How do I get security clearance in the UK?

Nathan Baldwin IT and Digital

A man sitting at a desk with a laptop

Gaining security clearance is often an essential part of the vetting process for many public or government-related projects. Depending on the type of project and position of the role, an employee can be required to pass several low to high levels of security clearance. But if you’re a contractor hoping to work on public on government contracts in the UK, how exactly do you get security clearance?


Can I apply for security clearance?

Employees cannot apply for security clearance, it is the responsibility of the employer or recruitment partner to conduct a screening and background checks to ensure all employees are security cleared. Your employer will enter you into a regulated vetting process, this process should fully comply with the guidelines set by the United Kingdom Security Vetting unit (UKSV). The USKV sets the guidelines of the security clearance process that ensures the relevant information is vetted.


How long will it take to become security cleared?

The time it takes to become security cleared can depend on the level of clearance you need. A basic Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) check can take around 7 - 10 days. Whilst a more high-level Developed Vetting check can take up to 9 months to complete.

Average time it takes to complete checks:

Baseline Personnel Security Standard: 7-10 days

Counter Terrorist Check: around 10 days

Developed Vetting: 6-9 months

Security Checks: 7-10 days


What information will I need to provide?

For basic security clearance you will typically need to provide your employer with basic personal information. This can include information like your nationality, date of birth, proof of address, immigration status etc. Higher-level security clearance will require you to provide more detailed information, the UKSV will look into things like your financial history, education even family history. If you are not sure about what information you need to provide you should always ask your employer or whoever is managing the vetting process.


Will I have to get security cleared again?

Security clearance often lasts for the duration of the employment contract. This means when your contract ends with one employer and you start work on a new project, you will likely need to get security clearance again. If you’re working on the same contract for over 10 years, then your security clearance will be renewed, and you will need to provide new information. If you are a migrant contractor your security clearance will need to be renewed every 12 months until you attain ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status.