National Security Vetting
- Ministry of Defence
- Part of:
- Military recruitment, training and operations and Support services for military and defence personnel and their families
- First published:
- 12 December 2012
- Last updated:
- 6 December 2016, see all updates
Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV) is the main UK government provider of security clearances.
DBS NSV eform guidance notes and publications referenced in the following sections can be found here.
It has now been confirmed that operations at the Cheadle Hulme site will be restored on Wednesday 7 November 2016. All services delivered from that site will be available as normal.
DBS apologises for any inconvenience caused by the interruption to service.
The transition from Cerberus to the National Security Vetting Solution (NSVS) has been successfully completed and NSVS is now live.
The NSV enquiry centre opening hours over Christmas and New Year are now available:
|Friday 23 Dec 2016||8.00am to 1.00pm|
|Monday 26 Dec 2016||Closed|
|Tuesday 27 Dec 2016||Closed|
|Wednesday 28 Dec 2016||9.00am to 3.00pm|
|Thursday 29 Dec 2016||9.00am to 3.00pm|
|Friday 30 Dec 2016||9.00am to 1.00pm|
|Monday 2 Jan 2017||Closed|
|Tuesday 3 Jan 2017||Normal Service|
Activation links for the portal have been issued to all existing sponsors who applied for an account.
If you experience technical issues with activating your account please contact the DBS ITMS enquiry centre by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0161 426 7210 or (Military network) 965 717 210.
Please select ‘option 2’ for NSV Technical Help. These contact details should only be used if you are experiencing technical difficulties when trying to access your account. They should not be used to contact DBS NSV for any other purpose.
Our enquiry centre will be able to assist with these and all other enquiries but, as with all new system launches, call volumes to the team may be higher than usual until users become familiar with the new functionality and you may have to wait longer than usual before your call is answered. Sponsors are reminded to provide their sponsor ID in any communication as this will aid our service delivery. The enquiry centre can be contacted on 01904 662 644.
Current guidance has been updated to include NSVS enhancements and is now available on GOV.UK to view online or print for future reference.
Case Management System (CMS) users
Account holders have been issued with new password information which, when used with an existing username, will immediately prompt the user to perform a password change before being able to access NSVS CMS.
If you have not received your password please contact the DBS ITMS Enquiry Centre by calling 0161 426 7210.
If you forget your password we recommend that you use the ‘Forgotten your password’ link after 2 failed attempts to log in. This will enable you to reset your own password. After 3 failed attempts, the “User account locked” message will appear and you should place a service request to the DBS ITMS Enquiry Centre for the account to be unlocked and the password reset, there may be a significant delay in obtaining this.
Within the defence community Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV) provides National Security Vetting (NSV) for the 3 armed services, Ministry of Defence (MOD) civil servants and defence contractors, as well as providing NSV for MOD trading funds and other government departments.
Privacy and Data Protection
The Data Protection Act 1998 came into force on 01 March 2000 and sets out rules for processing personal information and, with some exceptions, applies to vetting paper records as well as those held on computers.
We are required to hold your personal data lawfully, to ensure that the data is accurate and kept up to date and is not used for any purpose other than national security vetting. The security questionnaires show when and under what circumstances personal data may be shared and the checks that will be made. Personal data will not be passed outside the security community, (including to police authorities) except in exceptional circumstances.
Vetting records are generally kept within DBS NSV for an individual’s working life. The standards of secure storage and confidentiality described above are kept for the entire retention period, whether or not the Subject is a current National Security Vetting holder and irrespective of the sensitivity of the personal data.
All personal information gathered during the vetting process is handled in the strictest confidence. In a very small number of cases, where serious risks have been identified we may discuss the case with the relevant security authorities. In a few cases, and with the permission of the person being vetted, line management may be given some relevant information and be asked to help manage the risk. There is an extremely remote possibility of disclosure of vetting information in connection with criminal or civil proceedings. If you have any concerns about confidentiality please contact us for advice.
If you need access to ‘Secret’ or ‘Top Secret’ information, or have a proximity to public figures who have been assessed to be at particular risk from terrorist attack you need the appropriate level of national security clearance. You will be going through the vetting process if you are either being considered for a post where you will have access to highly sensitive information or assets, or because we are looking at your current clearance to allow you to carry on in your present post or to allow you to move to another post.
There are 3 security levels:
- Counter Terrorist Check (CTC): is carried out if an individual is working in proximity to public figures, or requires unescorted access to certain military, civil, industrial or commercial establishments assessed to be at particular risk from terrorist attack.
- Security Check (SC): determines that a person’s character and personal circumstances are such that they can be trusted to work in a position which may involve access to ’Secret’ information.
- Developed Vetting: (DV) in addition to SC, this detailed check is appropriate when an individual has long term, frequent and uncontrolled access to ‘Top Secret’ information. There is also Enhanced DV.
If you have a criminal record this will be judged on its own merit. It is important to be completely open about any criminal history, you should include details of any spent convictions and police cautions in your security questionnaire.
Any attempt to hide information could be taken as evidence of unreliability/dishonesty and may affect your clearance.
More about Developed Vetting
DV is the most thorough method of security vetting. The DV process includes a check of your identity documents and employment and education references.
We will carry out criminal records and credit reference checks and a check against security service records. We will also double check some of the references by writing to or interviewing the individuals who provided them. The individual being vetted will also be interviewed by a Vetting Officer.
Getting a Security Clearance
First, you need a sponsor. Individuals cannot ask for a security clearance unless they are sponsored, and you will not be sponsored unless the company that is employing you (or you yourself, if you are a consultant) are contracted, or are in the process of being contracted, to work on 1 or more specific MOD classified projects.
