Frequently Asked Questions

Background information

Security Watchdog is the EMEA and international industry leader and subject matter expert in all areas of employment screening services. They have been contracted by Ofsted to undertake the DBS application part of the registration process. They were previously one of three suppliers contracted to the Department for Education to undertake subsidised DBS checks on staff members working within childcare settings and have lots of experience within the sector.

An enhanced DBS check involves a check of an applicant's criminal record against the Police National Computer (PNC) for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, plus any information held locally by police forces that’s considered relevant to the child workforce and post applied for. This information is disclosed at the discretion of a Chief Police Officer.

Ofsted are legally required to carry out DBS checks for particular individuals working with children with in regulated childcare and social care provision.


Applicants are required to pay the full cost of a DBS check including an administration charge. The total cost can vary depending on how an applicant applies and how they get their ID checked. The table below outlines the various costs and options. An applicant must choose an option for each section 1, 2 and 3. A typical applicant applying online and checking their ID via a responsible person will be charged £46.10 (£38 + £6.80 + £1.30)


Item Description



DBS Enhanced Disclosure fee



Online application administration fee



Paper/postal application administration fee



ID check completed by responsible person (click here for details)



ID check completed at the post office


*specific applicants who meet the definition of a volunteer do not pay a DBS Enhanced Disclosure fee. Please refer to further guidance within this FAQ.

Please note applicants who cannot provide sufficient Group 1 ID documentation will be required to go through an additional external verification check. This costs an additional £4.80.

If an applicant meets the definition of a volunteer as outlined below, their DBS application will not incur a £38 fee from the DBS. They will, however, incur the administration fee charged by Security Watchdog. This will vary depending on how an applicant applies and how they have their ID checked.

A typical volunteer applicant applying online and checking their ID via a responsible person will be charged £8.10 (£6.80 + £1.30)

To be considered a volunteer and eligible for a free DBS check an applicant must be volunteering to undertake work and not receive payment or reward for their role. An applicant who receives, or expects to receive, any of the following as part of the role they are applying for would not be considered a volunteer and must pay the full fee for their DBS check:

  • remuneration such as a wage, salary or other monetary payment (excluding out of pocket expenses)
  • a benefit of some kind, including discounted childcare costs for their own child who attends the childcare provision
  • credit towards a qualification or working at the setting as part of a placement

Details of the DBS' stance on this are available here.

If you are applying with Ofsted for any one of the following roles, you will not be eligible to be considered as a volunteer:

  • Childminder
  • Living at childminding premises
  • Sole Proprietor
  • Registered Manager
  • Lives and works with childminder
  • Home-childcarer (Nanny)
  • Assistant working at childminding premises

Marking your application incorrectly as a volunteer will result in your DBS application being withdrawn. This will mean any fee already paid is forfeited and you will be asked to re-apply, this will include paying another administration fee and will result in delays to your application.

It is a criminal offence to knowingly make a false statement when applying for a DBS check. Security Watchdog and Ofsted closely scrutinises each DBS application before it is processed by the DBS. If an applicant falsely applies as a volunteer as part of their DBS check the full application fee will be recovered including any further administration costs. This may delay and/or adversely affect an application with Ofsted.

For the purposes of their DBS check an applicant would not be considered a volunteer if they have more than one role within an organisation and are paid for either of those roles. For example a paid nursery worker may also volunteer to be part of the committee that has overarching legal responsibility for the setting. In such instances they are not entitled to a discounted DBS check.

No. As a household member at childminding or childcare on domestic premises you will not be working for the benefit of others and therefore do not meet the definition of a volunteer. Ofsted are legally required to check all individuals living on childcare premises.

No. Although some assistants may not be directly paid for the work they do within a childminding setting, they will be contributing to the childminding service being offered. In turn this will mean the childminders can offer an enhanced service by caring for more children and/or offering more flexible care. As there is a monetary or reputational benefit to the childminder in these circumstances an assistant is not entitled to a discounted DBS check.

General information

The guidance outlining which 'Security Watchdog Organisation Reference' you require can be found on Step Two of this website

Yes. An applicant must choose someone, in line with our guidance, who can verify their ID and fill in the ID verification form.

If applicants' are struggling to find someone suitable to check their ID, we also offer a Post Office checking service as an alternative. However, making an application in this way will incur an additional fee and is more expensive. This is because the Post Office charges their own fee for this service.

Once your application has been received by the DBS you should receive your enhanced certificate in the post within 6 weeks. Please note this is an indicative timescale. If you do not receive your certificate within 6 weeks, please contact the DBS on 03000 200 190 selecting option 2.

If you have not done so already, you must ensure you register for the DBS Update Service when you receive your enhanced disclosure. Depending on the outcome of the DBS check Ofsted may contact the applicant and request an original copy of the enhanced certificate to be sent to them. Applicants must not send original certificates to Ofsted unless they have been specifically advised to do so.

DBS Update service

Ofsted strongly recommend that you sign up for the DBS Update Service for an annual fee of £13, or free for volunteers. Your DBS certificate will be kept up-to-date so that you can take it with you from role to role within the same workforce. As a result individuals may no longer have to apply for a new DBS check every time they apply for a job or change roles. If an individual has subscribed to the Update Service their employer will be able to go online, with the individual’s consent, and carry out a free, instant check to find out if the information released on the DBS certificate is current and up to date.

An individual registers for the Update Service via the link

Registration lasts for 1 year and costs £13 per year (payable by debit or credit card only). There’s no charge if you’re a volunteer.

An individual must register for the Update Service within 30 days of the issue date on their DBS Certificate.

The status will change depending on the type of DBS check if:

  • any new convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings are recorded; or
  • any amendment or change to a current conviction, caution, warning or reprimand
  • if the individual becomes barred for that list(s) checked on the Enhanced Certificate