Where is my DBS check? How to avoid delays, track applications and find support.

November 16th, 2023 by Abbie Tigedi

Update Service from the DBS

Waiting for your DBS certificate to arrive in the post can be a frustrating time. This is especially true when you are required to have a Disclosure before starting work or taking up a volunteering role. This article aims to help you answer the question “Where is my DBS check” and provide tips and advice on how to track and manage your application.

Before we get into our insights, it is important to remember that a Disclosure that is taking a relatively long time to be processed is not a sign that anything will be returned on the certificate.

How long does a DBS check usually take?

The time it takes for a DBS check to be issued can vary and depends on the level of check you require.

On average it takes the DBS to issue certificates in the following times:

  • Basic – under 24 hours
  • Standard – 48 hours
  • Enhanced – 7 days

To understand why your check may be taking longer than the average, it is useful to understand how the Disclosure process works. When a DBS check is submitted it has to pass through up to 5 separate stages, depending on the level of check, before the document is issued.

The 5 stages of obtaining a DBS check are:

Stage 1: Application received and validated

Stage 2: Police National Computer (PNC) searched

Stage 3: Adults’ and Children’s Barred Lists (if requested)

Stage 4: Search of records held by the police (enhanced checks only)

Stage 5: DBS certificate printed

From experience, we find that it tends to be the case that applications take the longest at Stage 4, which is when they are passed to the Local Police Force(s) (LPF).

Why is my DBS stuck at Stage 4?

Your application may be stuck with the local police force for one of the following reasons:

1. Multiple previous addresses

DBS applications are passed to any of the LPF(s) listed within your last 5-years of address history. This means that if you have moved a lot in the last 5 years the application will need to be passed to several different LPFs.

2. Your application has been passed to another LPF

LPFs can pass applications to another LPF if they feel that they might hold information relevant to that application. This can happen more than once again depending on the amount of addresses you have listed.

3. Do you have a common name?

Common names can cause delays because each police force that deals with that application needs to ensure that any data they do or do not share is regarding the correct person.

  • Did you know that David Smith is the most common male name in the UK with over 6,000 adults on the Open register?

Some local police forces have backlogs of applications due to staff shortages or heavy workloads caused by large events needing police attention. It is important to note, that though applications are most likely to get stuck at stage 4, the majority of DBS applications submitted take less than 1 week.

How to avoid delays

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your DBS check is not delayed. When completing your online application form:

  • Ensure you disclose all your names, this includes any middle names and previous names
  • List all previous addresses held in the last 5 years
  • Double-check your spelling

Though there may be unforeseen circumstances that get in the way, following the above steps will give you the best chance of having a speedy experience.

Where is my DBS check? – How to track DBS applications

Once your DBS check has been submitted you can track your applications through the 5 stages by:

1. Using the Disclosure & Barring Service online tracking service:

To do this you will need to enter your form reference number, also known as an ‘E number’ and date of birth here – https://secure.crbonline.gov.uk/enquiry/enquirySearch.do.

  • Applicants can obtain their ‘E number’ by either; logging back into the portal after the documents have been verified and your application submitted to the DBS (Usually within 4 working hours), by contacting one of the DDC team on 0116 2603055 or by obtaining this information from a Requester for your organisation with access to the DDC Client Area.
  • Clients can obtain this number in the Application Overview section under Application Form Received.

2. Chase your application with the DBS:

You can contact the DBS directly to enquire about the progress of your application, using the DBS Customer Service number 03000 200 190.

You can contact the DBS to request that the process be accelerated. The Customer Services Team at the DBS are able to contact the relevant organisation/department holding the application however this is at their discretion, and is generally used in extreme circumstances when an applicant may experience hardship if the Certificate is not issued.

3. Speak to the Redress Team

The DBS also have a specific team that deals with applicants who may be experiencing financial difficulty as a result of delays with their application return. If this relates to your situation, please speak to the Redress Team, at the DBS, if this is the case.

For an update on the status of an application and DDC’s attempts to expedite the return of results, Clients can view their Client Area.

How can DDC help speed up the process? – Escalating an application

At DDC, we chase each application to ensure the DBS are operating within their Service Level Agreements, and there are no delays in them returning the results. As part of the service that we offer, we track the application online to confirm when the application will reach this date and escalate at the earliest opportunity.

When can applications be escalated?

As an Umbrella Body, DDC is limited in our ability to chase or speed up an application and can only begin a formal process of ‘Escalation’ once the application has been at Stage 4 for 60+ days.

Unfortunately, any of the LPFs can raise a query and return the application to the DBS. Once the query has been resolved and the application re-sent to the LPF, their 60-day Service Level Agreement restarts.


Overall, DDC cannot say how long an individual’s Disclosure will take to be issued by the DBS. The DBS give no preference to certain Umbrella Bodies to enable checks to be carried out more quickly. DDC do all they can to ensure the application is going through the process and unfortunately, there is no way to speed it up, other than to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. Information from the DBS shows that DDC’s performance is better than average compared to all Registered Bodies and many Disclosures are issued within 24 hours of the application being submitted. On the other side of this, it is perfectly normal for an application to take 4 weeks to be returned.

Where next

Stay up to date with DBS news, tips and tricks by following us on social media today

  • Posted in Company News
  • Comments Off on Where is my DBS check? How to avoid delays, track applications and find support.