How Long Do DBS Checks Take? The Process Explained

Here at CRB Check Online, one of the most common questions we’re asked is: how long do DBS checks take?

How long do DBS checks take?

For many companies, their recruitment decisions may rely on the return of a DBS certificate, so it’s understandable that processing time is a key issue for employers and applicants.

To address that issue, we’ve come up with a guide to the DBS vetting process, so that employers can be clear about the process itself, why applications can take longer to process, and how employers can help to speed applications up.

What’s involved in the DBS vetting process?

The level of check you request for an applicant will affect the vetting process, and also the average time taken for the check to complete.

DBS checks go through up to five stages of vetting before they are complete. The number of vetting stages depends on the level of check.

Standard DBS checks will go through the following vetting stages:

  • Stage 1 – application received and validated
  • Stage 2 – Police National Computer search
  • Stage 3 – certificate printing

Enhanced DBS checks will go through the following stages:

  • Stage 1 – application received and validated
  • Stage 2 – Police National Computer search
  • Stage 3 – children’s and adults’ barred lists searches (if applicable)
  • Stage 4 – local police authority search
  • Stage 5 – certificate printing

What can cause delays in the process?

At CRB Check Online, our average turnaround time for DBS checks is just 48 hours. However, occasionally DBS checks take longer to process. This can be for a number of reasons. Below we’ve outlined some of the common reasons for delays:

Incorrect information

One of the most common reasons for application delays is incorrect information being submitted. This often means that the DBS has to query the information submitted, which will cause delays in the process.



Local police delays

Sometimes the delay can be caused by the local police authorities which enhanced DBS checks are sent to. Some police forces have backlogs on their checks, which can cause delays in the process.
Fortunately, this is not usually an issue, but it’s worth bearing in mind and can help explain why some applications take longer than others.

No clear reason

Sometimes a check can be delayed for no apparent reason. This is likely due to delays in searches, or further investigation that’s needed. But it’s important to note that a delayed application doesn’t necessarily mean there will be anything disclosed on the certificate.

How to speed DBS applications up

Bearing in mind there can be delays with DBS applications, how can you best ensure that your applications won’t take too long to process?

Here are some tips for avoiding delays with your DBS checks:

  • Ensure all the information you submit is correct, and that no information has been missed. Doing this is likely to avoid unnecessary delays and also costly mistakes, as a new certificate may be required if information is subsequently discovered to be incorrect.
  • Use an online provider like CRB Check Online. As we process applications online, there are no postal delays, often meaning applications start vetting the same day.
  • Answer any queries promptly. If you do receive any queries regarding the application, try to resolve them promptly. Once the correct information has been passed to the DBS, the application will often start processing again straight away.

How long do DBS checks take? A summary

So, how long do DBS checks take?

As we’ve seen, the processing time for DBS checks depends on the level of check requested, but also whether anything delays the application.

With our online system your DBS checks are likely to be processed quicker – our average turnaround time for all DBS checks is just 48 hours.

However, unfortunately applications can take longer to process. It’s worth bearing this in mind when deciding when to request a DBS check.

Looking to get started requesting DBS checks? Register for free!

Have any questions? Contact our support team here.