How to Get Security Clearance in the UK

Updated November 21, 2016

Prospective employees may need security clearance in the United Kingdom in order to work with certain high-profile people, such as government ministers or people working with sensitive materials. An individual or company cannot apply for clearance on behalf of themselves. Security clearance must be applied for by a sponsor. The type of clearance falls into four categories: a Counter-Terrorist Check; Baseline Check; Security Check (SC), which is necessary to work with secret material; and the highest form of clearance, Developed Vetting (DV), which is necessary for people who want to work with top-secret material.

Apply for the job. Discuss the security check requirements with the personnel manager. In the case of a job with one of the large organisations, for example, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Defence Procurement Agency or the Defence Logistics Organization, the project officer will apply for security clearance on your behalf. Check the MOD website for details on the type of clearance required.

Find out the exact clearance requirements. These will include a baseline personnel check (part of the normal recruitment process). Your sponsor should also complete a department/company records check. A criminal records bureau check will be required. Fill in a security questionnaire. Be prepared to have your credit rating checked. Depending on the job you are applying for, your application will be processed by one of the following: the Defence Vetting Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Metropolitan Police Service or National Security Vetting.

Wait for clearance. The Baseline Check might be processed in as little as 2 weeks. Be aware that your clearance will not last forever. It has a time limit, and you and your prospective employer need to be aware of this. Keep a copy of all the clearance documents.


Discuss the security clearance requirements early in the job application process.


Be sure that your prospective employer will be prepared to wait, and take the risk of you not passing the clearance.

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About the Author

Noreen Wainwright has been writing since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The Daily Telegraph," "The Guardian," "The Countryman" and "The Lady." She has a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Liverpool Polytechnic and a postgraduate law degree from Staffordshire University.