Security Clearance in the United Kingdom, Applicant

If your job requires you to have access to sensitive information, assets, or equipment while working for the government or an industry partner, you must have a valid security clearance.

National security clearance is divided into five levels:

  • Check for Accreditation (AC)
  • CTC stands for Counter Terrorist Check.
  • Level 1B
  • SC stands for Security Check.
  • DV stands for Developed Vetting.

Please see United Kingdom Security Vetting: clearance levels for more information on the levels of clearance, who requires clearance, and what checks are performed.

Unless you are undergoing the Accreditation Check, you must also undergo a Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) check before beginning your security cleared role.

Explained: vetting

To obtain a security clearance, you must go through a process known as national security vetting, which consists of a series of background checks designed to determine your suitability for access to sensitive information, assets, and equipment.

Learn what information you must provide during the vetting process by reading our vetting explained guidance.

The charter for vetting

Our vetting charter also explains what to expect during the vetting process and your responsibilities as an applicant and clearance holder.

This section does not apply to applicants who are undergoing an Accreditation Check.

First, you'll need a sponsor, who is usually your human resources/personnel officer or the company security controller. Your sponsor must confirm that your role necessitates security clearance and that the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) has been met. After these checks are completed, your sponsor will create your clearance application and send you a link to complete a security questionnaire.

If you are a civil servant or serving in the HM Forces, your sponsor will be assigned once it is determined that you require clearance to perform your duties. If you are a contractor, you will not be sponsored unless your employer (or you, if you are a consultant) has been contracted, or is in the process of being contracted, to work on one or more specific classified projects.

Being security cleared does not guarantee future dependability, and all security clearances are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that the necessary level of assurance is maintained. This review is carried out by government departments and government-sponsored contractors who are in charge of overseeing and caring for individuals who have been granted a security clearance.

Because the security clearance will be owned by your sponsoring organization, it is their responsibility to notify UKSV when an individual no longer requires security clearance for their role or has left the organization.

This section does not apply to applicants who are undergoing an Accreditation Check.

UKSV National Security Vetting Solution: guidance for subjects contains instructions on how to activate your NSVS Portal account, access, complete, and submit your security questionnaire, submit a change of personal circumstances, and submit an aftercare incident report.

This section does not apply to applicants who are undergoing an Accreditation Check.


We will cross-check the information you have provided against crime and security databases, credit reference agencies, and with your referees and supervisors after you have submitted your security questionnaire.

We may need to contact you by phone, email, or mail on occasion to clarify information provided to us or to request additional information relevant to your circumstances. If you provided more than one email address in your application, ensure that you check each one on a regular basis so that you can respond to any requests in a timely manner. If you do not respond to a request for additional information, your application may be withdrawn.

Contact your sponsor for an update on the status of your application. Each security clearance application is unique and takes a different amount of time to complete. Our Helpdesk is unable to provide specific timelines for the completion of your application.

Level 1B

UKSV is currently transforming the national security clearance levels. The goal of this transformation is to improve your vetting experience by streamlining processes wherever possible. Level 1B security clearance was introduced on October 31, 2022, and will eventually replace CTC security clearance as part of the transformation of national security clearance levels.

The interview for vetting

Most people who go through the eSC, DV, or eDV vetting process are concerned about an interview. An interview is a standard procedure for these levels of national security vetting. Applicants undergoing CTC, Level 1B, or SC level vetting may be asked to attend an interview on occasion.

If you would prefer to discuss certain issues with a different Vetting Officer (for example, someone of your own gender, age profile, faith, or ethnic group), please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. For all enquiries, here's how to get in touch with UKSV.

Setting up an interview

One of our vetting officers will contact you directly to set up your interview. They could contact you using an unknown phone number or email address. Check for any messages sent to any phone numbers or email addresses you provided during the NSV application process on a regular basis.

If you require any special accommodations or reasonable adjustments to allow the interview to take place, please notify our vetting officer when they contact you.

Interviews typically last three hours, but they can sometimes last longer. They usually take place during regular business hours. The majority of interviews are conducted virtually via video call. Some interviews are conducted face to face, and if this is the case for your interview, your vetting officer will inform you. Face-to-face interviews will take place at the most convenient Cabinet Office location for you, as determined by the vetting officer. In exceptional circumstances, such as as a reasonable accommodation, your interview may be held at your home address.

You can invite a friend, colleague, or relative to the interview, but only if you feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics with them present.

Interview structure

A standard eSC, DV, or eDV interview will cover every aspect of your life. During the interview, the vetting officer will try to get a complete picture of you. The goal is for us to make an informed decision about whether you will be able to handle access to sensitive information or assets at the highest levels without becoming a security risk and a threat to national security.

Among the key themes are:

  • your honesty, loyalty, and dependability, as well as identifying any weaknesses that could lead to you being bribed or blackmailed
  • your extended family history (relationships and influences)
  • Previous drug-taking experiences (if any)
  • financial matters
  • political perspectives in general
  • international travel
  • hobbies

If you are asked to attend an interview for a CTC, Level 1B, or SC application, the interview will usually focus on a specific aspect of your life, but it may also include questions from a full DV interview.

How to Approach the Interview

Be completely truthful.

