Basic disclosures (disclosing unspent convictions)

The information below doesn’t take into account the changes to basic checks in England & Wales in late 2017/early 2018. These are explained in detail here.

Official name

Criminal Conviction Certificate (often known as a ‘Basic disclosure’ or ‘Basic check’)

Issued by

Disclosure Scotland or Access NI

Note – If you live in England & Wales, you can apply to Disclosure Scotland and they will issue a basic disclosure under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act as it applies in England & Wales.


It is commonly used for employment positions covered by the ROA. It’s also used in other situations (e.g. insurance claims) where you might need to provide proof of your unspent convictions.

What it contains

Essentially, it contains unspent convictions. For guidance on whether your conviction is unspent, click here.

For checks carried out by Disclosure Scotland the certificate will include all unspent convictions recorded on the Police National Computer, the Scottish Criminal History System and the Criminal Record Viewer (Northern Ireland Conviction System).  For Access NI it is the Police National Computer and the Criminal Record Viewer.

For each conviction it includes the date of conviction, the court, the offence committed, the date of offence and the sentence/disposal.

Note – The details surrounding the sentence/disposal can sometimes come as a surprise, as many people don’t realise exactly what formed part of the ‘sentence’ that they received, such as certain disqualifications, fines or prohibitions.

There is more detail about how certain sentences, disposals and other penalties are treated on basic disclosures further down this page.

The example below shows what a basic disclosure looks like when revealing unspent convictions. Note – this example was pre-2014, and there is now text above the ‘Convictions’ section – see the example further down this page. Click on the image and zoom in if you’re struggling to read the text.


The example below shows what a basic disclosure looks like when there are no unspent convictions. Note – this example was where the individual had convictions on record, but they were spent and so not disclosed on this level of check. Click on the image and zoom in if you’re struggling to read the text.

basic front

How to apply

By post or online.

The disclosure laws under which you should get the disclosure issued depends on why you’re applying for a basic disclosure. As a matter of process, Disclosure Scotland will assume that you want the disclosure issued in line with the laws that apply to your home address.

For example, if you live in Newcastle, Disclosure Scotland will issue the disclosure under English law, unless you request otherwise.

You should ask yourself why you need the disclosure before deciding under what disclosure laws you want the check to be issued under. See ‘What countries does it cover’ earlier in this guide for further information.

Who can apply for it

You (or somebody on your behalf, with your consent)

Legally it is the individual who applies, although third parties do submit applications on behalf of individuals. Sometimes, employers will ask applicants to put the employers address as a ‘care of’ address so that it’s sent straight to whoever is undertaking pre-employment checks and Disclosure Scotland are therefore prepared to facilitate that.

Where the application is made on paper then Disclosure Scotland have the applicant’s signature to evidence that they have agreed to a “care of” address being entered in the current address section of the form. For electronic applications there is a paragraph in the Basic Disclosure section of their website that states:-


If you are applying for a Basic Disclosure on behalf of an employee or potential employee, you must have the written, and freely provided, consent of the applicant that the basic disclosure certificate may be returned to the applicant, care of the organisation’s address. This consent must cover whether or not the applicant agrees that the applying organisation can inspect the certificate prior to the applicant seeing that content.”

The principle set out in the quotation is also incorporated in the formal documentation that organisations who submit bulk electronic applications enter into.

Contact details

Find out about the contact details of Disclosure Scotland
Disclosure Scotland can also deal with queries regarding the ROA. You can email

Find out about the contact details of Access NI


£25 (Disclosure Scotland) £26 (Access NI)
The cost is sometimes covered by the organisation requiring it.

Where it is sent

To you, although you can choose for it to be sent to an employer as part of the application process, though in this situation you won’t receive a copy.