If the company is LIST X, it will be able to sponsor your clearance itself. If you are employed by a company that is subcontracted by a LIST X main contractor, the LIST X firm will also be able to sponsor you. If there is no LIST X sponsor, the MOD authority responsible for placing the contract will sponsor your clearance.
Note: Due to security reasons we are unable to populate an individual’s form from information previously provided so even if you have been vetted before you will need to go through the process again.
Rationale for requiring a sponsor
Government resources are committed every time a clearance is requested so it is essential that this is used correctly. A sponsor is usually your human resources/personnel office, line manager or company security controller.
Your sponsor is someone who is required to verify that the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) was done prior to your employment and can also verify that your role requires you to have the identified level of clearance.
Being security cleared does not provide a guarantee of future reliability and all security clearances are kept under review to ensure that the necessary level of assurance is maintained. This review is carried out by government departments and government sponsored contractors who are responsible for the oversight and aftercare of individuals granted a security clearance. It is also the sponsor’s responsibility to inform us when a subject ceases to require security clearance.
This overview would not be possible in the case of private individuals. Additionally, Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV) is funded and staffed to meet forecast requirements for security vetting. It cannot accommodate large numbers of additional clearances on an ad hoc basis.
The eform and security questionnaire explains how we collect and guard medical information. To enable us to fully assess an individual’s suitability to handle sensitive information, our vetting medical adviser may contact your doctor (or military medical officer) for confirmation on whether you have suffered from certain medical or psychological conditions. We may also request that you have a medical examination.
If you do not allow us access to your medical reports we can refuse your vetting clearance.
The reason we require a financial questionnaire can vary. One of the standard checks we carry out when someone is being security cleared is with a credit reference agency. If you have been living overseas, or in service or similar accommodation, we may have little or no information about you and we will be unable to assess your suitability for clearance. The completed questionnaire enables us to proceed with your clearance.
Sometimes, where you have told us about financial problems in the past, you will be sent a questionnaire so that we can assess your current situation.
If you or your partner have previously been or are currently in serious financial difficulty, or show signs of financial irresponsibility, you could be vulnerable to pressure or bribery.
Debts such as mortgages, loans or credit cards will not normally affect your suitability to hold a DV clearance as long as you are able to keep up the repayments properly. However your financial situation will be carefully considered and each case will be judged on its merits.
We may make enquiries if you seem to have large amounts of savings that you cannot explain. The Vetting Officer will ask you to bring some financial and other documents to the interview (see below for details).
If you have a partner we recommend you share all this information with them. Without your partner’s details we may have insufficient information to make a decision on your clearance. Please be assured that we do not retain any bank or credit card numbers.
You must complete all the questions in the questionnaire. An incomplete questionnaire will be returned to you and this will delay the vetting process. It is essential that you are open and honest in your answers. Please do not lie or hide information. Doing so is likely to result in your clearance being refused.
We cannot provide you with financial advice or send you a copy of the information received from the credit reference company. Organisations that may be able to offer advice include the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, StepChange, the National Debtline or ‘Experian’ (who, for a small fee they will provide you with your credit record).
The interview is the main worry for most people who go through the DV process. The subject interview is likely to be long; up to 3 hours is not unusual.
Interviews are normally carried out at work during working hours. In some cases the Vetting Officer may ask to interview you at your own home.
You can have a friend, colleague or relative at the interview. Most people prefer to be interviewed alone in view of the sensitive nature of the things that will be discussed.
It will cover most areas of your life. The vetting officer will build as complete a picture of you as is possible. This is so we can make sure that you will be able to cope with access at the highest levels and will not become a security risk and a threat to national security.
We consider your loyalty, honesty and reliability, and whether you could be particularly vulnerable to bribery or blackmail. We will question you about your wider family background (relationships and influences), past experiences (if any) of drug taking, financial affairs, general political views (though not which Party you support), hobbies, foreign travel and so on.
The interview will be very searching, but it is not an interrogation and should not feel like one. Some of the questions will be intrusive but are asked because we are trying to find out if you are vulnerable to pressure. If you have any doubts about the relevance of some questions you should ask the Vetting Officer why they are asking the question.
You should be completely honest. The Vetting Officer will be experienced and it is unlikely that they will be shocked or surprised by anything you say. Please do not lie or hide information.
We will probably refuse your clearance, or subsequently withdraw it, if we later find out that you have lied or withheld information. If you tell the Vetting Officer about a previously undisclosed criminal offence the matter will be included in their interview report and will be assessed accordingly. A decision will then be made on what action is to be taken.
Sometimes people have aspects of their lives that they are ashamed of or embarrassed to tell us about. Usually these are of little or no security significance. They will generally not stop or restrict the granting of a security clearance.
If you would feel more comfortable talking about certain matters with a different Vetting Officer (someone of your own sex, age profile, or ethnic group, for example), let us know and we will try to arrange this for you (Telephone: 01904 662644).
If you need any special facilities to enable the interview to take place, please tell the Vetting Officer when they contact you.
The following list is not exhaustive but these are the documents that the Vetting Officers commonly ask to see (where appropriate). Please note that all documents must be originals.
Any additional requirements will be notified to you by the Vetting Officer, normally in advance of the interview. Any delay in providing these documents is likely to delay your clearance.
- evidence of identification, for example: birth certificate, passport*, driving licence, identity card
- Deed Poll or certificate of declaration in respect of any change of name
- naturalisation or registration certificate
- adoption certificate
- marriage certificate/civil partnership documents
- Decree Absolute or Nisi
- separation or maintenance Orders
- HM Forces (HMF) discharge certificate
- curriculum vitae
- utility bills
*passport is also required as evidence of travel.
