How to Check a Person's Background in the UK

Checking a person’s background is an important step in ensuring your safety and protection. Mostly, people perform background checks on potential renters, employees and suitors. Many adoption agencies and biological parents willing to put up their children for adoption conduct background checks to ensure their children go to the right home. Using the Internet and a person’s name, you can perform a background check to find all of the important information that you’re looking for.

Go to the website of the National Archives of U.K. This website allows people to search for other persons using their names or by browsing through categories including births, deaths, professions and electoral registration. The records contain a history of a person’s employment and family background.

Visit the website This website provides information on family histories, civil partnerships and marriages, adoptions, and births and deaths from July 1, 1837, onwards (when the civil registration started).

To obtain these records, you need to provide "general register office" index reference or sufficient information for identifying the entry. GRO index reference includes the year when the birth/death/marriage was registered, district, volume and page number. You can search these indexes for free at Birmingham Central Library, Bridgend Reference and Information Library, The British Library, City of Westminster Archives Centre, The London Metropolitan Archives, Manchester City Library and Plymouth Central Library.

Once you have sufficient information for identifying the entry, order a certificate online by going to (see Resources). On the website, click the respective link (for instance, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates). Click the link “Order certificate online” and follow the registration process for placing your order.

Check the person’s police records by registering with the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau). You can only apply for a CRB check if you are an organization. CRB registration is not allowed for individuals seeking criminal checks on other people. Registering with the CRB will show you information regarding a person’s current and past convictions, along with any warnings and cautions against the person recorded on the Police National Computer. This is particularly helpful for organizations that hire new employees.

To register with CRB, call at 0870 90 90 822. According to CRB website, you will be asked a couple of questions regarding the nature of your business, the types of positions to be CRB checked, how you will meet the minimum application threshold, how you and the recipients of your CRB checks intend to meet the CRB's Code of Practice, and how you intend to meet the "conditions of registration."

Once you successfully answer these preregistration questions, CRB will send you a formal registration application form. Get your organization’s senior nominated person to complete the form, and submit 300 pounds (as of 2010) registration fee. After registration, you will be entitled to perform a criminal background check.