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The 5 levels of Security Clearance

February 17, 2017 | By | 8 Comments

We wish you a warm welcome back to our blog and hope you have had a good Valentine’s day. This week we are following on from our contract help posts with a look into the types of Security Clearances and how to obtain them. All of the roles that we advertise require at least the most basic level of clearance so it may be worth getting cleared if you are looking at roles through us. There are 5 levels of clearance that we deal with and you can see the details of them below:

DBS/Disclosure Scotland – This is a basic security check that’s main use is to disclose any unspent convictions to an employer during the application process. If you are working in England or Wales, you will need to have a ‘DBS’, if you are working in Scotland, you would need a ‘Disclosure Scotland’. Applying for the basic DBS/Disclosure Scotland costs £25.00 (at time of writing). This is a clearance that would be applied for by yourself through their websites:

DBS – or

Disclosure Scotland –

We highly recommend that if you are looking for a contract through the CL1 framework that you secure this clearance first. This will ensure there are no delays with the on-boarding process as it can take up to 10 working days for the DBS/Disclosure Scotland to come through after application. From date of obtaining the clearance it will last for one year for use through the CL1 framework, so can be used for any roles applied for, in the CL1 Framework, for that period.

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) – BPSS is not a security clearance but the minimum background screening check used for positions that would be working with or for Government Departments. Similar to DBS/Disclosure Scotland it will check for any unspent convictions, though is slightly more expansive. The BPSS will run through four main areas; an Identity check, Nationality and Immigration Status, Employment History and a Criminal Record check for unspent convictions.

This is not something that will need to be applied for, as this is something that EGB will carry out during the onboarding process.

Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC) – A CTC is used to check if a person potentially has connections to Terrorists organisations or may be vulnerable to pressure from such organisations.  This is usually used in roles that require access to Sensitive information, public figures or governmental and commercial establishments that are considered vulnerable to Terrorist organisations. CTC clearance is obtained through sponsorship from the employer and will be carried out before access to site is granted.

The CTC clearance process includes:

  • BPSS clearance
  • Completion of a CTC questionnaire
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • Checks against UK criminal records
  • Security Service Check

CTC clearance generally requires a minimum of 3 years’ residence in the UK as well as passing all the previous checks. Once completed CTC Clearance is valid for 5 years, though it is possible for periodic checks to be made if there is a change of circumstances.

Security Clearance (SC) – SC is the most common vetting process used in the UK and covers a wide range of roles. SC is used for roles that require substantial access to secret information and assets and occasional access to top secret information and assets. SC Clearance, like CTC, is obtained through sponsorship of an employer. SC will need to be obtained before access will be granted to the employer’s site.

The SC process is similar to CTC and includes the following steps:

  • BPSS clearance
  • completion of a SC questionnaire
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Credit Reference Check and Security Service Check
  • Security Service Check

Gaining SC generally requires residence in the UK for 5 years. SC Clearance will last for 5 years before it needs to be renewed and can be transferred between roles. SC clearance will lapse if the clearance is not used over a 12 months’ period.

Developed Vetting (DV) – DV is the highest level of security clearance within the UK and is used for positions that require substantial unsupervised access to Top Secret assets or for those working in intelligence or security agencies. DV like the two previous clearance levels, is obtained through sponsorship of an employer. DV clearance will need to be obtained before access will be given to the site of employment.

The DV process is the most in-depth of the clearances and include the following steps to obtain:

  • BPSS check
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • Completion of a DV questionnaire
  • Credit Reference Check and review of personal finances
  • Security Service Check
  • Check of medical and psychological information provided
  • Subject Interview and further enquiries, which will include interviews with character referees and current and previous managers.

DV Clearance will last for 5 years before it will need to be renewed and will lapse immediately once the role has been left.

We hope that this break down of the clearances gives you a stronger of understanding of what Security Clearances are available and what sort of roles they will be used for. If you have found this post helpful, let us know as we appreciate the feedback. If there is anything that you want to see in our blog or have any comments in general post them below or get in touch using the information here.

Wish you a great weekend,

Warm Regards,



  1. Christopher Traynor

    How do I apply for a CTC check?

    • Daniel Huish

      Hi Christopher,

      With SC, CTC and DV they are sponsored checks, which means that the company/organisation that is employing you will apply for you if it is required for the position.

      So it is not something that you will need to apply for yourself.



  2. Darryl Hicks

    Hi I’m looking to do be dv clearned I left the army 14 years ago but now looking to do work where dv is needed and I just wondered were I start and the cost implication for this and I’m in the south East
    Thanks darryl

    • Sheree Davies

      Hi Darryl,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Individuals cannot apply for high level security clearances (DV, SC, CTC) themselves, it must be requested by an employer as it is required to be held by a sponsor. Therefore if there is a position you would like to apply for that requires a high level clearance, I would suggest submitting an application as if they feel you are a good fit for the position they may consider putting you through the clearance.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Gary

    Hi thanks for that . What’s nppv level 3 ! Is that SC ?

    • Sheree Davies

      Hi Gary, thank you for your comment. We don’t deal with NPPV Level 3, although I believe it is a similar level to SC clearance but only used by Police forces. If you were to apply for a position requiring SC clearance outside the police force, you would have to undergo SC clearance. I hope this helps.

  4. Ansy Swaddle

    I need B.P.S.S can i apply and pay for this myself.
    Thanks in adavance.

    • Sheree Davies

      Hi Andy, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately you cannot apply for BPSS yourself. We offer a couple of packages where we carry out the BPSS check for you along with a Disclosure Scotland. You can find more information on these packages here:

      If you have any questions or would like to go ahead with your chosen package, please let me know.

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