Financial documents (in respect of you and your partner):
- bank current accounts (statements for the last 3 months)
- details and statements for the last 3 months of all charge and credit cards, store and mail order accounts
- details and statements of all loans and hire purchase agreements
- details of mortgage and copy of last mortgage statement
- details of any County Court Judgements
- last 3 pay statements
- documents and statements connected with savings and investments
- any other documents which support or help to explain any figures on the Financial Questionnaire
The decision to grant a security clearance will be based on the available information obtained during the vetting process.
Unless you are being recruited directly into a security cleared job, you will be told the outcome of the vetting process by your sponsor (usually your human resources/personnel office, line manager or company security controller).
If you are refused a clearance you will be told what actions are available to you.
Transfer of a NSV clearance within MOD organisations and defence contractors
If you hold a NSV clearance and you transfer or move to a new organisation, there may be a continuing requirement for them to hold a security clearance either at the same or lower level. For example, a serviceman or woman leaves one branch of HMF and transfers to another service or moves on to a role in defence industry or as a MOD civilian. Similarly an employee of a defence contractor moves to another job and is employed by a different contractor.
In these situations the new employing sponsor submits a request to us for the security clearance to be transferred. The ‘Transfer’ request allows us to assess the individual’s suitability for transfer of the security clearance and enables the outcome to be recorded against the correct sponsor. The request can be for the security clearance to be at the same level issued to the original sponsor or at a lower level, based on the needs of the new sponsor. An example of this would be when the SC element of a DV clearance is needed by the new sponsor. It is for the sponsor to set out what is required and for us to consider whether the request for transfer can be met.
Criteria for Transfer
Before a transfer can take place the following criteria will need to be met.
Security Check and Counter Terrorist Checks - Transfer
a. The SC must not be more than 10 years old for directly employed MOD, HMF or List X contractor’s personnel, or for an employee of a Non List X contractor, more than 5 years old (for SC) or 3 years old (for CTC). If a direct employee of MOD, HMF or List X transfers to a Non List X contractor, the security clearance can be issued for the remaining duration of the extant clearance or 5 years (SC) or 3 years (CTC), from the date of the transfer, whichever is the lesser.
Developed Vetting - Transfer
b. The DV clearance must not be more than 7 years old for directly employed MOD or HMF (excluding reservists) personnel or 7 years for List X and 3 years for Non List X contractors’ staff. If a direct employee of MOD or HMF (excluding reservists) transfers to List X, the DV can be issued for 7 years from the original start date. Non List X organisations cannot hold clearances in their own right so the transfer would need to be applied for by the contracting company or IPT.
c. The expiry date of the SC must not have been exceeded. However, if it is established that the vetting subject has remained in continuous employment an extension of up to 6 months may be permitted to allow time for a review to be actioned. In this instance the extended DV clearance may be transferred.
d. You must take up the post for which you were originally DV cleared within 12 months of the clearance being issued and you must not have been out of a post, for which they required DV clearance, for more than 12 months.
Counter Terrorist Check, Security Check and Developed Vetting, common criteria - Transfer
e. No more than 12 months has elapsed since you left the organisation for which the clearance was originally granted or subsequently transferred to and joining the one applying for the latest transfer.
f. No more than 6 months of a 12 month period between leaving one employment and joining another has been spent living overseas.
g. You must not have undergone any of the following changes in your personal circumstances since the application for the security clearance for which a transfer under consideration was made: marrying, remarrying, entering into a civil partnership, setting up a stable unmarried relationship which includes living with someone as a couple.
However, if a change of personal circumstances (CPC) questionnaire has already been completed and has been satisfactorily processed, the transfer should still be able to go ahead. Otherwise, it may be possible for the transfer process to be paused while the vetting subject completes a CPC form.
Once a prospective sponsor has satisfied themselves that a transfer of clearance is feasible they should submit a Transfer Request Form via the NSVS Sponsor Portal - you will require a valid sponsor account in order to access this facility.
Please select the ‘other services’ option on your home page and select relevant transfer option in the Vetting Service section.
No email requests are accepted all transfer requests must go through the portal.
Existing clearances and aftercare
Aftercare is the term we use for the maintenance of effective personnel security. Its purpose is to investigate and monitor anything of continuing security concern, between periods of normal review, which could affect an individual holding a NSV clearance.
The CTC, SC and DV security vetting processes give an assurance of an individual’s suitability for access to sensitive government information or other valuable assets. However, vetting alone does not give a guarantee of future reliability. It is important that personnel security continues after the initial security clearance is approved and that any new information or concerns that may affect the reliability of a person are brought quickly to the attention of the appropriate authorities. This is achieved through a combination of aftercare and the routine security clearance review procedures.
Aftercare also includes any risk management measures put in place to monitor the security reliability of individuals who hold a security clearance.
Extraction of SC from DV clearance
Where a DV clearance has expired, or is no longer required, for customers requiring the underlying SC, please select Vetting Service Aftercare - Transfer Extract and submit.
Change of personal circumstances
If you hold a security clearance and, you have a responsibility to report to us any change in your circumstances that might affect it. You must tell us if any of the following occur:
- you marry, remarry, enter a civil partnership or set up a stable unmarried relationship, living with someone as a couple
- you are arrested, cautioned or convicted of a criminal office
- there is a significant change in your financial situation
- you acquire a new nationality, or renounce one that you have held
- if you hold a DV clearance, you must notify us when anyone aged 18 or over begins living with you in your household, or when a young person who is already living with you reaches 18 years of age. For this purpose, ‘household’ means a group of people living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room, sitting room or dining area: it does not include people with whom you live in a hostel or in shared service accommodation, Police etc.
