DBS checks for volunteers – the guidelines.

By 5th July 2017Volunteers

Do volunteers need a DBS check?

Getting a DBS check for a voluntary position can differ from obtaining a regular check from your employer, the DBS have strict guidelines regarding whether a position is eligible for a volunteer check in addition to the age old question of eligibility for the role that you will be carrying out. If eligible, the cost of DBS checks for volunteers also differs, you can find out more on our pricing page.

Remember, you cannot apply for a DBS check as an individual so, if you meet the DBS’ eligibility criteria, the company or organisation you’re volunteering with will have to make the DBS application on your behalf.

If you’re thinking about volunteering, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before progressing with a DBS check.

Firstly, does the DBS consider you a volunteer?

The DBS’ definition of a volunteer is outlined in the Police Act 1997 (criminal records) Regulations 2002:

“Any 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 and not a close relative.”

The DBS does not consider you as a volunteer if you benefit directly from the position you are being DBS checked for. This could be by:

  • receiving any payment for the role (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses)
  • working towards a work placement associated with the role
  • working towards a course or qualification that requires you to carry out the job role
  • working in a trainee position in a company or organisation which will lead to a full time/permanent, paid role.

Secondly, is the position eligible for a DBS check?

Whether or not you need a DBS check to volunteer will depend on the nature of your volunteer role. As a general rule, roles that involve working closely with children and/or vulnerable adults may be eligible for a DBS check.

Roles that are most likely to be eligible are any roles:

  • listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Standard DBS check)
  • specified in The Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations (Enhanced DBS check)
  • that involve working in ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or vulnerable adults (Enhanced DBS check with a check of the relevant barred list).


You can find more information about the different types of DBS checks on our Disclosure Types page

What do the DBS consider regulated activity?

Regulated activity in relation to children involves:

  • teaching
  • training
  • instructing
  • caring for or supervising
  • providing advice or guidance on well-being
  • driving a vehicle only for children
  • working on a regulated site with opportunity for contact. E.g. schools, children’s homes or childcare premises.

Work is only considered as regulated activity if it is carried out unsupervised. The full definition can be found from the Department of Education.

Regulated activity in relation to vulnerable adults involves:

  • providing health care or social work to an adult
  • providing personal care to an adult who requires it due to their age, illness or disability
  • providing assistance with general household matters to an adult due to their age, illness or disability
  • providing assistance in the conduct of an adult’s own affairs
  • conveying an adult, because of their age, illness or disability, to or from a place where they will be receiving health care, social work or relevant personal care.

The full definition can be found from the Department of Health.

DBS Checks for Volunteers

If you’re still not sure whether you would be eligible to apply for a DBS check for your voluntary role then please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our friendly team will be happy to go through your specific requirements with you.