faster results - the e-bulk service reduces the average processing time for DBS checks
- fewer forms to complete - customers can integrate the DBS data requirements into their own recruitment processes and application form
- cost savings on stationery and staff resources
- improved customer satisfaction
It is up to the Registered Body (RB) to decide how they will capture the application information from applicants and transfer it to their centralised system. The e-bulk process only determines how the information is transferred from the RB to DBS.
Registering to use e-bulk
An organisation can apply to become a Registered Body and use the service if it:
- has submitted more than 1500 applications in any rolling 12-month period in the last 18 months
- has a payment on account facility with DBS
- has authorisation from the Lead Countersignatory
- is willing to develop or already has sufficient IT infrastructure to be able to send applications electronically to DBS
To see if your organisation meets the 1500 applications, payment and account criteria, please contact DBS customer services firstname.lastname@example.org.
Countersigning electronic applications
A countersignatory number must be provided within each e-bulk application to indicate which countersignatory has validated the application.
Provision of the countersignatory number conveys acceptance by the respective countersignatory, and equates to the declaration on the existing paper DBS application form.
For this reason, DBS requires that safeguards are in place to ensure that only the countersignatory can apply their number to applications, prior to their submission over the e-bulk interface.
If an individual countersignatory is suspended from submitting DBS check applications the same will apply to their e-bulk status. Any e-bulk applications made by a suspended countersignatory will automatically fail business validation rules and the e-applications will not be accepted.
Verifying applicants’ signatures
It may be necessary for RBs to provide evidence to DBS for prosecution and possible use in a court of law. Where paper application forms and written signatures continue to be used, these will be required by DBS on request, for this purpose. Where an electronic system has replaced the use of paper forms and written signatures, RBs will be required to provide a statement, corroborated by evidence and an audit trail. This will state that on a given date, the applicant:
- represented their identity to be true
- gave a declaration about the information they provided
- gave consent for the application
- corroborated their identity to be true via documentation
Electronic systems must therefore provide an electronic equivalent to a signature. This may be via a tick box to demonstrate the applicant gave their declaration and consent on a particular date and time. For this to be valid, the system would have first authenticated the applicant, for example, by use of username and password.
The RB must be able to demonstrate that the applicant had been informed not to disclose these details to any other third party. In the case that the applicant has declared a representative then a full audit trail of consent must be made available, if requested by DBS. The tick box must default to ‘not ticked’ and require a positive action on the part of the applicant to tick it.
The RB must also provide an electronic signature to confirm that they have performed an identity check, which must also be date and time stamped. Whether using paper or electronic systems, these details must be retained for a period of at least 6 months.
The RB can request a signature from the applicant as part of their recruitment process.
Checking applicants’ ID and identification documents
The applicant must give their employer original documents proving their identity. The documents required will depend on the route the application takes.
More information about identification can be found in our identity checking guidelines.
When an application is submitted, an acknowledgment will be sent within 2 working days (95% are sent within 24 hours). This includes a reference number to enable tracking.
Once an acknowledgement has been sent, the application process has commenced and a new application would be required should there be any changes to application details.
The e-bulk service does not accept Welsh applications.
Submitting paper forms after registering for the e-bulk service
An RB can submit paper forms as well as electronic applications. Paper forms only generate paper certificates which are issued to the applicant only, not electronic responses.
If an RB decides to revert to submitting paper applications only, it should inform DBS so necessary administrative changes can be made.
Using an e-broker
An e-broker offers their e-bulk platform for use by other RBs that would otherwise be required to design and build their own e-bulk interface. Organisations who are considering using an e-broker must still meet all the conditions of registering for e-bulk.
E-brokers have provided assurances, above and beyond those already given for e-bulk, that their IT platform and associated procedures are secure and fit for purpose.
The following organisations are approved e-brokers. If your RB wishes to use such a service, email the relevant contact person:
7 Davy Avenue
Contact name: Disclosures Manager Team
Tel: 03333 207 307
Viables Industrial Estate
Tel: 01420 593830
Cantium Business Solutions
30 Kings Hill Avenue
Contact: Cantium Solutions Team
Tel: 03000 411115
GB Group PLC (formerly TMG CRB)
1 Wilford Business Park
Contact: Lee Hughes (Sales Director)
Tel: 0845 251 5000
Trivex Systems Limited
Contact: Ian Abraham
Email: Ian Abraham
Tel: 0845 224 3519
United Medicare Limited
23 Pickford Road
Contact: Mr Mani Thiagarajan
Email: Mani Thiagarajan
Tel: 020 8306 2806
Contact: Jack Lander (Group Head of Business Development)
Email: Jack Lander
Tel: 0300 140 0022
Talent Cloud Solutions Limited
22 Highbury Park
Contact: Operations team
Tel: 020 3441 3638
There are a number of non-technical documents for e-bulk which inform organisations of their business roles and responsibilities within the e-bulk service. It also includes business process diagrams and information.
More information can be found in our non-technical documents guidance.
There are a number of technical documents which inform organisations of the specifications for e-bulk logical business messages.
More information can be found in our e-bulk technical documents guidance.
Third-party supplier management
This is the process by which DBS and the RB manage third-party suppliers, particularly in relation to the management and security of the delivery of DBS electronic application data.
If an RB’s third-party data processor/supplier has access to DBS electronic application data, whether on an ad-hoc or continual basis, then the processor/supplier must be approved by DBS before it is allowed to access this data.
The third-party data processor/supplier will need to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) to allow DBS to assess its suitability to access electronic application data.
If approved, the third-party data processor/supplier will be asked to sign a contract with DBS that sets out its obligations when accessing DBS data.
More information can be found in our third-party supplier management documents guidance.