The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks the criminal records background of people who wish to work with children and vulnerable groups.

Please note: This information is for new students. If you are a student returning to course or with a deferred/resit placement, please contact the Programme Administration (PAD) team.


Getting your DBS check

There are three elements to getting your DBS check: - 

  1. complete our online application form. You need to pay the DBS fee at this stage unless you are coming to do certain specific professional Health courses (see ‘Is there a cost for this?’ below);
  2. have your identity verified by providing certain ID documents;
  3. receive your DBS certificate.

If you wish to join the DBS Update Service as well, you can do so after either point 2. or 3: please see below and the 'Update Service' link at the bottom of this page for further information. 

You will be sent instructions in an email on completing our online DBS application. Please bear in mind the following: - 

  • You must apply for your DBS check via the University of Cumbria, not another organisation;
  • Basic level DBS checks (which you can now obtain yourself as an individual) will not be acceptable;
  • Checks obtained via Disclosure Scotland or Access Northern Ireland will not be acceptable, unless we have specifically asked you to obtain this type of check: this applies only to Return to Practice applicants doing their clinical experience in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Having your identity verified

There are different options open to you according to where you live: - 

  • Mainland UK and Northern Ireland: applicants will be asked to go to your nearest participating Post Office. Please be aware that not all Post Office branches offer the service required: for further information please see the guidance in Providing ID Documents. You should take care when searching the Post Office's Branch Finder for one that offers the service required, as there are three similar options. The only compatible one is called 'CRB & ID Verification Service': please see Providing ID Documents for more information.

    COVID-19: Post Offices remain open as they are designated an essential service. You must check the Post Office's Branch Finder before you travel, as advised above. This is especially important under current circumstances as there may be changes to some branches in terms of opening hours or services offered. If you or somone in your household has received the official government letter designating that you/they are in the 'high-risk' category, please see further information here.
  • Isle of Man; Channel Islands; Isles of Scilly and all overseas countries, including Republic of Ireland: applicants will be asked to go to an appropriate professional local to you. Please see Providing ID Documents for more information.

You can view the list of acceptable ID documents here.  

We encourage you to register with the DBS Update Service

  • You can join the Update Service (if you wish) a day or so after you have completed the application form and had your identity documents verified.

Make sure you receive your certificate 

  • Finally - you need to be in receipt of your DBS certificate: please look out for this in the post. It will be posted to you by the DBS; it does not come via or from the University.
  • You can also join the Update Service now, on receipt of your certificate, within a limited time.

What you need to know

Do I need to do a DBS check?

Yes - if this was specified in your offer as a requirement for your course. All applicants to relevant courses must complete a DBS check through the University of Cumbria, unless you have an existing DBS check that meets our requirements and are registered with the Update Service. This applies to overseas as well as UK students-even if you have never lived in the UK.

Relevant courses are those that contain some element of practical experience working with children or other vulnerable groups.

Is there a cost for this?

Yes – unless you are doing a professional Health course that used to be eligible for NHS-funding. The University of Cumbria DBS fee for 2021/22 starters is £60 and you can pay this online at the time of submitting your application. 

Applicants to a professional Health course that used to be eligible for NHS-funding do not need to pay: please note that BSc Paramedic ScienceMSc Physiotherapy and MSc Midwifery were never NHS-funded, so applicants to these Health programmes will be liable for the DBS fee. 

To avoid confusion, please also be aware that Social Work is not a professional Health course. 

I have (or think I may have) a criminal record: what do I do?

You need to submit a Criminal Record Self Disclosure Form now if this applies to you and you have not sent it in already. For more information on this and the form itself, please refer to Self-disclosure of criminal record.

You also need to do your online DBS application and have your ID verified as soon as possible, to allow maximum time for our clearance procedure. You cannot be DBS-cleared (and, therefore, complete this Admissions check requirement) until we have seen your DBS certificate at the end of the process, so it is important that you submit your online DBS application as early as possible. 

Is there a time frame to do the DBS application?

Yes - you must complete the online application and have your ID documents verified as soon as possible, once you receive the email to do so. Remember that the order in which you do these two things will be reversed if you live in mainland UK but cannot get to a participating Post Office to have your ID verified. The DBS process can take several months to be completed.

If the result is not through by the time you start course, you will be able to register, but your registration status will be affected by any outstanding admissions conditions, and this will prevent release of your student loan. You may also not be able to start placement if your DBS result is outstanding. 

What happens after I've submitted the application?

Once you have submitted the online DBS application and had your ID checked we send the DBS application electronically to the DBS for processing–this should be completed within a couple of weeks, but can take longer in the event of any discrepancies in information or queries. The process is not complete until the DBS has issued your certificate. For those applicants with a criminal record there is also a clearance process that we need to complete.

If there are any queries or problems with your application, we or the DBS will contact you. If this happens you need to respond promptly, because outstanding queries halt the DBS process.

Once your certificate is issued you need to look after it carefully: if you lose it, it cannot be replaced nor a copy obtained, from us or from the DBS. You also need to bring it with you to university: some placements ask to see it or will ask for the reference number on it. You do not need to show your copy of the DBS certificate to the University (unless you have a criminal record): wereceive an electronic notification of the check from the DBS.

I’m due to move house or change my name: can I change these details with the DBS once my application is in progress?

No, the DBS can no longer amend an applicant’s personal information on the application form once it has been submitted. 

The sections of the application form affected by this change will be: your current and previous names, your current address and your five-year address history. 

DBS check applications submitted with omitted or incorrect information will be withdrawn, and a new application will need to be submitted and you will have to pay the DBS fee.   

Errors in an application 

The DBS will not be able to correct your information if an error was made in the original application or if a name was omitted (for instance, a middle name or a previous name). In this case, your application would be withdrawn, and you would need to submit a new one via the University of Cumbria with the correct information. Please contact the DBS Team if this is the case. 



I am a non-UK applicant, or a UK applicant living or recently living abroad

‘Non-UK’ includes Republic of Ireland and other EU countries. Applicants in any of the above groups will probably need to obtain an overseas police check of some kind, as well as applying for your DBS check. Please refer to Overseas Criminal Records Checks for further information.

Read the DBS policy

For more information about our DBS regulations and procedures, please see the Admissions Policy on Disclosure of Criminal Background for Students in Relation to Work with Children and Vulnerable Groups.

Download the DBS policy (PDF)

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