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Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks Guidance for Applicants

Applicant guidance for completing a DBS check through CIW.

Published: 25 July 2023
Last updated:

A PDF download of this document will be available soon.



The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was established in 2012 and replaced the previous Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). It provides a service that combines both criminal record checks and a list of ‘barred’ individuals.

Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) can process DBS checks for individuals who are required to register with us (or are otherwise linked to a registered service) and where they are either unable to obtain their own checks or are legally prevented from doing so.  

All DBS applications via CIW are processed by a third party provider (Vibrant Nation). For the most part, this will make the application process a largely digital experience for all DBS applicants and reduce the complexity and amount of data/information we are required to manage.  

Eligibility checks

CIW must undertake an eligibility check for each applicant at the start of the DBS process. Only people who are eligible for a DBS check can be referred to the third party provider’s online portal to complete an application.

To meet the eligibility criteria for a DBS check with CIW you must:

  • Be aged 16 years and over;
  • Work or be involved in a role or activity working directly with, or have potential access to, children and/or vulnerable adults;
  • Work or be involved in a prescribed work force area for children and/or adults; and  
  • Be eligible for an Enhanced (with Barred List) DBS check (External link).
  • Roles eligible for a DBS check with CIW: Registered Person (RP), Responsible Individual (RI), ‘Lives At’ (a person who lives at the service address aged 16+ e.g. a childminder’s household members), Childminding assistants

If you have not already done so, you must firstly contact CIW on 0300 7900 126 selecting option 3 and request a DBS check with us. Once we have confirmed your eligibility for a check and informed our third party provider, Vibrant Nation,  of this, you will be sent by separate e-mail a link to their online portal; a unique reference number (URN) and user name. You should use these to log into Vibrant Nations online system (please use the link provided in the e-mail) to complete your online DBS application form. 

DBS renewals

If you need to renew your current DBS certificate with us we recommend that you do not apply until a month prior to the renewal date of your application. Our online process is quick and most checks are completed within 10 days. They may sometimes take longer where there is information contained on the certificate and/or if you have lived in a large metropolitan area.

You do not have to use the Vibrant Nation online system and may obtain a DBS check independently if you can. A DBS certificate obtained independently must be:

  • An Enhanced with Barred List check;
  • For the correct workforce area; and
  • Presented (in person or via post) to CIW within three months of the issue date.
  • Be registered with the DBS update service and have a current subscription. The certificate would need to be Enhanced for the correct workforce and CIW will require permission and details from the certificate holder to view the DBS check. 

Our third party provider - Vibrant Nation

All CIW DBS checks will be carried out by our third-party provider (Vibrant Nation). Most of the process will be carried out via their online system with your identity verification check being carried out at the Post Office. This will be easier and quicker for you.

CIW will be involved in just two important steps:

  • Eligibility; and
  • Considering ‘positive’ information contained on DBS certificates

Once we have confirmed your eligibility you will be sent an e-mail and login details (a user name and unique reference number) from our third-party provider. You will need to enter these details in the provider’s login page. Once accepted you will be directed to the online application portal. The ‘landing’ page will show and require the following information:  

Company name: Care Inspectorate Wales
Username:   XXXXXX
Password (or ref number?):  XXXXXX 

Once you have successfully logged into the site, our third-party provider will electronically manage the application form process. The system has been designed to be sensitive to the input of incorrect, incompatible or conflicting information and where this is the case, you will be asked to amend. 

Payment of fees

Payment of the DBS fee and an administration charge is required of all applicants.  

Payment will be taken by the third-party provider via their online portal during the application process. You can make your payment via PayPal or a debit or credit card (except American Express); cash or cheque payments cannot be made. All fees are non-refundable.

This is a secure system and your payment details will not be stored or used for other purposes. 

Identity verification (IDV) checks with the Post Office

Once you have correctly entered your details you will be asked to select what identity documents you will be using to confirm your identity. Once you have selected the documents, and input the required information, the system will generate a QR code.   

This QR code lets the Post Office know that you need an identity check, and what documents you will be taking with you. You must take the QR code to the Post Office along with the identity documents you selected on your application form, or they will not be able to do your identity check. If you do not this may delay your DBS application and possibly delay your application to register or DBS renewal.  

A Post Office branch finder has been built into the online application form, which allows you to search for a Post Office located close to where you live that offers the identity checking service.    

There is a £15 fee payable to the Post Office once you have completed your identity check.  

Once the Post Office has confirmed your identity they will confirm with the third-party provider that your IDV has been successful. Our third-party provider will then counter-sign your online application and forward this to DBS for processing. 

The DBS Update Service

CIW recommend that all applicants take the opportunity to subscribe to the DBS Update Service - preferably during the online application process. The service is available for an annual fee and your subscription must be renewed each year if you want to maintain the benefits of the service. The benefits of the service include:

  • An online service that is quick and convenient for you to use;  
  • The ability to manage your own DBS check for employment and volunteering purposes;
  • Not having to renew your certificate three yearly - as long as you maintain your DBS Update Service subscription and no new information is revealed during your status check;  
  • Saving you the time and expense of having to travel to a CIW office to renew your DBS certificate; and
  • CIW can now accept the assurance of the DBS Update Service (for almost all applicants); even if (as in most cases) your original DBS certificate was not countersigned by Welsh Ministers.  

If you choose to subscribe to the DBS Update Service, our third-party provider will let us know that you have done so.  

The DBS Update Service – independent route

You do not have to use our third-party provider to subscribe to the DBS Update Service. You may also subscribe independently and directly with DBS using your new certificate.   

Undertaking status checks of your online certificate

When you subscribe you will be asked to confirm your agreement to CIW carrying out periodic status checks of your online certificate. This is to confirm that the status of your certificate has not changed since it was first uploaded.

In most cases there will be no change to a certificate’s status – this means that the original certificate contains no information – or no new information.

In a small number of cases, however, the status check will indicate that new information has been received. The check will not reveal to us the nature of the new information. To view this we will need to contact you and inform you that your online status has changed. You will be required to complete a new DBS application. It is likely that we will need to discuss this further with you (another advantage of the DBS Update Service is that you will no longer have to do this where no new information is revealed).

We will always take a proportionate view of any such information and deal with each example on a case by case basis.  

Checking DBS certificates

Whilst you are not required to subscribe to the DBS Update Service, our third-party provider will still alert us to say that your DBS check has been successfully completed. Again, you will be asked to confirm your agreement to this.

In most cases, this alert will simply signify that your completed check has been returned and contains no information – or no new information.  

Where, however, your check does contain new (‘positive’) information we will be advised of this and will: 

  • Require sight of your original certificate;  
  • Consider the contents of the certificate; and  
  • Return the certificate to you by the return of post where possible.

If the information contained within your certificate is already known to us and has been previously considered, we do not need to take any further action. However, if the information is new we will need to discuss this further with you.

Please note: Persons who are registered with us, or are otherwise the subject of a DBS certificate in relation to a registered service, are legally required to inform us of any conviction or police caution. Failure to do so may indicate a regulatory failure and this is likely to be discussed further with you.  

Information Handling

We process personal and/or sensitive information fairly and lawfully, and will only ask for information where it is necessary for us to carry out our role. For more information about how we process personal data please see our Privacy Notice.  

Further information

More information is available from the following links:

Our third party provider also offers an assisted digital bilingual telephone helpline on 02920 334 995.