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A Guide To DBS Checks For The Self-Employed

Oct 4, 2023 | DBS

If you’ve ever applied for a job, you have most likely undergone a DBS check. Once completed, you are issued with a certificate that contains information about your criminal history. This information is often used by employers to assess whether you’re a suitable candidate for a role.

Generally, these checks will be initiated by potential employers or third-party organisations. But what if you’re self-employed? How do you go about requesting DBS checks in this scenario? In this blog, we will explore the intricacies of DBS checks for self-employed individuals.

Self-employment in the UK

In recent years, there has been a surge in self-employment. As of June 2023, there are approximately 4.31 million self-employed individuals who are actively contributing to the economy. This trend remains true for various professions, ranging from freelance creatives to sole traders, consultants, and entrepreneurs. 

When you consider the significant amount of flexibility and autonomy self-employment offers, it’s easy to see why self-employment appeals to so many individuals. 

However, this independence also brings with it a unique set of responsibilities, including the need for transparency and accountability. You may find that the clients, contractors and suppliers you wish to collaborate with may ask you to supply them with a DBS check in order to verify your trustworthiness. 

This is where DBS checks can help. By referencing your criminal history, these checks become a tool for showcasing your legitimacy to relevant parties. 

Do I need a DBS check if I’m self-employed?

The answer to this question can be somewhat complex, as it will depend on the type of work you do. In many cases, you may simply need to obtain a Basic DBS check, which you can easily do yourself. 

However, if your work will result in frequent interactions with vulnerable adults and children, you will be required to get a higher-level check. Some examples of these jobs include: 


For these roles, an enhanced DBS check (with a
barred list) or a standard DBS check will be mandatory. It’s important to note that individuals are not allowed to apply for these types of DBS checks themselves.

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

How to Apply for a DBS Check if Self-Employed

As a self-employed individual, you can only apply for a basic DBS check, for which you will need to supply documents that verify your identity (Group 1 documents). This is the lowest level of DBS check, and any individual can apply for this. 

For standard and enhanced checks, you will also need to submit documents that verify your physical address (Group 2a), as well as documents that vouch for your social and/or financial history (Group 2b). Unfortunately, you cannot apply for these higher-level checks as an individual. 

How to Get an Enhanced DBS Check When Self-Employed

Regardless of whether you are self-employed or not, you cannot apply for a standard or enhanced DBS check. In cases where you are eligible for such checks, the organisation that wishes to work with you will need to request the DBS check on your behalf. 

Final Thoughts on DBS Checks for the Self-Employed

Self-employment opens up a world of opportunities with regard to autonomy and flexibility. However, as with any job, the people you wish to work with will want to ensure that they are engaging with a trustworthy person. 

DBS checks play a vital role in doing this. While applying for a DBS check as a self-employed individual may seem tricky, the process actually remains quite the same as if you were applying for a traditional work role. 

At DBS Checks Online, we have worked in this industry for years. If you need any assistance, feel free to reach out to our team

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