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Please see the information below to help you complete your application.

Read these guidance notes carefully. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will return all incorrectly completed application forms and your Disclosure will be significantly delayed.

A condition of your offer of a place at Cambridge or commencing graduate research is subject to receipt of a satisfactory DBS check.

Note that the Student Registry should only be contacted with questions about the university’s administration of DBS applications. Questions about Disclosure and Barring Service policy and complex enquiries should be made directly to the DBS.

Disclosure and Barring Service

customerservices@dbs.gsi.gov.uk

03000 200 190

Student Registry

dbsstudents@admin.cam.ac.uk

01223 766302

Q. What is a Disclosure?

As a result of Government legislation all Higher Education Institutions, who offer courses where students may come into regular contact with children or adults, are required to ensure that these students obtain Disclosure via the Disclosure and Barring Service process. A Disclosure is an official document issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service providing details of a person's conviction record, including cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer.

For further information please see the Applicant's Guide to the DBS's Disclosure Service.

Q. How do I apply for a Disclosure?

If you require a Disclosure you will receive an email from Agenda, the company who carry out the DBS check on behalf of the University. The email will advise applicants what they need to do to complete their DBS application online. 

Overseas applicants may not have to complete a DBS application. Please read the guidance for overseas students and living abroad below for further guidance. 

Q. What additional documentation do I need to complete the application online?

 

  • Documentation to confirm your identity. You will need to upload this onto your online DBS application. Please see the DBS web page for guidance  on acceptable ID.
  • Payment for the DBS check needs to be made via the Online Store before a check can take place.

Applicants who have spent a period of six months or more abroad in the last five years may also need to obtain:

  • A completed Self-Declaration form. In signing the declaration, you are asked to disclose the same level of criminal record as would be disclosed under an Enhanced DBS Disclosure. The Student Registry will send you this form.
  • Original documentation from the police authority (or other relevant authority) in the country which you were resident detailing the status of your criminal record and an official translation if the original document is not written in English. In many countries, this document is called 'A Certificate of No Criminal Conviction', 'A Certificate of Good Conduct' or 'A Police Clearance Certificate'.

If you think you require an overseas check but have not received information, and the Self-Declaration form from the Student Registry, please send your name and details of where you have resided for and how long, to: dbsstudents@cam.ac.uk

You are advised to send these documents through a secure route. It is in your interest to disclose any information about criminal records at an early stage in the application process.

If you are unsure about where to obtain your documents, please try the following:

  • Contact the embassy or the consulate general in the country concerned or in the United Kingdom. Details for embassies in the United Kingdom can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth website
  • Look on the internet using a word search such as 'Criminal background check in country of residence'. Please note that original documents must be sent; we cannot accept print outs from websites.

Please note:

Sometimes official bodies in certain countries may require a letter from the University, stating why it is necessary for you to obtain your criminal record certificate. If you find that this is the case, please contact the Student Registry. They will arrange for a letter to be written and sent to your preferred address. If the document you obtain is not written in English, the applicant must provide a certified translation.

It is very unusual for an applicant to find it impossible to obtain their overseas documentation, unless there are very exceptional circumstances, for instance, if you are a refugee. In such circumstances, or if you are finding it difficult to obtain documents for whatever reason, please contact the Student Registry as they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate action to take.

Q. What if I am an overseas student and have never lived within the UK?

If you have never lived in the UK, you do not need to apply for a DBS check because the DBS only has access to information regarding time spent in the UK.

Please provide:

  • A completed Self-Declaration form. In signing the declaration, you are asked to disclose the same level of criminal record as would be disclosed under an Enhanced DBS Disclosure.
  • Original documentation from the police authority (or other relevant authority) in your country of residence detailing the status of your criminal record and an official translation if the original document is not written in English. In many countries, this document is called 'A Certificate of No Criminal Conviction', 'A Certificate of Good Conduct' or 'A Police Clearance Certificate'.

If you think you require an overseas check but have not received information, and the Self-Declaration form from the Student Registry, please send your name and details of where you have resided for how long, to dbsstudents@cam.ac.uk

If you are unsure about where to obtain your documents, please try the following:

  • Contact the embassy or the consulate general in the country concerned or in the United Kingdom. Details for embassies in the United Kingdom can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth website
  • Look on the internet using a word search such as 'Criminal background check in country of residence'. Please note that original documents must be sent; we cannot accept print outs from websites.

Please note:

Sometimes official bodies in certain countries may require a letter from the University, stating why it is necessary for you to obtain your criminal record certificate. If you find that this is the case, please contact the Student Registry. They will arrange for a letter to be written and sent to your preferred address.

If the document you obtain is not written in English, the applicant must provide a certified translation.

It is very unusual for an applicant to find it impossible to obtain their overseas documentation, unless there are very exceptional circumstances, for instance, if you are a refugee. In such circumstances, or if you are finding it difficult to obtain documents for whatever reason, please contact Student Registry as they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate action to take.

Q. Which identity documents will I need to provide?

Valid types of ID are listed here.

Q. How do I pay?

The fee with effect from 1st October 2019 for seeking an Enhanced Disclosure is £52.55 and £35.55 for a Standard Disclosure. Please pay online through the University of Cambridge Online Store. Please do not pay by cheque. Applications will not be processed until proof of payment is received.

Q. What happens when I have received notification that my check has been completed?

The Student Registry will also receive confirmation when your check has been completed.  If the check is clear the Student Registry will inform your department that your check is now completed and there will be no requirement for you to show the original certificate.  If there is a positive check you will be required to take the original certificate to the Student Registry for them to review it and liaise with the relevant department.

