Using a criminal record check

If you apply for certain jobs or voluntary positions, you might need an AccessNI check. You will be told when a basic, standard or enhanced check is necessary. Individuals can apply for basic checks. Only an employer registered with AccessNI can apply for standard and enhanced checks.

When an employer requires an AccessNI check

Employers are responsible for knowing when a job or volunteering role requires an AccessNI check. There are three levels of check:

  • basic
  • standard
  • enhanced

An employer can ask all job applicants to apply for a basic check during the recruitment process.

You must be 16 years of age or older to get a standard check or enhanced check. You must apply for these checks through an AccessNI-registered body.

The only exception is for family members of an applicant, under 16, where the applicant is registering as a childminder or wants to adopt or foster a child.

To read more about different levels of checks and how to apply, go to:

If you’re self employed

You can only apply for a basic check. You cannot get a standard or enhanced check because these checks must be submitted through a registered body.

If you’re a volunteer

You can apply for a basic check. You or the voluntary organisation must pay the fee.

If you're a volunteer in a role needs a standard or enhanced check, in some cases AccessNI will provide the check for free. For more information, go to:

Transgender applicants

AccessNI has a special application process for transgender people who don't want to reveal their previous gender and names to the organisation requiring the disclosure.

If you are transgender and want more information about applying for an AccessNI check, contact the Operations Manager in AccessNI:

Working with children and vulnerable adults

If you apply for a job or volunteer in a role providing services to, or having close and regular supervision of children or vulnerable adults, usually you'll need an enhanced check.

An enhanced check must be applied for through a registered body. The organisation or body you are working for will tell you what to do.

If the position is home based, registered bodies must say this on the application. You have a home based role if you:

  • do some or all of your work with children or adults in your home
  • live with someone who is being, or has been AccessNI-checked because they work with children or do some or all of their work from home

Home based roles include:

  • childminding
  • fostering
  • adoption

Disclosure certificates

When AccessNI searches and checks your criminal history, they provide a disclosure certificate with any criminal records. Unspent convictions appear on a basic disclosure certificate. Cautions, spent and unspent convictions appear on a standard or enhanced certificate.

A clean criminal history is described as “no information found”.

When your disclosure certificate is issued

Only you will receive a copy of the disclosure certificate unless you gave AccessNI permission to send it to your employer. 

For online disclosure applications submitted through registered or responsible bodies, AccessNI will update the case tracking service that you and your employer can see.

When a disclosure certificate is valid 

Your disclosure certificate is valid during the recruitment process for a specific role or job. Information about your criminal record history is accurate on the day the certificate was issued.

You can't transfer a disclosure certificate from one role to another.

If you think there’s information on your certificate that shouldn’t be there or is incorrect, you can raise a dispute with AccessNI

Lost or damaged disclosure certificates

If you lose or damage your disclosure certificate, you can ask AccessNI to reprint it for you, as long it is within 90 days of the certificate being issued. A reprint is free.

If 90 days have passed, you will need a fresh criminal history check for a new disclosure certificate. You or your employer will need to pay for the second check.

Asking police for criminal records

If you're already an employee or you're applying for a job, the employer mustn't ask you to get your criminal history from the police. It is an offence for an employer to do this.

If employers need to check criminal history information, they must use  AccessNI.

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