The interview will be intensely probing, but it is not and should not feel like an interrogation. Some of the questions will be intrusive, but they are asked to determine whether you are susceptible to pressure.

Sometimes people are ashamed or embarrassed to tell us about aspects of their lives. Typically, these have little or no security significance. They will not generally prevent or limit the granting of a security clearance.

The Vetting Officer will be objective and will not pass moral judgment on people's choices. They will only be concerned with evaluating potential security risks. As a result, it is critical that you remain open and honest throughout the interview process.

If you have any doubts about the relevance of any questions, you should ask the vetting officer why the question is being asked.

If we later discover that you lied or withheld information, we will most likely deny your clearance or withdraw it.

Interviews with supervisors and referees

A vetting officer will also interview the supervisors and referees you named on your security questionnaire.

You will not be notified when these are scheduled, so make sure your supervisors and referees are aware that they may be contacted and that you have provided their most up-to-date contact information.

Documents required for the interview

Applicants are frequently asked to bring the following documents to their interview (all documents must be original copies):

Documents in general:

  • Identification documents, such as a birth certificate, passport (also required for travel), driver's license, or identity card
  • Utility bills (as proof of residence)
  • CV (Curriculum Vitae)
  • Any change of name requires a deed poll or a certificate of declaration.
  • certificate of naturalisation or registration
  • certification of adoption
  • marriage certificate/documents proving civil partnership
  • Conditional Order, Decree Nisi, Final Order, or Absolute Decree
  • Orders for separation or maintenance
  • Certificate of Discharge from the HM Forces (HMF)

Financial information (for you and your partner):

  • bank statements for any current accounts (from the previous three months)
  • Credit, charge, and store card statements (last three months)
  • Mail order account statements (last three months)
  • all loans and hire purchase agreements, including details and statements
  • latest mortgage statement, including monthly payments and balance remaining
  • information on any County Court Judgments
  • last three pay stubs or pay statements
  • documents and statements pertaining to savings and investments
  • any other documents that support or aid in the explanation of any figures on the Financial Questionnaire (FQ)

Please keep in mind that if you rent a home or have other housing costs, you will not be required to provide additional documents for your initial interview because these costs can be verified through bank statements. If additional documents are required at any point, your Vetting Officer will discuss this with you on an individual basis.

Any additional requirements will be communicated to you by your vetting officer, usually prior to the interview. Any delay in submitting these documents will almost certainly cause your clearance to be delayed.

The UKSV National Security Vetting Solution: Guidance for Subjects includes a printable checklist of the required interview documentation.

Procedure for Making a Decision

The vetting process is designed to determine whether you pose any security risks that would preclude you from being hired for a sensitive position.

UKSV, the department or police force that requires you to have security clearance, or a Security Unit that performs this function on behalf of several departments, will make the decision whether to grant you security clearance.

All relevant information gathered during the vetting process, both favorable and unfavorable, will be considered in determining your suitability to hold clearance. These factors, as well as the security requirements of your role, are carefully considered.

The process will determine whether any negative information is serious enough to justify refusing or withdrawing a security clearance. If any security-related information is discovered about you, the assessor will consider a number of factors, including (where applicable) whether you have been as open as possible about it and whether you have resolved the issue, or it appears likely that you will resolve it favorably.

When someone's behavior raises security concerns, the assessor will consider the following factors:

  • the gravity of the behavior
  • how frequently it has occurred
  • the circumstances, including the reason for the event
  • the possibility that it will expose the individual to undue pressure or exploitation
  • what it implies about their dependability and trustworthiness

When evaluating the security significance of personal circumstances or behavior that may lead to vulnerability, the assessor will not allow personal or cultural bias to influence their decision. Personal circumstances or behavior only become security relevant if they make a clearance holder vulnerable to pressure or improper influence, or if they may lead to security breaches.

If you are denied clearance or your clearance is revoked, you will be notified and, if possible, given reasons. You will be notified if you are eligible to file an internal or external appeal. If the decision was made on security grounds, there is no legal requirement to inform someone who is being recruited by a new employer why they have been refused employment. They will be informed if possible, but national security or confidentiality concerns may prevent this.

The appeals procedure

All government departments and other government organizations that make National Security Vetting decisions must have an internal appeals process for people whose clearance has been denied or withdrawn. Employees of the organization (including members of the armed forces in the case of the Ministry of Defence) and anyone working for it under contract, either directly or as an employee of a contracted company, have the right to appeal. It is not available to a job applicant if no job offer has been made.

If you are denied clearance or have it withdrawn, the organization that made the decision should inform you of your right to appeal.

If this is the case, they will explain the procedure you must follow. Depending on the organization, this may take two stages, with the possibility of a higher-level internal review if your appeal is denied at the first hearing.

Following an internal appeal, you will be notified in writing whether or not your appeal was accepted. If your internal appeal is denied, you will be told as much as possible about the reasons why you were deemed unfit to hold a security clearance.

If you wish, you may then file a final appeal with the independent Security Vetting Appeals Panel (SVAP).

If you decide to appeal to SVAP, you must notify them in writing within 28 days of receiving the result of your internal appeal. The Panel's procedures will be explained to you by the Secretariat.

Security vetting appeals panel has more information about SVAP.

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