A standard DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check for taxi drivers details any criminal history, convictions, reprimands and warnings recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC).

If you work as a cab driver or operate a taxi fleet, at some point it’s likely you’ll undergo or apply for a DBS check, so it’s important to find out how they work and what they involve.

Customers will always choose to travel with drivers that seem trustworthy.

Along with a background check, there are plenty of steps you can take to boost your passengers’ confidence in your service – securing reliable taxi insurance is a wise place to start.

Taxi Insurer is here to help you find the right cover for your business.

We offer bespoke taxi insurance tailored to your needs, whether you’re an individual driver or a fleet owner, so you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re protected against risks such as accident and injury.

Your reputation is everything in the taxi industry. It’s vital to provide customers with reassurance that they’re in safe hands.

We’ve created this guide to help you understand the ins and outs of DBS checks – but keep in mind this should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.


Do I have to apply for a DBS check?

All taxi drivers are eligible for standard and enhanced DBS checks. This is because they transport adults and children frequently, some of whom may be vulnerable.

These background checks help to improve passenger security ensuring only suitable drivers can get behind the wheel.

At present, local councils determine driver standards, with the majority opting to screen would-be cabbies with enhanced DBS checks, as well as barred list checks.

However, new proposals stating that all councils should perform enhanced criminal checks (before granting taxi licences) are currently under consideration.

An enhanced DBS check can also include a check of the Adult’s Barred List and Children’s Barred List.

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The stats

According to a report released by the Department for Transport, in 2019 all local authorities requested that taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers had security checks made on them.

The number of authorities asking for enhanced DBS and barred list checks has increased since 2017, when the figure sat at 79% for taxi and PHV drivers.

By comparison, in 2019:

  • 90% of authorities (261 out of 291) required taxi drivers to undergo enhanced DBS checks along with barred list checks.
  • 89% of authorities (262 out of 293) required PHV drivers to undergo enhanced DBS checks along with barred list checks.
  • The remaining authorities requested an enhanced DBS check.

Clearly, whether you operate on a self-employed basis or own a full fleet of taxis, it’s highly likely you’ll need to apply for an enhanced DBS check in order to get a local licence – for yourself or your employees.

Uber has jumped on the bandwagon, too, requesting that all PHV drivers applying to work for the company undergo an enhanced DBS check, to help give their customers extra peace of mind.


What does an enhanced DBS check involve?

In 2012, government amendments to the Police Act 1997 Regulations made PHV and taxi drivers eligible for enhanced DBS checks, in a bid to safeguard passengers.

Before these changes were implemented, the only taxi drivers eligible for enhanced DBS checks were those who frequently transported vulnerable adults and children.

While a standard DBS check only covers a driver’s criminal history (taking into account the DBS filtering rule), an enhanced DBS check can also include checks against the Adult’s Barred List and Children’s Barred List, plus any information held by local police forces.

It’s worth noting that the DBS can’t access overseas criminal records, so potential employers may not get a full overview of an applicant’s record, if the applicant has lived outside of the UK at any point.

Unsurprisingly, enhanced DBS checks are now the norm in the taxi industry.

Why? Because local authorities recognise that cab drivers work in positions of significant responsibility, ferrying adults and children to and from various locations on a regular basis.

A street corner in London with a telephone box on it and a taxi on the road

What’s a barred list?

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 introduced two barred lists: the Children’s Barred List and the Adults’ Barred List.

These were implemented with the specific aim of protecting vulnerable people, preventing unsuitable candidates’ employment in roles that put them in contact with vulnerable groups.

These lists enable the DBS to keep a record of people who are barred from carrying out work with children or vulnerable adults.

Taxi drivers on the Children’s Barred List are unable to work in a ‘regulated activity’ with children.

If a cabbie is hired by a third-party organisation (a school or scout group, for example) and is driving a vehicle solely to transport children (including supervisors and carers), either once a week or more than three times within a 30-day timeframe, this would qualify as regulated activity.

This wouldn’t apply if a parent hires a driver privately to transport their child to and from a location.

There are also particular circumstances in which cab drivers qualify for DBS checks regarding their fitness to drive vulnerable adults around.

This doesn’t extend to a barred list check, although the majority of councils require these, too.


How much does a DBS check cost?

  • A standard check costs £23
  • An enhanced check costs £40
  • An enhanced and barred list check costs £40


Do I apply for an enhanced DBS check myself?

An individual is unable to apply for an enhanced DBS check: this must be carried out by a third-party organisation.

If you work for a taxi fleet, your employer will apply for one on your behalf: you’ll simply have to fill out the DBS check form. You might be employed by a school to transport children to and from their homes, in which case it would be the school’s responsibility to apply for DBS checks on your behalf.

Two people reviewing a document

What if I’m a self-employed taxi driver?

Many taxi drivers work on a self-employed basis.

In instances such as this, you can contact your local authority for assistance getting an enhanced DBS check carried out – you can apply for a basic check yourself via the DBS online application platform if you live in England or Wales, while those based in Scotland can use Disclosure Scotland.