If you’re applying for a job at a new company and it involves a basic disclosure, you might want to be aware that a high proportion of basic applications that employers apply for go via the ‘bulk electronic’ process which is likely to mean that although the disclosure will be addressed to you, it will be sent to the employers address. This may result in the employer opening it, particularly if you have given your consent for them to do this. Other employers might simply request that you apply for the disclosure, but put their address down as the ‘care of’ address. This makes it even more important that you make sure that you find out about your criminal record before applying for specific roles.

How long it takes

Within 14 calendar days

Link to anonymous example

basic front

basic back

How certain disposals are treated

This section provides some details on how certain disposals are treated on basic disclosures. This section should be read alongside our detailed guide on working out whether convictions are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Compensation orders

Currently, Disclosure Scotland will only consider a compensation order as ‘spent’ (i.e. paid in full) if you can provide proof of full payment.

This is something that we are challenging at the moment, as we don’t believe that this system is workable. It’s not particularly clear when you apply for a basic disclosure that you have to provide this proof, and many people don’t even realise they have a compensation order. If you end up receiving your disclosure without providing proof, you have to get another application, alongside your proof of payment, to have an accurate one issued.

However, while this situation remains as it is, you’ll need to provide proof. In England & Wales, you can obtain a letter of confirmation from the court when any compensation order has been paid in full. There is guidance in the magistrates’ courts’ staff manual as to the wording to be used in a proof of payment letter relating to compensation orders. If you didn’t get this at the time of paying the compensation, you should be able to get something from the court at a later stage.

A copy of that letter should be provided to Disclosure Scotland either with your application or separately in confidence if your application is being submitted via a third party.

To submit proof of payment independently of submitting an application, you can send it:

You should quote your application barcode or reference number, or your name, current address, and date of birth in your communication.

Once you’ve submitted proof once, Disclosure Scotland should keep this on file in case you have to apply for a further disclosure in the future.

However, their operational practice appears to be as follows:

  1. If the compensation order was for less than £100, they’ll process the check without the need for proof of payment
  2. If the application goes via an employer or other third party, and it is being returned to them, they will contact the individual first to ask if there is any proof of payment of the compensation order.

Disqualification from working with children

Orders for disqualification from working with children under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 are not treated as ‘sentences’ as such, and so do not impact on whether the conviction appears on the basic disclosure. It’s the ‘sentence’ that is used. So if you received a 3 year prison sentence, and an indefinite/lifetime disqualification, it would be the 3 year sentence that would be used to work out how long the conviction appeared on the basic disclosure.

Sexual offences notification requirement

If the conviction remains unspent, Disclosure Scotland are currently disclosing the fact that somebody is subject to the notification requirements. The length of time subject to these should not be taken into account when deciding whether the conviction is spent, but if it is unspent, it might be disclosed. This is something that we are challenging.

How to correct inaccurate information

For Disclosure Scotland, email or write to Disclosure Scotland, PO BOX 250, Glasgow, G51 1YU
For Access NI, you should write to the Department of Justice, Block B, Castle Building, Stormont Estate, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT4 3SG
You have 90 days from the date of issue of a certificate to raise a dispute

More details on applying for one

When applying to Disclosure Scotland, they will process your check under the laws that apply to your home address, unless you specify otherwise.

If your employers’ address is entered on the application form as the address for the certificate to be sent to, it will be sent to them only (and not to you). Before this happens, if the employer is not a Responsible Body, you will be contacted to ensure you agree to this. This is to ensure that an employer cannot apply for one on your behalf without your explicit consent.

If the employer is a Responsible Body, they may provide you with a form to complete and return to them, for them to submit to Disclosure Scotland. They may also do this electronically. This is normally for larger employers (such as Royal Mail) – details of some of these were released in an FOI response in November 2013, available to download here (Excel document).

Other information

The information above doesn’t take into account the changes to basic checks in England & Wales in late 2017/early 2018. These are explained in detail here.
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  • Junior

    Just sent an apology letter to the employer an updated certificate. I am in the process of pursuing legal action about a data protection breach