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DBS Processing Time Questions

DBS Processing Times:

T1.  How long do DBS checks take to process? / What is the current DBS processing time-frame?

There is no set or guaranteed time frame for an Enhanced DBS application to be processed. 

This is due to the individual nature and complexity of each check, and so DBS checks can take different amounts of time for each applicant.

The AVERAGE time to complete online DBS Applications is 8 days.  

It is important to note that this is an average. Many DBS checks will be completed before this, but unfortunately the odd one will take longer.

Whilst the figures for Standard DBS Checks are consistent across all applications, the spread for Enhanced DBS Checks is much wider with the odd one taking up to 6 months.  

We therefore recommend applications are submitted for processing as soon as possible to allow maximum processing time.  

Current Processing times are posted on our home-page.

The most common causes for delays are if the applicant has a criminal record or if the information entered on the DBS  application form is not accurate and does not match the information that was provided on a previous DBS application, or if the information entered on a DBS application form does not match the information the police have on their records.  Seasonal increase in volume, job role queries and eligibility issues may also cause delays.

To ensure a DBS application is processed as quickly as possible it is important that the information provided on the DBS application form is complete, accurate and up to date.  Inaccurate or incomplete information provided on applications WILL cause delays in the processing time frame.  

Please stress this to your applicants and ensure your ID checkers thoroughly check the information provided before any DBS applications are approved and submitted for processing.

We work hard in the background, liaising with the different agencies involved to ensure that your applications are completed as quickly as possible.  

Further information on DBS processing time frames is available on the DBS website.

T2. Is a DBS “Fast-Track” check available?

There is no "Fast Track" service available for the processing of DBS checks; however a "DBS Adult First" check can be requested in exceptional circumstances. 

A “DBS Adult First” check (previously called an ISA Adult First or Pova check) is available in the exceptional circumstance when there is a real danger that your staffing levels will fall below statutory obligations, for example:  Care Roles or for staff in Care Homes.  

A DBS Adult First (previously called an ISA Adult First or PoVa First) check will check if the applicant's name is on the barred list for working with Vulnerable Adults, whilst the DBS Application is being processed.  The result will be emailed to you.


The email result provided by the DBS will have 2 outcomes:


1.  "No match exists for this person on the DBS Adults Barred list" - this means the applicant's name is not on the barred list and they can start work, before their DBS check has been completed, as long as they’re supervised


2.  "Please wait for the DBS Certificate before making a recruitment decision regarding this applicant" - this means the DBS are not able to confirm if the applicant is on the barred list or not - you should wait for the result of the DBS check before this applicant starts work.  This result is not conclusive.  It does not mean the applicant is barred from working with vulnerable adults; in fact in our experience it is very rare for this to be the case.


You need to request a DBS Adult First check when you complete Section Y of the Application Manager section of the DBS application.

Please note, a DBS Adult First check does incur an additional charge, see our Price List.

In our experience, DBS Adult First check results normally come through within 24 hours.Please note that the official DBS time-frames for processing DBS Adult First requests are as follows:  98% of Adult First results within 48 hours and 100% within 72 hours (weekends and bank holidays are excluded).

Please refer to the DBS Adult First website link in the "Website Links" section of our Customer Resources/Links page for more information. 

 T3.  I have an application that is taking a long time to process, what can I do?

If you have a DBS application that is taking a long time to process, it is likely to be at Stage 4: the Police checking stage.

The Police checks are manually undertaken by the police.   Sometimes an application can get delayed here because the police have very stringent verification steps they must fulfill.

We are reliant on the police to complete their checks and a DBS check cannot be issued until they do so. 

We continuously work with the DBS and the police to ensure your DBS applications are processed as quickly as they can be.  We automatically raise escalation requests and complaints with the DBS/Police if an application is taking a particularly long time to process.

However, it is also very important that the applicant (candidate) keeps in touch with the DBS regarding the progress of their application.  They can do this by telephone (03000 200 190) or by email: [email protected].

The applicant can raise a "Hardship" request with the DBS.  The applicant will need to explain to the DBS that they can't work without their certificate and that they are experiencing financial hardship.  The DBS will then raise a “Hardship case”.  

Unfortunately we cannot raise Hardship requests; the DBS will only accept “Hardship” requests from applicants.

Alternatively, the applicant can lodge a complaint to the DBS by email: [email protected] - they will need to quote their full name, DOB, current address and, application reference number (11 digits beginning with the letter E) .

Equally, if you as the employer/recruiting organisation are not satisfied with timeliness of the DBS or the police, you can also raise a complaint directly with the DBS via their Complaints procedure.


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