What Causes A DBS Certificate To Be Delayed?

On average, a DBS certificate is usually cleared within 24-48 hours.

However, a DBS certificate can be subject to delays, which can last for weeks.

From a delay with the Police National Computer (PNC) to a random inspection, we discuss DBS certificates and checks in more detail, and what causes these delays.

How long should a DBS certificate and check take?

This depends on the type of DBS you have applied for and the complexity of the applicant’s background.

For example, if you have applied for DBS enhanced, and the applicant has lived at multiple addresses, the check will take longer.

The average times are:

How long it takes for a DBS check


What is DBS’s process?

As soon as DBS receive an application, a reference number is generated.

The application then goes through ‘stages’. A DBS basic and standard check have three stages, whilst a DBS enhanced check has five (we discuss this in more detail here).

Once all stages are passed, a certificate is issued and distributed accordingly.

Basic DBS Check - EBC Global

What delays a DBS certificate and check?

A DBS check can get delayed at any stage of the process for a variety of reasons.

Delays with basic and standard checks are uncommon, but they do happen.

Delays with enhanced DBS are the most common, and often occurs at ‘Stage 4’, when the application is passed over to local police authorities.

Here are several common reasons why a DBS has been delayed:

The applicant’s details are wrong

If an applicant provides incorrect details, then it will take longer to process a DBS check. Usually, this is because:

  • The applicant’s name has been misspelled
  • There has been a recent name change, which the applicant has failed to disclose
  • The address history is inaccurate
  • The information provided by the applicant is fraudulent

The only way around this is to ensure the information your applicant has provided is cross-checked with the applicant’s ID documents, proof of address, etc.

It gets delayed with the police

A DBS application might be delayed because of local police authorities. This is the most common reason why a DBS certificate and check is delayed. The reasons for it delaying at this stage vary. Oftentimes, it is because:

  • The police have a backlog of applications
  • There are technical issues with the Police National Computer (PNC)
  • Convictions have occurred, which require further investigation
  • Additional evidence is required regarding fines for certain convictions (which, when paid, will not show on the check)

The application is undergoing further checks

A certain percentage of DBS checks undergo random inspection and further checks. This is a quality control measure, to ensure the process meets particular standards.

How long does a DBS check take to arrive from stage 5?

Stage 5 is the final stage of an enhanced DBS check. This is where all the information is collated and printed (the DBS certificate).

It can take up to 10 days for a DBS certificate to arrive after it has been printed.

If the application has been at stage 5 for more than 10 days, the applicant can contact DBS for an update on 03000 200 190.

Can I contact DBS if my applicant’s check is delayed?

No. Due to current GDPR laws, only the applicant can contact DBS regarding the progress of their application.

Applicant’s should call 03000 200 190, along with their DBS reference number, if their application is delayed.

What is DBS’s service level agreement (SLA)?

The service level agreement between DBS and police forces is 60 days from receipt of the application. Do note: police forces aim to complete checks quicker than 60 days, to avoid a backlog of applications.

Criminal record (DBS) checks for employers

Depending on the size of your organisation, you may need to carry out these checks individually or in bulk. EBC Global offer a solution in the form of Employment Check Pro.

Criminal Record Checks on Laptop

Employment Check Pro is a secure, fast, and robust platform that offers instant employment checks.

Employment Check Pro contains 100s of functions which has helped our clients manage their employment background checks. Pro is designed to help companies with specific compliance or referencing background check requirements.

Not only is it secure, but it is also fast and fully GDPR-compliant.

Pro adds value to both the organisation and the candidate. Save time and reduce paperwork; all whilst maintaining compliance. Learn more about Pro here or complete the contact form below to book a demo.


    Further reading

    Employee background checks – what to look out for

    DBS Check – Everything you need to know

    A-Z of Job Roles and the type of DBS check required


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