Security Clearance

How to get Security Clearance and what Is Security Clearance?

Security Clearance provides a certain level of assurance at a point in time as to an individual’s suitability to have trusted access to sensitive information.

To gain Security Clearance, a person must undergo a process of examination and evaluation, involving a background check, before employment is offered to them. The system applies to people whose employment involves access to sensitive government assets, information or personnel.

Security Cleared personnel can include crown servants, members of the security and intelligence agencies; members of the armed forces; the police; employees of certain other non-government organisations that are obliged to comply with the Government’s security procedures and employees of contractors providing goods and services to the Government. Government organisations in particular, including the Ministry of Defence, Central Government, Defence Estates and the Armed Forces, require Security Cleared personnel, as do companies in the private sector contracted to undertake work for these bodies.


“Expertise, Compliance, Technology, and Certifications – The Candidate Vetting Experience”

Security Clearance is needed to protect against threats from hostile intelligence services, cyber security threats, terrorists and other pressure groups. The results of the vetting process determine who can be given access to sensitive Government information or property.

All candidates who apply for jobs that provide access to sensitive information or sites are asked to complete security questionnaires. The personal details recorded on these questionnaires enable the necessary checks to be carried out. Interviews will also be undertaken, where necessary. The depth of checks varies according to the level of access to sensitive information that the job entails.

How Do I Get A Security Clearance?

Candidate vetting can help our clients apply for Security Clearance for an individual.

We do the major part of the Security Clearance and advise our clients on how they sponsor an employee through the  United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV).

Security Clearance in the UK requires that your organisation must be sponsored. They must be contracted (or are in the process of being contracted) to work on one or more specific classified projects. Additionally, a company will need to be ‘List X accredited’ in order to act as a sponsor. List X is awarded to companies that have been through a stringent security vetting process and have a need for security-cleared staff and contractors. For large contracts, an officer in the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) or Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) will be a  sponsor. For staff in sub-contracted organisations, sponsorship will be provided through the prime contractor.

It is important to note that Security Clearance is granted for a specific period of time depending on the employment term or for a particular project. It does not provide a guarantee of future reliability, and all Security Clearances are kept under review to ensure that the necessary level of assurance is maintained. This review is carried out by Government Departments and Government-sponsored contractors, who are responsible for the oversight and ‘aftercare’ of individuals granted Security Clearance. Aftercare can be provided by these contractors where there are minor reservations as to whether Security Clearance should have been granted to an individual.

Security Clearance can be verified and transferred to a new employer if required. If you require Security Clearance for a particular role, in certain circumstances, you will not be able to start your employment until Clearance has been obtained.

The main types of National Security Vetting are listed below, and are processed by the following Government agencies:

  • Defence Business Services, National Security Vetting (DBS NSV)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • Secret Intelligence Services
  • Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)


Developed Vetting (DV)

Developed Vetting (DV) is the highest level of Security Clearance and is required for people with substantial unsupervised access to TOP SECRET assets, or for those working in the Intelligence or Security agencies.A full DV Security Clearance process comprises the following mandatory vetting stages:

  • A Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS), which we as a company provide
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • DV Security Questionnaire
  • Credit Reference Check and review of personal finances
  • Security Service Check
  • Check of medical and psychological information provided
  • Interview of applicant and further enquiries made, which will include interviews with character referees and current and previous supervisors.

On completion of the vetting process, the information collected is assessed and a decision made to refuse or approve DV Clearance. Once Clearance is granted, it is only valid for a pre-determined period, after which a review must be conducted if the Clearance is still required. The DV Clearance process can take up to 9 months before full clearance is granted. Gaining DV Clearance will normally require you to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 10 years.

Security Check (SC)

A Security Check (SC, or SC Cleared) is required for people who have substantial access to SECRET or occasional controlled access to TOP SECRET assets.A full Security Check clearance process comprises:

  • A Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS), which Candidate Vetting supply.
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Security Service Check

On completion of the process, the information collected is assessed and a decision made to refuse or approve an SC clearance. The clearance process can take between 1-3 months to complete prior to the candidate starting work. Gaining Security Clearance will normally require you to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.

Counter Terrorist Check (CTC)

A Counter Terrorist Check (CTC, or CTC Cleared) is a Clearance required for people who work in close proximity to public figures, or who have access to material or information that may be vulnerable to terrorist attack, or whose role involves unrestricted access to government or commercial establishments considered to be at risk from terrorist attack.

A CTC Clearance level does not allow access to, or knowledge or custody of, protectively marked assets, but the Baseline Personnel Security Standard allows a degree of access.

The CTC Clearance process involves the following mandatory stages:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS), whichCandidate vetting supply.
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Security Service Check

On completion of the vetting process, the information collected is assessed and a decision made to refuse or approve a CTC Clearance. Gaining CTC Clearance will normally require you to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 3 years.

NATO / NATO Cleared

NATO has four levels of security classification:

  • NATO Restricted (NR)
  • NATO Confidential (NC)
  • NATO Secret (NS)
  • COSMIC Top Secret (CTS)

NATO’s clearance levels function independent of any clearance levels for other nations. However, it is understood that for most NATO nations, granting of a NATO Security Clearance is handled in a similar manner to that of obtaining a national Security Clearance.

BPSS and EPS are not formal security clearances, but are a package of pre-employment checks that represent good recruitment and employment practice.

A BPSS or EBS check aims to provide an appropriate level of assurance as to the trustworthiness, integrity, and probable reliability of prospective employees. These checks should be applied to:

All successful applicants for employment in the public sector and Armed Forces (both permanent and temporary)

All private sector employees working on government contracts (e.g. contractors and consultants), who require access to, or knowledge of, government assets protectively marked up to and including CONFIDENTIAL.

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