Q. How long will the DBS check take?

Processing by the DBS can take on average four to six weeks. However during their peak period, between June and September, it can take longer. Therefore, please complete your DBS application online as soon as possible to begin this process. Once you obtain documentation from your country of residence, please forward the original (with your form reference number clearly marked) to complete your application.

Q. What happens once I have received my DBS certificate?

It is a requirement of the University of Cambridge to view your original Certificate to ascertain that it does not contain information that would affect your admission to the University. Once you have received your certificate you must post it or bring it to the Student Registry. The Student Registry will make a copy of your Certificate and then return the original to you; the copy will be kept on file for one month before being destroyed.

The Disclosure and Barring Check will remain an unsatisfied condition of your offer of admission until the Student Registry has checked the status of your Disclosure by viewing your original certificate. It is a requirement of the University of Cambridge to view your Certificate to ascertain that it does not contain information that would affect your admission to the University.

NOTE: We cannot provide proof of clearance. If you lose your certificate you will have to apply again. If your certificate has been lost in the mail you can apply for the reprint service within 90 days of your certificate being issued (the date of issue can be obtained using the tracking service). Please note that accidental loss or destruction of your certificate after its receipt is not an acceptable reason to accept a reprint request according to the DBS website. Please visit the reprint service guide for more information.

Subscribe to the DBS Update Service

The Update Service costs £13.00 per year. It is an online service where you can host the results of your Disclosure Certificate and the DBS will automatically keep your results updated. If you have a subscription, you will not need to apply for another DBS check as long as your existing certificate remains current.

When you subscribe to the Update Service third parties can, with your permission, view the status of your Disclosure Certificate. It is a quick and easy way to share the results of your check with potential employers in future.

Further information about the Update Service is available here. If you choose to subscribe to the Update Service, you must do so within 14 days of receiving your Disclosure Certificate.

Q. What if I already have a Disclosure?

You will need a new DBS check authorised by the University of Cambridge unless you have 1) previously applied for and received a DBS certificate at the same level and registered for the same workforce(s) required by your conditional offer and 2) signed up for the DBS Update Service. Once a check is requested we will need to view your original certificate and carry out an online check directly with the DBS service.

Q. Will I need a further DBS check for entry to the clinical course? **Medicine and Veterinary Medicine applicants only**

If you have progressed directly from the pre-clinical course (in Cambridge or from elsewhere in the case of medical students), no separate DBS screening is required for entry to the clinical course. Please retain your copy for the duration of your course.

However, if you take a gap year between pre-clinical and clinical courses, you will then be required to apply for a new DBS Enhanced Disclosure.

Cambridge pre-clinical students who disregard terms for up to a year during the first three years are not required to undergo another DBS check. However, if you disregard terms for longer periods, you will be required to undergo a further check.

Cambridge pre-clinical students who disregard terms for up to a year during the first three years are not required to undergo another DBS check. However, if you disregard terms for longer periods, you will be required to undergo a further check.

 

Q. What happens if I have a positive disclosure?

All offers of a place at the University of Cambridge will be conditional on satisfactory DBS or equivalent screening. If your Disclosure reveals any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, final warnings or other positive information, it will be referred to the relevant University panel for consideration. The panel is responsible for deciding whether or not you should be allowed to enter onto your course.

The University takes any criminal record seriously and will consider each case individually.

In deciding whether to permit you to enter onto the course, the panel will consider the following:

  • The seriousness of the offence and its potential relevance to your course
  • The length of time since the offence occurred
  • Any relevant information offered by the applicant about the circumstances which led to the offence being committed
  • Whether the offence was a one-off, or part of a history of offending
  • The degree of remorse, or otherwise, expressed by the applicant and their motivation to change
  • The DBS have introduced certain safeguards to ensure that conviction information is not misused and that ex-offenders are not treated unfairly.

However, applicants are given the opportunity to disclose information about past offences when they submit both their UCAS application and their DBS application. The University will not look favourably on prospective students who have not declared this information from the outset.

Q. How will the Disclosure information be kept?

All information contained within Disclosures will be treated confidentially by appropriate University and College Officers. All Disclosures information are stored securely through Agenda's online portal.

If the relevant University panel decides to prevent you from entering onto your chosen course, the University will not retain the Disclosure or keep any record of the information contained within it. If you are admitted onto your chosen course, the University will retain a record of your Disclosure number, the date of issue, whether it was positive or negative and any action that may have been taken.

Q. What if I do not agree with my Disclosure?

A dispute occurs when an applicant:

  • Claims that information on the Disclosure received is incorrect or does not belong to them.
  • States that some of the personal information printed on the Disclosure received is incorrect.

Applicants only have three months from the date of issue to dispute the contents of a Disclosure.

If either of the above applies to you, you should notify the Student Registry immediately. The Student Registry will then be able to advise you on the appropriate steps to take to resolve the dispute.

Q. What if I am not yet 18?

The University requires all offer holders to obtain satisfactory Disclosure even if they are not yet 18. The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is deemed to be 10 years old, meaning that an individual can acquire a criminal record at any point once they reach this age.

Q. What happens if I lose my DBS certificate?

We are not able to provide proof of DBS clearance and you would be required to apply again if you have not signed up to the update service.

If your certificate has been lost in the mail you can apply for the reprint service within 90 days of your certificate being issued (the date of issue can be obtained using the tracking service). Please note that accidental loss or destruction of your certificate after its receipt is not an acceptable reason to accept a reprint request according to the DBS website. Please visit the reprint service guide for more information.