skip to main content

DBS Checks

Find out about the requirements for DBS checks in England and Wales, and equivalent checks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Last updated: 12 October 2023

What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is a criminal record check, and so they are a safeguarding measure to ensure that those teaching children and vulnerable adults are not barred from doing so. These are processed by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England and Wales. They were formerly known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. 

There are different levels of check, as certain roles in healthcare and childcare will require a more detailed check:

  • Basic
  • Standard
  • Enhanced
  • Enhanced check with barred lists

The type of work that you are doing or planning to do will determine which level of check you need, however the appropriate level for teaching is an Enhanced DBS check, with barred lists for children if teaching children. An adult barred list is only required if you are responsible for the health or personal care of vulnerable adults. 

MU members can obtain Enhanced DBS checks, subject to a fee, as part of their membership benefits.

Apply for an Enhanced DBS check

An Enhanced DBS check for teaching music costs £54, payable Total Screening (previously know as TotalCRB), who process the applications for the MU.

MU members can start an online DBS application by filling out the online form.

Apply for an Enhanced DBS check

If you are transgender and you do not want to reveal details of your previous identity to a potential employer, please first contact the DBS transgender applications team by email to

PVG Scheme in Scotland

Those who work with vulnerable groups on a regular basis will be required to join the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.

Managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland, the scheme makes the decisions about who should be barred from working with vulnerable groups. There is a cost to join the scheme.

AccessNI in Northern Ireland

AccessNI supplies criminal history information (also known as a disclosure) to organisations and individuals upon request, to help them make safer recruitment decisions.

You are required to get an AccessNI check if your work involves close or regular contact with children or vulnerable adults.

There are three levels of check undertaken by AccessNI: basic, standard and enhanced.

FAQs about DBS check

Do I need to get a DBS check?

The MU recommends that all teaching musicians obtain an Enhanced DBS check, as this is the appropriate check level for teaching music.

This level of check cannot be obtained by individuals, so self-employed members who are teaching music should apply through the MU.

This is because even though there is no legal requirement for a private teacher to have one, many roles considered regulated activities (in this case teaching) for a provider on a regulated site request an Enhanced DBS check.

An Enhanced DBS check certificate is a good way to show that you take safeguarding seriously in your teaching role.

As employers are legally obliged to ensure, by way of a DBS check, that any employee working in a regulated activity or specified places with children or vulnerable people have not been barred from doing so, employed members teaching music should have this covered within their employment.

What can happen if I don’t have a DBS check?

Having a DBS check is in the best interests for you and those you work with.

One of the main implications for employers not undertaking and maintaining DBS checks on staff (paid and voluntary) who require it, is the potential for an employer’s staff member, client, service user, or customer to suffer mental or physical harm. 

Consequently, they are liable to face legal action; if an employee is subsequently disciplined and dismissed due to either causing harm or having the potential to do so, failing to refer that individual to the DBS is a criminal offence. 

Employers cannot fully assess an employee’s (paid or voluntary) suitability to work with vulnerable people or children without carrying out a DBS check, and failing to do so puts others’ safety at risk.

The reputational damage experienced by an employer having to discipline and dismiss a member of staff who did not have a DBS check and/or paying a heavy fine for safeguarding contraventions would be very difficult to repair and would have long-term negative implications for that employer’s professional credibility.

How often should I get a DBS check?

It is recommended to register with the DBS Update Service which is an automatic annual renewal of your DBS certificate by card payment. The DBS Update Service is ideal for those who need regular updated checks and is more cost efficient at £13 per year.

Any subsequent convictions, cautions or warnings will be included at the next the DBS check.

To register for the Update Service you will need to do so within 30 days of the issue date on your DBS certificate. Find out more information about the DBS Update Service.

What is the DBS Update Service?

If you regularly need to get a DBS check, we advise that you register for the DBS Update Service.

The DBS Update Service is an annual auto-renewal of your certificate for £13 a year. It is also digital, which means that organisations can view your certificate online (with your permission), although you won’t be re-issued with a paper certificate. The service also reduces the need to apply for multiple certificates.

To register for the DBS Update Service you will need your application reference or certificate number and subscribe here within 30 days of the issue date on your certificate.

For any questions relating to the DBS Update Service please contact DBS directly.

Will the Enhanced DBS check include the Adult Barred List?

No – Enhanced DBS checks with your MU membership will only include the Child Barred List.

This is because the role on the certificate is ‘music teacher’ and only the Child Barred List is necessary for that role. The Adult Barred List is only applicable for those who are administering health or personal care.

If you work in care homes etc, and you need to include vulnerable adults on your check, this will add vulnerable adults to the workforce the check is for, but will not include the Adult Barred List.

How long does a DBS check take?

The DBS give a 2-8 week timeframe, they are not more specific than this.

If the application reaches Stage 4 and goes over a 60 day period please contact Total Screening either by email on or by phone on 0800 310 1057.

What is the process of applying for a Enhanced DBS check?

There are various stages to the application process:

  1. Fill in the form on the MU website to request a DBS application
  2. The MU send Total Screening your request
  3. Total Screening will contact you to start your online application by email – click on the link they send to create your log in to their website
  4. You will be asked to review your details and select the ID you want to verify for your application from a list
  5. You will need to verify your ID using the Post Office document certification service which costs £12.75 for 3 documents
  6. You then send Total Screening the certified copies of the ID by WeTransfer (they will provide you with instructions by email)
  7. Total Screening verify the ID and send you a payment prompt by email
  8. Once you have paid, Total Screening will send your application to DBS
  9. Once your application is sent, the DBS give a timeframe of 2-8 weeks for checks to come through. This is subject to the police department relevant to your application, who have up to 60 days to run checks
  10. On completion you will be posted your certificate to the address given on your application form

What ID do I need to send?

DBS require the following information to be evidenced by ID:

  • Full current name and address
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Nationality
  • National Insurance Number
  • Contact telephone number
  • Address details dating back 5 full years
  • Details of any previous or alternative names
  • Details of the position and organisation for which the application is being made

The government have a list of accepted ID available.

There are 3 routes of ID checking detailed on the government website.

How do I get my ID verified?

DBS applications processed via the MU from 1 October 2022 will require applicants to verify their ID by using the Post Office document certification service which costs £12.75 for 3 documents. Total Screening will guide members through the application process, but members will need to arrange the document certification service with the Post Office branch they choose.

This is because, as of 1 October 2022, DBS will no longer accept digital copies of ID for verification purposes. This was put in place to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic and the application process will again require original documents to be seen and verified.

Once the Post Office have certified the documents you will need to email the copies to Total Screening using WeTransfer. Total Screening will email you instructions on how to do this.

What happens if the check takes longer than 60 days?

If the police have not returned the check in the 60 day time frame, please contact Total Screening so that they can escalate the application:

Can I get my certificate re-issued?

There are strict criteria for a re-issue of a DBS certificate. Find guidance and instructions on how to request a reprint.

Can I use this DBS check for other, non-music teaching, work?

The DBS certificate is for either the role of “music teacher” or “music therapist” and will cite the Musicians’ Union as the organisation.  

For any other role, members will need to seek advice from the relevant associated body or organisation to get a DBS check which covers that work. 

How can I contact DBS?

You can contact DBS customer services by email at or by phone on 0300 0200 190

How can I contact Total Screening?

You can reach Total Screening by email to and by phone on 0800 310 1057.

Have a question that isn’t answered here?

Contact the MU online including your email address for the online application and your question.