Security clearance in the UK

Many IT roles within defence and public sectors require prospective candidates to undergo security checks before the assignment can begin. The Government stipulates that people who will be working with ‘sensitive assets’ should undergo security checks to ensure that they do not pose any risk to national security by having access to this information.

Depending on what classification of assets you may have access to; there are different levels of security clearance you will need, which will be requested by the employer as part of the application process. These are:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)
  • Security Check (SC)
  • Counter-Terrorism Check (CTC)
  • Developed Vetting (DV)



This category includes the Baseline Personnel Security Standard and the Enhanced Baseline Standard (EBS). Both standards are generally used as pre-employment checks. The baseline level ascertains the trustworthiness and reliability of a prospective candidate whereas the enhanced level is often a prerequisite to higher security clearance levels.


This is required by employers for those candidates who will require access to ‘SECRET’ assets or occasional controlled access to ‘TOP SECRET’ assets. It is the most common level of clearance.


This is for candidates who will be working with sensitive data, material or people vulnerable to terrorist attack or whose work will involve unrestricted access to certain government or commercial establishments.


As the highest level of security clearance, this is for candidates who will have substantial unsupervised access to ‘TOP SECRET’ assets and/or will be working with intelligence and security agencies.

Security clearance checks

For any roles requiring security clearance, the hirer will arrange the necessary checks and they will be carried out through a Government agency. As a minimum, you will be asked to prove your identity (including your nationality and immigration status) and complete a Criminal Record Declaration Form. More intense background checks will be needed for higher levels of clearance such as full checks of your criminal record, credit reference checks and security service checks. Depending on the level of vetting required, security clearance can take anywhere between 1-2 days (BPSS) and six months (CTC and DV), with Security Checks taking around six weeks.

If you’re interested in applying for one of our security cleared jobs and/or have some questions about the security clearance process, please give us a call.



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