Please complete and submit a change of personal circumstances form to:
Defence Business Services National Security Vetting
York YO10 4AS
Security Appraisal Form (SAF)
The initial component checks that comprise Security Vetting clearances can only provide a snapshot at the time they are done. It is essential therefore that clearances are actively maintained via effective on-going personnel management processes, which at the DV level will include an annual security appraisal.
Line managers or supervisors of staff who have undergone DV or who are supervising contractors who have DV clearance should be aware of their responsibilities with regard to regularly engaging staff on security issues and the requirement to complete the annual security appraisal process.
Managing security clearances requires active conversations between individuals and managers throughout the year and prompt reporting of any issues of concern as they arise. The SAF should be completed by all individuals who hold DV clearance to provide assurance that they are being supported and monitored as is appropriate for individuals with access to sensitive assets. This process may be extended to other vetting levels, for example SC or Enhanced SC.
This applies to all vetted staff, be they civil servants, crown or public servants or contractors. The Basic Principles to take into account are:
On appointment, all staff and contractors in a vetted role should be briefed by their Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller on the security requirements specific to their role and the risks that NSV and other local security controls are intended to mitigate. Line managers should be satisfied that vetted staff understand their security responsibilities and the consequences of not meeting them. All DV staff and their managers will have received a standard letter outlining their responsibilities when they are vetted which should be issued as provided to all relevant individuals. Individuals should also receive a security induction from their Line Manager (or Security Unit/Security Controller), the completion of which should be recorded as per local procedures.
All vetted subjects (DV, SC and CTC) must report any relevant change in their circumstances that could have a bearing upon their clearance. Details of these relevant changes are explained in the ASAF but can be found under the ‘Process for DV - Individuals’ area of this page.
To maintain a clearance, an annual security clearance review must be completed by DV staff (and staff with additional or Enhanced SC) and their Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controller. This includes all DV or Enhanced SC contractors and their Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers.
If the annual review process has not been completed by DV (or Enhanced SC) staff, this will bring into question the individual’s suitability to retain security clearance. Departments and industry partners will have discretion to suspend or lapse an individual’s clearance as appropriate (industry partners should work with the relevant Government department to agree the best approach and ensure relevant information on individual cases is shared). In all instances where no action has been taken to complete an ASAF – following reasonable reminders – departments will be expected to take action, including to suspend or lapse an individual’s clearance where appropriate.
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers should monitor behaviour that could potentially impact on the security of the organisation. For example, signs of inappropriate behaviour or negligent practices contrary to security arrangements. This is an ongoing responsibility that is part of good line management and not just a requirement in relation to completion of the ASAF process.
Whilst there is no fixed requirement to complete an annual security clearance review for SC, CTC and BPSS staff, local guidance may expand to include these groups as appropriate. Any security concerns in respect of staff generally should be reported to the local security unit who will record it and take follow up actions where appropriate.
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers are not Vetting Officers but should be expected to exercise both a duty of care for staff and be mindful of potential security risks to the organisation. The ‘Maintaining Security Clearances - Guidance for Staff and Contractors’ and ‘Maintaining Security Clearances - Guidance for Line Managers/Supervisors’ leaflets found on Gov.uk provide common sense guidance to support this process.
Whilst vetting confidentiality must be maintained, organisations must ensure any relevant information is shared appropriately between vetting units, HR and Line Managers to help manage staff and staff performance in a joined up and holistic way.
The security appraisal requires the Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller to make an assessment of an individual’s continuing suitability to hold DV (or Enhanced SC). Where there are issues of concern the line manager may be interviewed (or ask to be interviewed) by the security unit/security controller to further explain concerning or complex areas.
Process for DV
As a minimum the security appraisal should be completed on an annual basis. The individual (vetted subject) is responsible for completing their part of the form and for ensuring their Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller completes their part.
Individuals (clearance holder)
Individuals should think about their security clearance as a credential they must maintain – whilst there are formal review periods, clearances may be reviewed, suspended, lapsed or be withdrawn at any stage if the organisation no longer has the necessary confidence or assurance in the individual. This is especially so in respect of DV clearances, which give individuals access to the most sensitive assets. Individuals should be aware that they must exercise discretion, good judgement and apply the necessary security controls as an ongoing requirement. Each individual is responsible for reporting Change of Personal Circumstances to their local security unit or directly to the vetting provider in a timely manner. The type of changes that should be reported will include:
- if you get married, enter a Civil Partnership or start living with a partner as a couple
- if you divorce or terminate a Civil Partnership
- if you change your name for any reason
- if a new co-resident age 18 or over begins living with you in shared accommodation
- if you have had a substantial change in your financial circumstances (for example, you have been declared bankrupt, have received a sizeable inheritance or your financial circumstances have been impacted by divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership)
- if you have received a criminal conviction or have been arrested or cautioned by the police (including by military police if relevant);
- if you change your nationality, including naturalisation, acquire a new nationality/dual nationality or revoke a nationality/dual nationality.
- if in doubt individuals should speak to their Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller or directly to the local security team
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers
Line Managers, Supervisors and Security Controllers are expected to exercise a duty of care for their staff and to be mindful of the potential security risks associated with issues such as personal relationships, health, debt, bereavement or extremist views and also to meet their obligations to the organisation in mitigating risks against assets (including information) arising from bad security behaviours.
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers must complete the annual security clearance review for DV staff and contractors.