Along with securing the right level of taxi insurance, cab drivers should aim to get an enhanced DBS check carried out, as it enables them to demonstrate a clean criminal record to potential customers.

If you run a private hire fleet you want reassurance your passengers are in safe hands, so it’s important to be vigilant when hiring new minicab drivers, applying for enhanced DBS checks every time you take on a new member of the team.


What does a DBS form include?

Applicants must provide:

  • Their current and previous names.
  • Their driving licence information.
  • Their current address.
  • Previous addresses covering a 5-year period.


How is a DBS check form filled out?

If you’re applying for a DBS check, the following steps must be taken:

  1. The relevant person will request an application form from DBS or your umbrella body.
  2. You’ll be asked to fill out the form, once the relevant person has verified your identity.
  3. After the form’s completed, you’ll gather the necessary documents as proof of your identity – you’ll need to include these in your application.
  4. Get the relevant person to countersign your form, once they’ve rechecked it.
  5. Post the relevant documents and completed form to DBS or your umbrella body.
  6. Wait for your certificate to arrive from the DBS.
  7. If you’re an employer, ensure the certificate is genuine when it arrives.

The form must provide accurate information and be fully completed, or else it will be rejected.

Make sure you record your Form Reference Number (found on the front of your application form), so you can use the government’s free tracking service to check on the progress of your application.

A person holding a car key up in-front of a dashboard

Where should I send my DBS form?

If you’re sending your form to the DBS, it must be sent to:

DBS applications

PO Box 3961

Royal Wootton Bassett



What documents do I need for a criminal record check?

You can look here for detailed guidance on the documents required for a criminal record check. However, you will likely provide three of the following documents:

  • A current, valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • A current driving licence
  • A current driving licence photocard
  • Bank or building society statement
  • Credit card statement
  • Council tax statement


What happens after I send my DBS form off?

A grass patch filled with daffodils in-front of Big Ben at dawn

Stage one: application received, then validated

At this point, your form will be checked for any omissions or mistakes. If it’s acceptable, it will be scanned onto the system at the DBS.

If it’s incorrect, it will be returned for rectification to the counter-signatory.


Stage two: Police Nation Computer (PNC) searched

The data provided on your form will be entered into the PNC, searching for possible matches.


Stage three: adults’ and children’s barred lists searched (if applicable)

The data provided on your form will be searched against barred lists.


Stage four: police records searched

Your enhanced check is then securely, electronically forwarded to the police for additional searches. Any findings are then returned to the DBS.


Stage five: DBS certificate issued

Your DBS disclosure will be printed in a secure environment and it will then be sent to you.


How long do DBS checks take?

Most checks take roughly eight weeks to complete but, according to the government site, the time a DBS check takes varies from application to application.

Some checks take longer to process, particularly when they’re being carried out at an enhanced level, as several police forces may be involved in the check.

If the information provided for the check is incorrect, this can also delay the processing time.

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What happens if I fail my DBS check?

A DBS check isn’t failed or passed: it simply provides employers with an account of an applicant’s criminal background, or lack of one.

However, if your check finds previous convictions, you may face a taxi-driving ban. The length of this ban depends on your local authority.

You may raise a dispute, if you believe you’ve mistakenly provided incorrect information within either:

  • The records you provided – for example, erroneous or irrelevant details regarding convictions.
  • Personal details, such as your employer’s details or your name.

Umbrella bodies or employers can also appeal the results of a DBS check, as long as they speak to the applicant beforehand.


Can DBS certificates expire?

A DBS certificate has no official expiry date.

However, it’s worth noting that the information detailed on a DBS certificate may become outdated.

If you’re hiring new drivers for your fleet, you may wish to check the ‘date of issue’ on an candidate’s certificate and weigh up whether you should request a fresh check – generally, it’s considered good practice to re-check employees every three years, at a minimum.


Can I start working as a taxi driver before my DBS check is completed?

It’s best to check with your local authority before you start work, as you want to stay within the law at all times.

A taxi meter on a dashboard at night

What else can I do to reassure my customers?

DBS checks help to keep the public safe.

Whether you’re self-employed or work as part of a fleet, business can only benefit when customers are comforted in the knowledge that enhanced DBS checks have been carried out – it helps build their trust in your service.

So, what else can you do to boost your credibility?

Provide excellent customer service

Word travels fast, so ensure every customer has a positive experience travelling with you.

Set up a website

A website is a great place to showcase positive passenger reviews, communicating your trustworthiness and dependability to potential customers.

Inspect your cars regularly

Check your cabs daily, assessing the health of the engine, tyres, lights and brakes. Make sure your drivers do a daily check of their vehicles as a matter of course.

Make sure you’re in tip-top condition

Get thorough medical and eyesight examinations and never drive in an impaired condition. Make sure you take regular breaks and never drive tired or after you’ve been drinking alcohol.

Secure reliable taxi insurance

Taxi Insurer arranges specialist taxi insurance that fits around your needs and business.

You never know when accidents or injuries might arise, so protect yourself and your investment: get a quote today.