Security clearances

Generally there are 4 standard security levels for working on nuclear facilities. The levels required are dictated by the site.

The hierarchy of clearance can be considered:

  • DV – Developed Vetting
  • SC – Security Check
  • CTC – Counter Terrorism Check (BPSS is required in addition)
  • BPSS – Basic Personnel Security Standard

DV and SC can NOT be purchased or acquired by an individual. This requires sponsorship from a site that requires those people to be cleared to these levels.

It can take months (see below) to become DV and SC cleared and, as such, this often precludes individuals looking to work on short term contracts who are not already cleared to these levels.


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 is normally undertaken as part of the recruiting process)
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • DV Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • 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.


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 is normally undertaken as part of the recruiting process
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Credit Reference Check
  • Security Service Check
  • It may also include an interview

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 2-4 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.


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), which is normally undertaken as part of the recruiting process)
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • 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.


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.

BPSS and EBS checks are normally conducted by the recruitment authorities or companies to the agreed standard. These checks underpin the national security vetting process, and therefore it is vital that they are carried out properly and thoroughly, and before any further vetting is completed.

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