Volunteer DBS Checks: Everything You Need to Know

Volunteers are invaluable for organisations across the country, and many of them wouldn’t be able to do the wonderful work they do without volunteer DBS Checks.

We’re currently in the middle of Volunteers’ Week, and it’s got us thinking about the incredible contribution volunteers make.

We often get asked about how volunteer DBS Checks work, so we thought we’d put together this blog to answer your questions.

volunteer dbs checks

What is Volunteers’ Week?


Before we launch into the nitty gritty of volunteer DBS Checks, let’s talk about Volunteers’ Week.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of volunteering, and an opportunity to say thank you for the fantastic work volunteers do.

The campaign is led by NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations) and takes place from 1-7 June each year. During the week, hundreds of celebrations and events happen all over the country to recognise the essential contribution volunteers make to the UK.


What are volunteer DBS Checks?


Applicants for volunteer DBS Checks go through the same checking process as applicants for non-volunteer DBS Checks.

However, the DBS does not charge for volunteer DBS Checks – although umbrella bodies usually charge an administration fee to process the check (in our case, it’s £22).

Volunteer DBS Checks are only available for Standard and Enhanced Disclosures – there is no volunteer option for Basic DBS Checks.


Who can have volunteer DBS Checks?


There are specific requirements that an applicant must meet to be eligible for a volunteer DBS Check.

Their volunteer role must meet the DBS definition of a volunteer:

‘A 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 other than, or in addition to, a close relative.’

They must not:

  • Benefit financially from the position
  • Receive payment (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)
  • Be in a trainee position, or doing a course that will lead to full-time employment or a qualification
  • Be on a work placement
  • Be a paid foster carer, or a member of a foster carer’s household

To put this into practice:

  • A student nurse on a placement would not qualify for a volunteer DBS Check as their experience is going towards their course
  • An adoptive parent would qualify for a volunteer DBS Check, but a foster carer wouldn’t – this is because one is an unpaid position while the other receives payment
  • An example of a role that would qualify for a volunteer DBS Check would be a parent helper in the school or scouts, as this position is unpaid and benefits a third party


Applying for volunteer DBS Checks: A step-by-step guide


Are you taking on a volunteer? Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying for a volunteer DBS Check:


  • Step 1: Ascertain whether the applicant’s role is eligible for a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check. Use the DBS eligibility guidance to help you.
  • Step 2: If the role is eligible, establish whether it meets the DBS definition of a volunteer (see above).
  • Step 3: If the applicant meets the definition, complete and submit their application in the usual way – ensuring that you select the ‘Volunteer’ status.


Any more questions about volunteer DBS Checks?


Our friendly team is always happy to help with any queries you have, so if you want to know anything else about volunteer DBS Checks then get in touch with us today.

Happy Volunteers’ Week everyone!