Guidance

United Kingdom Security Vetting: Applicant

United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV) is the main UK government provider of security clearances.

About DV

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.

National Security Vetting: DV completing your security questionnaire

Getting a Security Clearance

First, you need a sponsor. Individuals must be sponsored to apply for a security clearance. If you are a Civil Servant or serving in HM Forces, this will be arranged when it is decided that you need to undergo clearance. If you are a contractor, 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.

UKSV National Security Vetting: vetting information leaflets

Why do I need 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, UKSV is funded and staffed to meet forecast requirements for security vetting. It cannot accommodate large numbers of additional clearances on an ad hoc basis.

Medical information

If you have experienced certain medical or psychological conditions, our Vetting Medical Adviser (VMA) may need to contact your doctor (or military medical officer) for further information to enable us to fully assess your suitability to handle sensitive data. You will be asked to consent to this, and the form will explain how we collect and safeguard medical information. 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.

Personal Finance (applicable to SC and DV)

  • 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 SC or 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 will provide you with your credit record)

Financial questionnaire: NSV003

The Interview

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.

The Vetting Officer will arrange the interview during normal working hours, and at a place within reasonable travel to your location. This is necessary to better manage the high demand for our services and expedite an individual’s clearance. Under exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for the interview to take place at your home address.

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.

Interview Documentation

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.

General documents:

  • 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 (CV)
  • 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

Decision process

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.

UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information

Criteria for transfer

Before a transfer can take place the following criteria will need to be met.

Security Check and Counter Terrorist Checks: transfer

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • no more than 6 months of a 12 month period between leaving one employment and joining another has been spent living overseas

  • 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.

Procedure

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.

UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information

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.

UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information

Change of personal circumstances

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 (DV holders only)
  • 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

UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information

UKSV National Security Vetting: change of personal circumstances

Change of personal circumstances questionnaire: financial issues

Financial questionnaire: NSV003

Change of personal circumstances questionnaire: criminal conviction/arrest/caution

Change of personal circumstances questionnaire: change of nationality

Please complete and submit a change of personal circumstances form to:

United Kingdom Security Vetting
Building 107
Imphal Barracks
Fulford Road
York YO10 4AS

Security Appraisal Form (SAF)

Background

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.

Basic Principles

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 vetted subjects (DV, SC and CTC) must report any relevant change in their circumstances that could have a bearing upon their clearance. Details of relevant changes can be found under the Change of Personal Circumstances area of this page 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 on-going 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 on-going requirement.

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 on-going 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 appropriate.

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

Do

  • 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

Do not

  • 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 elicit 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

National Security Vetting: security appraisal form

UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information

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.

However, anyone who considers they have grounds for doubting an individual’s suitability for access to protectively marked or sensitive assets should report the circumstances to us.

Notifications of this nature should be made via the NSVS portal please select the AIR option.

UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information

Financial questionnaire

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.

Appeal

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.

Published 14 August 2019