The clearance level for each post should also be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is appropriate. Where security vetting requirements change, the appropriate notification must be passed to security and HR areas.
All security appraisals will be looked at and may prompt a request to discuss issues with the local security unit. Any concerns about completing the form should be addressed to local security units. If there are no areas of concern then no further action needs to be taken once the form is completed.
Process for Enhanced SC
Individuals who hold Enhanced SC clearance and their Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers should follow the process for DV staff as set out above.
Process for Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC) and Security Check (SC)
Individuals (clearance holder)
Individuals retain a responsibility to meet the security practices of their area at all levels of clearance. They should:
- ensure that their contact details are up to date on HR systems and that they notify their local security unit, vetting provider or security controller of any change in role or contact details
- exercise discretion, good judgement and apply the necessary security controls as an ongoing requirement. These behaviours and standards are summarised in the ‘Maintaining Security Clearances - Guidance for Staff and Contractors’ and ‘Maintaining Security Clearances - Guidance for Line Managers/Supervisors’ leaflets found on Gov.uk which provide common sense guidance to support this process
- discuss concerns with line managers or local security areas at the earliest opportunity about events or changes in their lives that have led (or could lead) to someone exerting pressure to extract information, allow unauthorised parties access to assets etc
- take action where other members of staff are acting oddly or in a way that is against their local security guidelines. Individuals have a personal responsibility to inform line managers and/or to take appropriate action themselves to address
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers
Line Managers, Supervisors and Security Controllers are expected to exercise a duty of care for all staff and to be mindful of the potential security risks associated with issues such as personal relationships, health, debt or bereavement at all levels of security clearance.
- take responsibility to ensure your team regularly reviews whether appropriate security is being maintained across the area
- raise concerns and ensure security is being discussed at appropriate boards
- raise issues of concern through to senior management and local security officers as appropriat.
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers have concerns about any individual they should first speak with the member of staff/contractor in a timely manner and then highlight any residual concerns to local security teams and arrange for them to be recorded on the individual’s vetting or personnel file as set out in local policy.
Process for BPSS
While BPSS checks are not part of vetting all staff at all levels retain a responsibility to follow the security guidance and processes for their area and to be aware of their personal responsibilities.
As BPSS is a one off pre-employment process it cannot be withdrawn. However, if an individual is found to be associated with groups or acting in a way that could cause concern, the department/organisation may choose to take actions to restrict or monitor that individual more closely.
General advice to Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers
- make sure the individual you are assessing understands the necessity of the questions on the form or being raised in discussion
- ask difficult questions where there is cause to do so. If an individual refuses to discuss an area of concern with you, this should be recorded
- offer the individual access to welfare/HR/Occupational Health if appropriate and as available in your department/organisation.
- challenge negative or disruptive behaviours as this is part of good performance management as well as security management
- offer support and work collaboratively with security and HR to address issues at the earliest point
- make a recommendation on the basis of moral or ethical judgements (explicit or implied) about anything you are told – remember the context is how trustworthy the person is in their professional role
- pursue a point for curiosity or to illicit unnecessary information. Discussion should focus on the behaviour and performance of the individual and how it affects their suitability to continue to hold clearance
- make assumptions - gather evidence
- modify your assessment because an individual or other party is unhappy - the ASAF is about the evidence and your assessment of it
Aftercare Incident Report (AIR)
AIRs should be raised by local security officers in cases where actual or potential security concerns exist about an individual who holds a security clearance.
If information become available that raises doubts about an individual’s suitability for access to protectively marked or sensitive assets the circumstances should be reported to us.
Notifications of this nature should be made via the NSVS portal please select the AIR option.
A financial questionnaire is used to determine your financial circumstances, either as part of the initial security vetting process, or as part of the aftercare monitoring work which confirms your continued suitability to hold a security clearance.
Subject Access Requests (SAR)
You are entitled to apply under Data Protection Act 1998 to see the personal data held on you by us. This should be done by submitting a subject access request to us.
On receipt of a properly completed identified SAR, we will have 40 calendar days to reply.
Some data may be supplied in redacted (edited) form or withheld in accordance with the provisions of the Act, especially where it is supplied by a third party or falls under a national security exemption.
eforms are available over the RLI (MOD restricted network), GSi (government restricted network) and internet. They provide both flexibility and help prompts for completing the vetting application online, thus improving the ease and speed of completion. The completed forms are then uploaded directly into the NSVS case management system.
eform applications are instigated by a sponsor on an agreed network (RLI, GSi or internet). Upon account creation by the sponsor the subject is automatically emailed a unique link to the relevant eform portal to complete the application.
There are many advantages of using an eform including help prompts and inbuilt business rules to minimise or eliminate errors. This means that the number of rejected forms and requests for further information will be minimal. Also, vetting subjects are directed to complete only the questions that are relevant to them. The forms are flexible and allow the application to be saved at any stage. Once completed it is submitted directly into NSVS.
The whole technical solution for the NSVS IT vetting system has been fully security accredited, which includes the assessment of security risks and how these are managed. This is from the completion of the security questionnaires online, through the RLI/GSi and Internet eform portals, to the back end case management system and database, which manage the workflow of the vetting process and record the vetting information.
For people with no secure access, completion of an online security questionnaire will be done on the eform portal accessed through a secure site on the internet. This is the same type of set up that is used when you access your online banking. You will notice that the web address line turns green in the web browser and displays a padlock which shows that the eform is operating through a secure site albeit on the internet.
Initial access to the eform portal is achieved only through a unique link which is sent to your chosen email address either automatically through your sponsor or through our enquiry centre’s account creation process. This link is unique to your application and directs you to the eform portal where access is controlled by a thorough personal authentication process to verify identity, from which you are mandated to create your own login details that remain known only to you to enable subsequent access.
