DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

DBS Checks is a leading umbrella body for the Disclosure and Barring Service and has been named one of the top 8 providers for criminal record checks in the UK.

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What Are The 5 Stages of DBS Checks

Nov 16, 2022 | DBS

When applying for a basic, standard or enhanced DBS check, you will need supporting documents to verify your identity. Without these documents, your application will not be processed.

So to help you understand what is needed and why, DBS Checks Online has compiled this guide to what is required for a DBS check. Keep reading to know exactly what documents you need to verify your identity for each type of DBS check.

Once you have gotten these documents together, you can apply for your or your entire staff’s DBS check online with us. We are experts at

After you’ve applied for a DBS check, regardless of the type, you will likely be anxious for its completion, as the results of these checks will impact your hiring decisions. Fortunately, when you apply through DBS Checks Online, basic and standard checks generally only take a day to receive, while enhanced checks are usually completed in approximately 5 – 7 days.

However, they can get stuck at stages and take longer to complete, depending on the individual circumstances. So it is valuable to understand the stages of DBS checks and what happens in each. To this end, we have compiled this guide to the stages of DBS check processes, so you can have a complete understanding of the DBS process.

What are the 5 stages of a DBS Check?

Basic, standard and enhanced checks each have slight variations in their stages, and two of the three have only three DBS check stages. That said, these are the full five stages that a check can go through in order to provide you with the required information on an applicant’s transgressions, warnings and spent and unspent convictions:

Stage 1: Application Received

Stage 2: Police National Computer Search

Stage 3: Child & Adult Barring List & List 99 Search (Enhanced only)

Stage 4: Additional Police Checks (Enhanced only)

Stage 5: DBS Certificate Printed & Issued

DBS Checks & Criminal Record Checks

DBS stages explained

If you want to know what happens in each DBS stage, here are the details of each:

Stage 1: Application Received

Application forms are received and validated by the Disclosure and Barring Service. The application is then checked for any errors, omissions or anomalies. If any are found, the application will be automatically rejected and returned to the umbrella body within 24 hours.

However, this does not occur when you apply through DBS Checks Online, as our system checks this first and prevents applications from being submitted with missing or invalid information. 

Stage 2: Police National Computer (PNC) Searched 

Next, data from the application is checked against the Police National Computer (PNC) database for any possible matches. If criminal activity comes up that wasn’t disclosed in the DBS form and which is a possible cause for concern, this information will be highlighted.

If the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are unsure of a match, the applicant will be requested to do a fingerprint test. The police can then verify whether or not the applicant is in fact the person that’s been matched.  

For a basic DBS check, this is the second and final stage before the certificate is issued to the applicant.

Stage 3: Children’s and Adults’ Barred List & List 99 Checks

This is an optional stage that is not required for all roles. It is also only part of an enhanced DBS check and is normally undertaken for individuals who will be in close contact with children or vulnerable adults.

Relevant information in the application will be verified against one or both of the barred lists, depending on the circumstances. If someone is shown to be on one of these lists, the organisation that requested the check will be legally prohibited from hiring the applicant.

Stage 4: Search of Records Held by Local Police Force

Enhanced DBS checks are then sent to the applicant’s local police force, as well as any other relevant agency, for an additional check of their records. This stage often takes the longest and may experience some delays, as police forces may have a backlog of applications that need to be checked or conflicting information may need to be investigated.

Police forces verify the DBS check and ensure that no potential matches have been missed. Then, where applicable, the police check the application information against relevant information that they hold. For example, if the applicant is applying to work with children, they may check the information against their Child Workforce database. If there is no relevant information, the application goes back to the DBS.  

If the police do find information, they will assess its relevance and application to the Workforce. They will then decide if it “ought to be disclosed” on the DBS certificate. This decision is made using an agreed-upon framework.

DBS Checks can be delayed because of unclear, missing, or incorrect information. These problems will show up as a ‘conflict’, and the application will have to be sent back to the DBS for the information to be clarified by the Registered Body or the organisation that submitted the check.

Stage 5: DBS Certificate Printed & Issued

Whether you have applied for a basic, enhanced or standard DBS check, this will be the final stage. All of the relevant disclosed information is compiled and printed out into a physical DBS check certificate. The DBS certificate is then posted to the applicant’s current address, and the results are also sent to their email address. The posting process can take up to 10 working days. The applicant will then show their DBS certificate to the employer (or potential employer) who requested the DBS check.  

Can I track what DBS stage my application is in?

Yes, you can make use of the Disclosure and Barring Service tracking tool. DBS checks can be viewed by the applicant, employer and umbrella body by filling in the relevant information. You will need to supply the application reference number, the applicant’s surname and their date of birth.

If you want to know more about our DBS application service, get in touch with us today. We would be happy to help you with individual or bulk DBS applications.



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