DBS checks for volunteers: Which check do you need?

Requesting DBS checks for volunteers is an important process to understand when you have volunteers in your organisation. Not only will you have to confirm their eligibility for a DBS check, but you’ll also have to ensure they meet the DBS volunteer criteria.

As a result, this blog will talk you through the details you need to confirm to ensure an applicant is eligible for a DBS volunteer check. This blog will also specify how to apply for DBS checks for volunteers.

DBS Checks for Volunteers


DBS checks for volunteers: Are they eligible?

When considering DBS checks for volunteers, their eligibility for a higher level of DBS check needs to be confirmed, just like any other applicant.

This means consideration needs to be given to the nature of their voluntary role, where they will be based and who they will be interacting with.

Typically, those who will be working with children and/or vulnerable adults will be eligible for a higher level of DBS check; the enhanced DBS. This could include volunteers in schools, care homes or hospices, if they are engaging in regulated activity with one of these vulnerable groups.

Guidance on the types of roles classed as ‘regulated activity’ can be found here, for both children and vulnerable adults.

For more general roles, to determine whether volunteers are eligible for a standard or enhanced DBS, you can use the DBS online eligibility tool.

DBS checks for volunteers: Do they meet the criteria?

Another key step in obtaining a DBS check as a volunteer is to ensure that the DBS volunteer criteria is met, thereby making an individual eligible for a volunteer DBS check.

This criteria, set out by the DBS volunteer definition in the Police Act 1997 (criminal records) regulations in 2002, is:

“Any person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative.” This means they must not:

  • benefit directly from the position for which the DBS application is being submitted,
  • receive any payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses),
  • be on a work placement,
  • be on a course that requires them to do this job role,
  • be in a trainee position that will lead to a full-time role/qualification.

If the applicant meets this checklist, then it is likely that they will be eligible for a DBS volunteer check. However, it is important to note that this criteria extends to foster carers, members of their household or back up carers who are also not typically eligible for a DBS volunteer check as stated in the guidance.

DBS checks for volunteers: How to apply for a check

Once you’ve established if an applicant is eligible for a DBS volunteer check, at either enhanced or standard level, you’ll need to apply for this check.

As with all DBS checks at standard or enhanced level, only organisations/ employers can apply – individuals cannot apply for these levels of check themselves.

This means that a DBS volunteer check for an eligible applicant will need to be requested by the organisation they intend to volunteer for.

Organisations looking to request DBS checks for volunteers can register with a registered body to process their applications.


DBS checks for volunteers: A summary


Requesting DBS checks for volunteers involves considerable information to consider to make sure an applicant is eligible, so what are the key points to remember?

  • Confirm an applicant’s eligibility for a standard or enhanced DBS check using the DBS guidance
  • Ensure they meet the DBS volunteer criteria
  • Register with a DBS registered body to request your DBS checks for volunteers


Looking to start requesting DBS checks for your volunteers? Register with CRB Check Online today. It’s free – meaning all you pay for are the disclosures you request!

Have any questions? Get in touch here.