Providing information about vetting subjects
If you have been named as a supervisor or character referee for someone who requires a NSV clearance, you may be asked to provide information about that person. This will be in the form of an interview with a Vetting Officer or by a written testimony form. As with data supplied by the vetting subject, this will not be passed outside the security community except in exceptional circumstances, and will not be supplied to the vetting subject without your express permission.
If you work outside the Government email network and receive a written testimony form as an email attachment, you will see the following notice:
You may choose to return your response by email or in hard copy to the address shown on the form: a reply paid envelope can be provided on request. Please be aware that if your response contains sensitive personal data email is not a secure method of transmission unless sent from a government network.
It is not possible to define “sensitive” personal data, although you may feel this applies to data which is clearly private and which the vetting subject would not wish to be widely known. If you require further advice or to discuss the type of information you are providing and how it may be transmitted, please contact the NSV Data Protection Officer.
Requests for ‘security certificate’ for employment purposes
You should note that although the record of security decisions are kept by us, the formal notifications of clearance announcing decisions are sent only to the vetting sponsor. You are not sent a copy of the notification of clearance, primarily for security reasons: the notification represents a vetting decision made on the day of issue, and clearance may have been lapsed or withdrawn at any time since that date.
If at any time you need to know your vetting status for employment reasons, the sponsor or prospective sponsor should contact the DBS NSV enquiry centre. We will release a copy of a Notification of Clearance in response to a SAR that specifically requests this, but it will be amended to show that this does not necessarily represent current vetting status. The following wording appears on all current Notifications:
This notification of clearance refers to the employment and sponsor for which it was raised. It may be transferable: refer to appropriate security regulations (SPF/ JSP 440) for details. Please note that a clearance may be withdrawn or may otherwise have its status changed at any time before its expiry date. To confirm that this clearance remains valid, you should (if you hold a sponsor / vetting status information (VSI) account) use the NSVS VSI facility. If you do not hold such an account contact the DBS NSV enquiry centre (01904 662644) to check the status of the clearance.
There should therefore be no reason for vetting subjects to request a copy of their notification of clearance for employment reasons.
Registering as a sponsor
It is a requirement that all sponsors are registered before they can submit an eform or hard copy NSV applications. Therefore if you need to sponsor an application or have a requirement to frequently enquire about the vetting status of a subject (i.e. whether they have a valid NSV clearance) through the vetting status information facility but do not have a sponsor account then you will need to follow the guidance below.
Any NSV applications received without a sponsor account will be returned to source because the new tighter security measures require full registration of sponsors. Once you have registered, you will need to provide your unique identifier when making any future enquiries to the DBS NSV enquiry centre, telephone 01904 662644.
You will need to contact your departmental security authority (DSA) to discuss your requirement to act as a sponsor for NSV applications or to have access to a VSI account. If the DSA agrees to the request they will send you a registration form and guidance notes to complete and return to them. Should the DSA not approve the request they will inform you of the reason for the denial.
The DSA will check the registration form and sanction the requested account(s) and forward this information to us for an account to be created in NSVS. Please note that in no circumstances should the sponsor send their completed registration form directly to us, the DSA must first authorise all sponsor account requests.
The account will normally take 2 working days to process and once complete the NSVS system will automatically notify the sponsor by email on how to verify and action their account. The system will also automatically send the new sponsor their unique sponsor ID by email. This unique ID must be entered on all eforms and hardcopy NSV applications. Our enquiry centre advisors will also request this unique ID from all callers before they confirm any vetting information.
Should the sponsor forget or misplace their unique sponsor ID they should contact the DBS NSV enquiry centre who will action the request to the customer accounts team, they will then respond to the request.
Further information on obtaining a sponsor account can be sought by contacting the relevant DSA for your business area.
Using the eform portal
Once a sponsor account has been created by us, a confirmation registration email is automatically generated and sent to the sponsor.
Information for decision makers
There are an array of benefits to other government departments (OGDs) and Service Lead Commands (SLCs) gaining Case Management System (CMS) access to NSVS:
- increased and targeted automation, coupled with improved cross agency interfaces, will result in a decrease in processing times for straightforward applications.
- the quality of decision making will be enhanced as less time will be spent on clerical effort.
- OGDs and SLCs will have real time access to vetting information on which to base their decision making.
Access to NSVS CMS is restricted to authorised users holding a valid security clearance of SC or above. This must be confirmed by the account requestor and will be verified by DBS prior to account creation. NSVS CMS users must immediately stop accessing any part of the system if their security clearance ceases to be valid and this fact must be reported immediately to the Vetting Authority and System Administrators.
This will ensure we can maintain our current level of confidence in the personnel security credentials of all NSVS CMS users as an extra level of assurance in the security and integrity of NSVS and the protection of its data.
If you require further information contact the DBS NSV enquiry centre.
Case Management System
The NSVS CMS is the main vetting system which manages and processes all vetting cases. It is available to designated MOD and OGD decision makers. The CMS is accessible through the RLI, PSN Protect (IL3) and PNN networks at Impact Level 3 (IL3). It allows decision makers visibility of all the information linked to a vetting case on which to base their clearance decision.
Referees and Hiring Managers
A referee should be someone who has known you well over a significant recent period of your life. We will ask them to describe you and your way of life away from work.
The Vetting Officer will double check the information given in the vetting questionnaire. Please make sure that the referees you have nominated are aware that you have nominated them and are willing to be interviewed. Please also advise them that they will not necessarily be contacted.
