Section 3 - safer recruitment and DBS Checks

Safer recruitment and DBS Checks

All new volunteers who need an FA DBS Check during the Covid-19 pandemic, please ensure you read our additional guidance notes 3.11: Carrying out face-to-face Identity (ID) Document Verification for DBS Checks in line with Government Covid-19 guidelines. It provides additional advice to our safer recruitment and DBS guidance notes 3.1 to 3.10 inclusive. Like these guidance notes, it can be downloaded at the foot of this page.

Safer Recruitment

The intentions of most people who work with children in football are good. However, as part of football’s commitment to provide safe and enjoyable environments, sound recruitment and selection procedures are essential.

When clubs or leagues recruit new members, all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.

The FA’s Guidance Notes 3.1: Safer Recruitment of Volunteers in Grassroots Football outlines eight simple steps to take. You can read these notes under ‘Useful Resources’ at the foot of this page.  By following the guidance consistently, clubs and leagues with under-18s will help ensure fair and safer recruitment across the game.  

The FA's Policy on DBS Checks

As part of our safeguarding children strategy, The FA requires those working in eligible* roles with children and young people to pass a DBS Check. This is in line with legislation and government guidance and is standard practice.  

We provide the framework and guidance for DBS Checks in football. The leagues and clubs then have to implement this to ensure those required to have DBS Checks done have them.  

Where the DBS Check highlights relevant information, this is investigated further and a risk assessment is carried out to establish whether or not they will be accepted to work with children and young people in football.

Activities that require a DBS Check (Eligibility*)

* Eligibility is governed by legislation and government guidance. In brief this means a DBS Check is required for anyone aged 16 years or over who undertakes any potentially unsupervised roles working directly with children and young people under the age of 18. 

These activities include managing, training, coaching and supervising as well as giving advice or guidance on wellbeing, caring for children or driving a vehicle solely for children on behalf of a club or organisation. All coaches and managers working directly with under-18 players must hold a current, FA-accepted DBS Check. 

Anyone undertaking these activities in football MUST obtain a DBS Enhanced Criminal Record with Children’s Barred List Check.  See the relevant Guidance Notes at the foot of this page for role-specific guidance for clubs, coaches’ referees and FA licensed tutors. These Guidance Notes include one on the DBS eligibility criteria for a DBS Check.

You may have more than one role in football but you only need one DBS Check to cover all your roles in affiliated grassroots football.  Please note that this may be different if seeking work with professional clubs.

Guidance on getting a check 

Select the activity in which you have the most frequent contact with under-18s from the table below and follow up with the relevant contact point:

Your role in football  Action to take 
Grassroots coach, manager, first-aider or any other club-based eligible role (i.e. anyone who has a role with under-18s) Speak to your Club Welfare Officer (CWO)
Club Welfare Officer Speak to your CFA Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO)
Referee, referee mentor, referee coach, referee assessor and referee tutor in under-18 football Contact your CFA Referee Development Officer (RDO)
Working in a private soccer school or unaffiliated football You may not be able to get an FA enhanced DSB Check - speak to your line manager or call 0115 969 4618 or email for advice
Working in a Premier League club Contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer at your club.
Working in an English Football League Club Contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer at your Club, or contact 0115 969 4618 or email for advice
Unsure what you should be doing? Call 0115 969 4618 or email for advice

View list of County FA contacts

Once you have received the access information to apply for your FA DBS Check through GBG’s Online Disclosures portal, the process is quick and easy. There is additional guidance here for applicants, including helpful screen shots.

Current costs for checks

You are Administration fee online application method Administration fee paper application method Government charge  Total 
A Volunteer  £10  £20  Nil  £10 or £20 depending on application method
Not a Volunteer  £10  £20  £40  £50 or £60 depending on application method 

Paper-based DBS application form options are available, where online applications cannot be made. 

Tracking who has completed checks and training at club level

The FA's Whole Game System enables Club Welfare Officers (CWOs), assistant CWOs and club secretaries to track and manage club members who are required to do a check and complete safeguarding children training.

To register your club to use the online disclosures DBS Check  service or to make enquiries not covered by the guidance provided here, please email or call 0115 969 4618 and The FA Disclosure Barring Service Unit will be happy to assist.

DBS Check videos

The FA has created a series of videos to assist you and your club with the processing of DBS Checks. Click on the videos below for further guidance.