How long do DBS checks take? The timescales explained

How long does a DBS check take? What affects the timescales? And how can you as an employer speed up the application process and reduce waiting time?

If you’ve ever needed the answers to these DBS checking process questions, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog we will explore some of the key aspects of the application process which will potentially affect how long a DBS check will take. We will also cover some tips for speeding up your DBS check timescale.

how long do DBS checks take


Paper vs. Online Applications


One of the key decisions which will likely affect how long a DBS check takes is the method which is used to apply for one. By this we mean whether it is requested online or via a paper form.

DBS check applications are increasingly moving online, but a significant percentage of applications are still submitted by paper. In the year up until March 2018 this figure was still 16.7% of all DBS applications.

Paper forms, by their nature, tend to have a longer waiting time as they take longer to process. 

This is largely the result of postal delays, which mean an application takes longer to start vetting compared to if it was submitted online. Furthermore, if there are any queries with the application before countersigning then the form would have to be returned by post to correct it, and thus delaying the process further.

The role of the registered body in processing applications


Registered umbrella bodies of the DBS who process the applications also play a crucial role in how long a DBS check will take. All DBS checks need to be countersigned, which means they are looked at by a registered countersignatory to ensure the correct check is being requested.

Signing up with a registered body who processes applications online, as well as countersigns checks accurately and quickly, can help to speed up the DBS check process. Here at CRBS we aim to countersign or query applications within an hour of receiving them during normal business hours.


Avoiding errors on the application form


A final key step which can help to make sure DBS Check processing times are kept to a minimum is to avoid errors on the application form. Whilst checks are made by a countersignatory to ensure the eligibility of an application, applicants and employers should make sure all the personal details included are accurate and complete.

Common errors which can delay DBS processing times and prompt queries include missing middle names, incorrect address history, and not declaring previous names.

Checking and double checking an application before submission can help to avoid delays to the processing time later on.


How long do DBS checks take? A Summary


As we have seen there are a number of factors which can affect DBS processing time. This also means that it is difficult to give an exact answer to how long DBS checks take.

Ensuring you are following the tips for speeding up applications, such as requesting them online and checking the information is accurate, can help to avoid delays.

So, let’s recap the key tips to avoid unnecessary delays and reduce DBS Check waiting time.

  • Try to request DBS applications online. These will start processing quicker than when requesting them via paper.
  • Choose a DBS registered umbrella body who will countersign/query applications quickly.
  • Check and double check application forms to ensure all the information is correct and complete.


At the CRBS, using our online platform, our average turnaround time for DBS enhanced and standard checks is just 48 hours on average once they’ve been submitted for processing. If you’d like to get started requesting checks you can register today!

We hope our blog has answered your questions. If you’d like any more information, check out the DBS’ guidance for employers, or get in contact with us – we’re always happy to help.