(Note: An information leaflet is issued to all referees who are to be interviewed). It would also be helpful if you could advise anyone else who we might contact, such as your current/previous senior officers/line managers or educational establishment, that you are undergoing vetting and have agreed to the process.
Please note that our enquiries will not be confined to past and present employers and nominated character referees.
Choosing a referee
We ask former employers, senior officers and educational establishments for information about you.
We also ask you to choose some people who have known you well for a significant recent period in your life, to act as referees. We hope that you will ask such people for permission first and make sure that they are willing to be interviewed.
We will not necessarily contact all Referees who have been nominated. Our enquiries will not be confined to past and present employers and nominated character referees.
Role of a referee
If we decide to use you as a referee, the Vetting Officer will question you to double check the details that the person being vetted has given us and those we have collected by carrying out other checks.
After you have received the referee’s information leaflet the initial contact will be by telephone. There may be some delay due to operational priorities and other factors, so please be patient. Interviews will usually be face to face but may occasionally be conducted by telephone.
If you have sensitive information to divulge or feel uncomfortable discussing the person being vetted over the telephone, a face to face interview will always be arranged.
If you wish to employ staff awaiting their clearance there is no central regulation prohibiting the employment of people awaiting the security clearance. The decision whether or not to do this, limiting access as necessary, is a risk management judgement for the area concerned and as advised by his or her security staff.
In making this judgement, the business manager must take into account the sensitivity of the business area, the information held, and local conditions of work and of the practicality of limiting access. If in doubt, Personnel Managers should deal with us directly. For a security clearance case contact the DBS NSV enquiry centre (01904 662644) to agree arrangements.
There is no requirement to re-vet staff that re-join within a year of leaving, other than in exceptional circumstances. Where a security clearance needs to be transferred the receiving personnel authority/company should phone the DBS NSV enquiry centre (01904 662644) at the outset to find out whether an individual holds a clearance and to initiate the transfer.
Contractors and Consultants
Guidance on security clearance for companies who bid for MOD contracts?
You do not need to hold security clearances to bid for MOD work advertised in the Official Journal of the European Community and other sources. The MOD contracting procedures make sure that there is no competitive advantage in having prior security clearances. Requests for clearances must be raised during the contractual process.
Advertising for staff that already hold a security clearance is contrary to government policy, unnecessary and potentially discriminatory, as laid out in the Cabinet Office code of practice document, “Recruiting for vacancies requiring National Security Vetting Clearance.” Any individual who sees such a criterion specified in advertisements when seeking employment can inform the Cabinet Office by forwarding full details of the post and the employer to the following email address: email@example.com.
Forms and Guidance
Use of hard copy forms
Submitting an application, financial questionnaire or Change of Personal Circumstances form through the eform portals is the preferred method. However, hard copy forms may be submitted under exceptional circumstances.
The new hard copy form NSV001 and form NSV002 are Cabinet Office forms.
The ability to save these forms either during or after completion is not available. These forms must printed off and completed by hand.
The eforms have been designed for ease of use and contain both user prompts and extensive built in business rules which minimise or eliminate the need to return forms for further information. They also have the advantage of being able to be saved during completion, making them a much more efficient method for submitting applications. With this in mind please carefully consider your reasons for submitting an application using the hard copy forms.
If you are a civil servant, member of HMF 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.
International Personnel Security Clearance
NATO clearance notification requests
Requests should be made via the NSVS Sponsor Portal - you will require a valid sponsor account in order to access this facility. Please select the ‘other services’ option on your home page and complete Vetting Service - Aftercare NATO form and submit.
No email requests will be accepted after 7 November 2016.
International Personnel Security Clearances
In the UK a ‘Personnel Security Clearance’ (PSC) to access NATO, EU or international partner’s classified information is based upon you holding a valid clearance at the SC or DV level.
If you are an existing MOD employee or UK defence contractor and you require access to international classified information (at the level ‘Confidential’ or higher), to fulfil your duties then contact your local personnel Security Officer. This Security Officer should then contact us: DBS-NSV-CustomerEnquiries@mod.uk.
If you are a Security Officer of an International Organisation or foreign government and require a UK national to be vetted for access to international classified information (at the level ‘Confidential’ or higher), then you will need a NSVS sponsor account. If you have a NSVS sponsor account already you can submit a vetting application for the UK national by logging onto NSVS and initiating a new request. If you do not have a sponsor account then you need to apply for one, as vetting applications are made electronically via NSVS. Please consult Cabinet Office guidance before submitting an International Customer Sponsor Account application form, plus a short cover letter (or contractor PSC confirmation form) explaining and confirming the vetting requirement for the subject, to the UK National Security Authority: UK-NSA@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk.
If you are a NATO or EDA security officer that does not need to submit new applications, but you frequently need to check whether UK members of staff in your international organisation have existing security clearances, then you still need to hold a sponsor account. Please make clear in the “brief explanation” field of the International Customer Sponsor Account Application Form that you need the account for this purpose only. Once registered, you will be able to make enquiries on NSVS.
In case of difficulty, you can seek assistance from us: DBS-NSV-CustomerEnquiries@mod.uk. You will need to give the subject’s full name, date of birth and place of birth, and your 7 digit Sponsor ID. Note that requests without an ID will not be processed.
It is important to note that the UK does not undertake speculative vetting, and will not process vetting application requests made by the subject directly.
JSP 440 (Part 6, Section 2, Chapter 9, Paragraph 11) provides policy advice on the requirement for sponsors to ensure that individuals have the appropriate level of security clearance before they are posted (or sent on temporary detachment) to foreign countries and that the security clearance remains valid for the period of the posting.
