Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) applications

Some programmes at UCL require the satisfactory completion of a DBS check - formerly known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

This is a UK legal requirement for those in roles which involve regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults.

The DBS check will state any criminal convictions you hold and, if appropriate, whether you are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. We will then consider whether these are compatible with registration on a particular programme, research or voluntary work. Most offences that appear on a DBS disclosure will not prevent you from taking up, or remaining, on your programme, nor from undertaking voluntary or other work. Please find more information in section 3.9 of the academic manual, Criminal Convictions Policy and Procedure.

Read more about the DBS and requirements on GOV.UK

This page covers the following areas:

Who needs to apply for a DBS check

A number of programmes at UCL require a DBS check as part of the admissions process, for example the MBBS and Teacher Training programmes. For all such programmes, applicants will normally be contacted at the offer stage with further information.

Students whose research or placements involve certain positions or regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults may need to hold current DBS checks. You and your supervisor must make clear when you apply for DBS clearance which level of check you need as appropriate to your role.

Read more about DBS eligibility on GOV.UK

UCLU's Voluntary Services Unit will give you details about completing the DBS check if you intend to undertake voluntary work involving children or vulnerable adults as arranged through them. Student Ambassadors and Mentors may also need a DBS check. This will be arranged by the Widening Participation & UK Undergraduate Recruitment Office.

If you already have a disclosure and have signed up to the DBS update service, you may need to provide UCL with details of your current disclosure and give permission for us to check your status with the DBS update service.

You must inform your programme tutor or administrator of any offence committed during your course that requires a DBS disclosure.

DBS checks for international students

If you have been accepted for a programme at UCL which needs confirmation of your clearance to work with a vulnerable group and are resident outside the UK, you may be required to provide evidence of your criminal record status from your home country. 

Read further guidance for overseas applicants on GOV.UK

You will also be required to apply for a DBS disclosure once you have been resident in the UK for a certain period of time. It is essential that you have a passport when you come to the UK as you will need this to provide evidence of your identity. An EU identity card is not sufficient to prove identity for this purpose. This applies whether your research is conducted inside or outside the UK.

How to apply for a DBS disclosure

IMPORTANT UPDATE (June 2020) : Due to COVID-19, please note that the Student Enquiries Centre is currently closed and students are therefore unable to collect DBS forms or complete an in person DBS check. If you require a DBS check urgently, please contact srs-compliance@ucl.ac.uk 

If your programme or research requires a DBS check, your tutor or programme administrator will give you details of the application procedure. You will need to fill out a form that must be checked with the documents required to verify your identity. Your department or the Student Enquiries Centre will provide the necessary forms and further information on how to fill them out.

Read more about the documentation required for your DBS check on GOV.UK 

A disclosure normally takes 4-6 weeks to be processed once it is received by the DBS. If you have lived in a number of places the process could take longer. If you submitted your DBS application via the Student Centre we will email you to confirm once we have checked and dispatched the form to the DBS. Please allow processing time for this.

DBS update service

The DBS no longer provides UCL with a copy of your disclosure. The DBS now offers an online update service which allows you to check your application online and to give permission to future employers or institutions to view your certificate. We strongly advise you to subscribe to this service. If you do so, you may then confirm your DBS certificate number by email to studentstatus@ucl.ac.uk, the Widening Participation & UK Undergraduate Recruitment Office or the Voluntary Services Unit, depending on which department processed your application. With this permission we will check your certificate online.

Find out more about the DBS update service on GOV.UK

In order to join the Update Service you will need to enter your application form reference number so please remember to keep a note of this. You may apply once you have your application form reference number or you can wait and register with your certificate number as soon as you receive your DBS certificate. You must do this within 14 days of the certificate being issued (not within 14 days of receiving it).

If you do not subscribe to the update service you will need to bring your disclosure certificate to the Student Centre, the Widening Participation & UK Undergraduate Recruitment Office or the Voluntary Services Unit as soon as you receive it so we can note the details on your record. We will only note the date, certificate number, the type of disclosure requested and the position for which the disclosure was requested on your record.

Research Passports

IMPORTANT UPDATE (June 2020): Please note due to COVID-19, the research passport process is currently suspended. For more information and updates, please see the Joint Research Office website. 

A research passport may be necessary if your research is to be conducted in an NHS organisation that you are not employed by. Please check with your principal investigator or supervisor whether a research passport is required for your work. 

For queries in relation to the categorisation of a research project and the need for a research passport/letter of access, please contact the Research and Development office of the lead Trust for your research. For queries in relation to research at UCLH, please contact the Administration Team at the UCLH/UCL Joint Research Office. You can visit their website at Joint Research Office, email uclh.jro-communications@nhs.net or call +44(0) 20 3447 5557. 

If you do require a research passport, you will need to download the UCL version of the form. 

You will need to complete the Job Hazard Form including a signature from your supervisor/manager. The completed form should be sent to the Occupational Health team who will then email you to arrange an appointment. Once you have completed your appointment, you should have the necessary health screening/clearance documents for your research passport. 


If your work will require a DBS check, you can either use a DBS check you already have which is dated in the last 6 months, provide evidence that you are signed up to the update service for DBS checks, or you will need to complete a new DBS check. You can complete a DBS at the Student Enquiries Centre by following the instructions in the section How to apply for a DBS Disclosure .

Please note that if you are using a previous certificate or the update service, the type of check must be relevant to the research that you will be doing. This should be checked with your supervisor or department before taking to the Student Enquiries Centre. 

Once you have a DBS certificate or a DBS certificate number (if you are signed up to the update service), you will need to bring this with your research passport form and UCL student ID card to the Student Enquiries Centre. The Student Enquiries Centre can then complete part 8 of Section 5 in the Research Passport form. 

 The completed research passport form with relevant attachments should be taken to the Research & Development office of the NHS organisation where you will conduct most of your research.

This guidance is for students of UCL only. UCL staff who need a research passport should refer to UCL Human Resources.