Access NI – FAQ’s

This page of our website gives further information around the most frequently asked questions we receive, we welcome the opportunity to add further questions and feedback to this section, if there is anything you would like adding please let us know.

When is a check required?

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

  • basic (individuals can request their own basic checks direct from Access NI)
  • standard (via an umbrella body)
  • enhanced (via an umbrella body)

An employer can ask all job applicants to apply for a basic check during the recruitment process.  Basic and Standard checks are not suitable for roles working with children or vulnerable adults.

An applicant must be 16 years of age or older to get a standard or enhanced check and they must apply through an AccessNI-registered body via their employer.

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

How much does a check cost?

Please refer to our ‘Fees and Costs‘ information for guidance.

How do I request a check?

Once registered with the ARC Disclosure Service, details are sent to your nominated contact on how to process an application.  This will involve the applicant completing an online application and the organisation sending completed PIN and ID validation forms to us, along with copies of ID, to enable us to process the check.  Further guidance is available on our ‘How to register for AccessNI checks’.

Where can I find guidance on how applicants apply for online checks?

We have produced a guidance document on how applicants apply for an AccessNI account, submit their application, forward their completed PIN and ID forms to yourselves, and how you forward information to us to enable applications to be countersigned.  We do not recommend that organisations complete applications on behalf of the employee read more on digital certificates …

How long does it take to get a check processed?

This can differ from application to application, the AccessNI website gives regular updates on their turnaround times.

How do I know when applications are complete?

The ARC Disclosure Service team monitor the progress of all applications counter-signed by us.  When results are known, whether an application is clear or not, an email with the relevant result is sent to the person who requested the check.

Is there a minimum requirement on the number of checks per month?

No, there is no minimum requirement, you can process as many checks each month as you wish.  You will be invoiced at the end of each month for the checks carried out for your organisation.

Do we have to be an ARC member to access your Disclosure Service?

No, you do not need to be an ARC member to use our Disclosure Service.

What are Volunteer checks?

If you whish to carry out a check for a volunteer to your organisation, please refer to our ‘Fees and Costs‘ information for guidance.

When should we recheck our staff?

Employers can recheck their staff at their own discretion. It is up to the employer to decide if they want to have a re-checking policy and to decide the intervals for re-checking. Some employers recheck every two or three years. Others rely on employees declaring any changes to their criminal records.  Some organisations refer to the guidelines issued from their Regulatory Body.

If criminal convictions are revealed on a disclosure certificate, the information is valid on the date the certificate is issued. An employer should check the date the certificate was issued to decide about getting a new one.

Can we keep copies of Disclosure Certificates?

Employers should not normally take or keep photocopies of an applicant’s certificate. If there is a business specific or appropriate reason for doing so, for example if there is a dispute or complaint, the employer must explain the reason and get the applicant’s permission.

Employers should not keep a certificate for longer than six months. If the employer needs to keep the copy longer than six months, they must tell AccessNI.

I need to process a check for a Transgender applicant, how do I do this?

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 advice about job applications where an AccessNI check is required, or you need help completing the AccessNI application, you should contact AccessNI on 0300 200 7888 and ask for the Operations Manager.

What is the guidance for working with children or vulnerable adults?

For employed staff or volunteers in a role providing services to, or having close and regular supervision of children or vulnerable adults, applicants will normally need to apply for an enhanced check.

An enhanced check must be applied for through a registered body.

If the position is home based, this must be recorded on the application and applies to:

  • an applicant carrying out some or all of the work with children or adults in their home
  • the applicant lives with someone who is being, or has been AccessNI checked because they work with children or carry out some or all of their work from home

Home based occupations include:

  • childminding
  • fostering
  • adoption

What happens if an applicant loses or damages their certificate?

If a disclosure certificate is lost or damaged, the applicant can ask AccessNI to reprint it, as long it is within 90 days of the certificate being issued. A reprint is free.

If 90 days have passed, the applicant will need a fresh criminal history check for a new disclosure certificate. This new check will be subject to the normal fees and costs applicable at the time of the application.

The applicant has received their Disclosure Certificate but they think there is something wrong, what can they do?

If the applicant thinks that the information on their AccessNI certificate shouldn’t be there or is incorrect, they can raise a dispute by contacting AccessNi via email or letter.  Their website gives further guidance.

A dispute must be raised within 90 days of the certificate being issued.

How long do ARC retain applicants data for?

Please see the ARC Retention and Deletion Policy for further information.