Due to the current financial restraints we will only conduct overseas vetting interviews in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Cyprus for MOD customers, as this is where our Vetting Officers are currently based. Interviews in other countries will not be completed for MOD or List X customers.
When contacting us sponsors are required to identify themselves by their sponsor ID. ASI/VSI information can only be discussed with registered sponsors that have NSVS sponsor accounts.
If you have forgotten your sponsor ID or you have registered for an account but not received your sponsor ID yet, please contact the DBS NSV enquiry centre. You will be asked a number of questions to establish your identity. Once your identity has been confirmed we will inform you of your sponsor ID.
If you have not registered for an account please contact your authorising body or DSO. If you are MOD, a list of authorising bodies can be found on the Defence Net / DBS NSV Team site / Departmental Security Authorities link. Other government department sponsors should contact their DSO.
Defence Business Services National Security Vetting
York YO10 4AS
DBS NSV Enquiry Centre
Telephone: 01904 662 644 Military: 94777 2644
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
We welcome your feedback about the service we provide. Please contact us using the email address DBS-NSVfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Concerns about accuracy or relevance of personal data
If you feel that any of the information held on you is not correct or needs updating, or if you have concerns about the way it is processed, please contact the NSV Data Protection Officer.
The vetting charter sets out the rights which people are entitled to when undergoing the vetting process. If you think the DV interview was conducted unfairly or improperly see our complaints procedure.
We treat anyone who goes through the vetting process fairly. We take care to ensure that all information we collect during the vetting process is accurate.
All personal information gathered during the vetting process is handled in the strictest confidence. If serious risks have been identified, we may discuss cases with the appropriate authority.
In a small number of cases, and only where the individual being vetted agrees, line management may be provided with some relevant information and be asked to help manage the risk. There is a remote possibility of disclosure of vetting information in connection with criminal or civil proceedings.
- we will treat our vetting subjects, referees and stakeholders fairly, openly and with respect. Vetting subjects and referees may change their mind about taking part in the vetting process at any time
- any information that is given to us will be treated in confidence
- vetting interviews will be carried out in private at a mutually agreed time and location
- if vetting subjects or referees prefer to be interviewed by a Vetting Officer of their own sex, age profile or ethnic group, we will try to accommodate their request
- vetting subjects and referees may ask us to justify any questions that they feel are irrelevant or invade their privacy unduly without good reason
- we will offer vetting subjects the option of receiving a copy of the vetting interview, unless the organisation that requires the clearance has a different policy
- we will give customers, stakeholders and interviewees the chance to provide feedback about our service and the vetting process and advise them how to complain should they wish to do so
- if we refuse a vetting clearance we will tell the vetting subject what actions are available to them
Published: 12 December 2012
Updated: 6 December 2016
- Disruption to Cheadle Hulme resolved announcement updated.
- Announcement of Cheadle site evacuation added
- Christmas and New Year enquiry centre opening hours added
- Announcement updated
- New announcement
- Updated information throughout
- Updated announcement
- New NSVS announcement included
- New announcement added to page and deletion of old information
- Announcement updated.
- Further NSV reminder announcement included
- Latest NSVS update included
- Announcement for sponsors included.
- Latest update announcement added.
- Latest National Security Vetting update available
- Added announcement about the National Security Vetting Solution (NSVS) project.
- DBS NSV page updated with the latest information
- Change to announcement
- Updated announcement
- New announcement
- Annoucement included
- Announcement removed
- Announcement added
- Remoed of announcement.
- Added announcement about issues experiened when creating applicatios on DBS NSV Internet and RLI Portals.
- Update to telecom issues.
- Removal of background paragraph
- Intermittant problems with the telephones message included.
- Removal of Christmas opening hours.
- Latest update on phone line incident.
- Update on telephone lines.
- Removed section on feedback.
- Removed announcement 23 October 2015: FAO GSI/PSN network users.
- Added announcement 29 October 2015: email access issues
- Added notice: 23 October 15 – FAO GSI/PSN Network users regarding outage.
- Removed the announcements section as there are no current announcements available.
- Updated opening hours for Enquiry centre.
- Removed What are the definitions for routine priority and immediate requests for clearance? section of content.
- Added announcement for the latest DBS National Security Vetting sponsor bulletin.
- Deleted announcement.
- Added new announcement regarding release of SC eform.
- Removed Christmas opening times announcement.
- Added new announcement for opening hours.
- Added new announcement 20 November 2014.
- Added annoucement about the RLI Portal outage taking place 4 December from 4:00pm.
- Removed expired announcement.
- Added link to DBS National Security Vetting sponsor bulletin.
- Added announcement
- Updated Contact us section and move up the page.
- Removed some of the out of date announcements.
- Added announcement under Business Development and Improvement Update
- Amended announcement 17th July 2014.
- Added new announcement dated 23rd July 2014.
- Added new announcement and updated another.
- Added new announcement regarding NSV forms.
- Removed text in the ROUTINE - Process section of the table.
- Updates have been completed in the following sections "What are the definitions for priority and immediate requests for clearance?" and "What will I be asked at interview as a vetting subject or as a referee".
- Updated 'Contractors and consultants' section with new text. Replaced complaints section with link to complaints procedure document.
- Updated information about International Personnel Security Clearances
- Updated section "NATO Security Officers" which is now titled "NATO security clearances".
- Updated the opening times for the Contact Centre for Vetting.
- Removed announcements dated 9 May 2013 and 11 April 2013.
- Added announcement for 11 November 2013.
- Added 'RFC 107 improve decision maker working' announcement
- Added an announcement
- First published.