Exemptions from Security Industry Authority (SIA) Licensing

Information for staff working in roles outside the airport Security Restricted Area (SRA)

The broad requirements for conducting background checks for staff regulated under the National Aviation Security Programme (NASP), engaged in roles outside the Security Restricted Area (SRA), are the same as those for staff operating inside the SRA (where a SIA exemption already exists), e.g. where airside passes are issued.

Frequently Asked Questions about SIA exemptions

About Criminal Record Checks (CRC)

Information for recruitment agencies

Information for Known Consignor Security Managers

Working for a Regulated Agent

Other questions

What are the new requirements for vetting aviation security staff engaged in roles outside the airport SRA?

Certain aviation security personnel located outside the SRA and undertaking functions regulated in the NASP will be required to successfully complete a background check (which includes a CRC). This requirement was introduced via a More Stringent Measure (MSM) which took effect on 6 June 2012.

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Why are CRCs required? Aviation security personnel outside the SRA already meet EU baseline vetting standards (i.e. pre-employment checks)

This is necessary to introduce consistency.  Some sectors of the aviation security industry were in breach of the Private Security Industry Authority Act 2001 (PSIA), the legislation regulating the private security industry (including the SIA licensing provisions), which requires certain security functions to be licensable. Staff contravening the PSIA are liable to committing an offence. Exemptions also avoid dual regulation of the aviation security industry under the NASP and the PSIA.

The Department for Transport  submitted an application for an exemption from the requirement for certain aviation security personnel engaged in roles outside the airport SRA to obtain a SIA licence. The PSIA gives the Secretary of State powers to exempt staff who are subject to ‘suitable alternative arrangements’. These are defined in the PSIA as arrangements that are “equivalent, for all practical purposes so far as the protection of the public is concerned, to those applying to persons applying for and granted licences”.

This equivalence is determined by a comparison with the SIA's licensing requirements. Suitable alternative arrangements for the purposes of a licensing exemption necessitate imposing a baseline vetting requirement of a background check (which is comparable with the SIA licensing regime) in order for the request for an exemption to be granted. The alternative to not seeking an exemption would be for aviation security staff to obtain a SIA licence. This would be vastly more onerous in cost and time consuming. The cost of obtaining a CRC is less financially burdensome. Moreover, securing a SIA exemption maintains a single regulatory approach for respective sectors of industry and clear lines of responsibility.

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NASP-regulated personnel working in roles which are not designated as licensable by the SIA are not required to undergo background checks. Will this approach continue?

The roles and functions outlined in section 2 of the table attached with the Department for Transport’s Surefax (March 2012) are not licensable by the SIA and an exemption (requiring a CRC) for these roles and functions is therefore not applicable.  However, the requirement for all NASP-regulated cargo security staff to obtain a CRC may be mandated in the future. Any proposal to do so will be subject to a full risk assessment and consultation with industry under a separate work-stream.

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What level of CRC is required?

CRC at basic disclosure level is required to meet the requirements of a background check.

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How do I apply for a criminal record certificate?

Applications for CRCs, returned in the form of a criminal record certificate, can be made by individual employees or on behalf of a group of employees by an employer or agency (provided applicants have given their permission).

Applications from England, Wales and Scotland:

Applicants from Northern Ireland

What is the cost of a standard CRC?

The current fee for a criminal record certificate at basic disclosure level is £25 per employee.

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Does the requirement to obtain CRCs apply to new or existing staff?

The requirement to successfully complete a background check applies to all staff, irrespective of whether they are new or existing and regardless of length of service.

The only exception is where a staff member has a valid CRC already in force in respect of the role undertaken with the same employer. In the meantime, CRCs must be renewed on expiry, after 5 years.

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Are overseas CRCs required where prospective employees have previously resided, or spent periods abroad?

Yes, for the purposes of a background check, overseas criminal record certificates are required for each country in which an applicant has been continuously resident for 6 months or more, covering the previous 5 year period.

Recruitment records must also include an indication of the process used to cover criminal records in respective states of residence, and copies of all criminal record certificates obtained.

Recruitment records must be kept for all persons recruited for at least the duration of their contract of employment.

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What recruitment records must employers retain in order to provide evidence of CRCs having been successfully completed?

NASP provisions require that recruitment records shall be kept for the duration of an individual’s contract, and that those recruitment records must include, in the case of a background check, copies of all criminal record certificates.

A copy of the certificate should be kept on the personal file in order for the CAA’s Inspectors or independent validators to be able to verify that the relevant checks have been satisfactorily completed.

Criminal record certificates are the property of the individual who applies for them and to whom the information relates. Employers must therefore obtain permission from an individual in order to retain the certificate or keep a copy of it.

How long is a disclosure certificate (criminal record certificate) valid for?

Disclosure certificates, including those issued overseas, can be considered valid for up to 10 weeks from the date of issue.

If an overseas criminal record certificate is more than 10 weeks old but the applicant has not returned to a country from which a CRC was obtained since the date of issue (the date of issue can be up to 10 weeks prior to their date of departure), that certificate will be deemed valid.

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I am a recruitment agency supplying staff to the aviation security industry. Are CRCs already undertaken transferrable from one role to another?


No, disclosure certificates are only valid for 10 weeks from the date of issue.

In the case of new contracts of employment or work placements of staff on the books of a recruitment agency whose CRCs fall outside the 10 week period, a new disclosure certificate must be obtained. This is on the basis that each new employer is legally responsible and accountable for an employee during the period of the contract of employment.

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I am a Known Consignor Security Manager. Am I affected by the new CRC requirements?

The NASP requires that a Known Consignor shall designate at least one person at each site responsible for the application and supervision of the implementation of security controls at that site, i.e. a ‘Security Manager’.

  • Security Managers appointed on or after 29th April 2010 are already required under the NASP to successfully complete a background check.
  • Background checks are required for all Known Consignor Security Managers, irrespective of the date of appointment.

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I work for a Regulated Agent and am located in, or have access to, a warehouse where known screened cargo is stored. Do I need a CRC?

This depends on the role.

Personnel carrying out front-line security controls, such as the screening or guarding of cargo, are designated as SIA-licensable and are therefore subject to a CRC in order for the exemption to apply.

Staff undertaking, for example, administrative, clerical or IT roles, or who may simply have access to secure areas of a warehouse where known screened cargo or other supplies are stored, while conducting other non-front-line roles, are not deemed to be SIA licensable.

The activity of an individual ‘handling’ air cargo or other supplies who performs no security function (e.g. simply moving cargo or supplies from one area to another) would similarly be deemed not to be SIA licensable. In respect of both these examples of non-SIA licensable activity, a CRC is not required.

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What is the definition of ‘guarding’ within the PSIA?

The term ‘manned guarding’ originates from the PSIA and applies to any of the following activities:

  • Guarding premises against unauthorised access or occupation, against outbreaks of disorder or against damage.
  • Guarding property against destruction or damage, against being stolen or against being otherwise dishonestly taken or obtained.
  • Guarding one or more individuals against assault or against injuries that might be suffered in consequence of the unlawful conduct of others.

All of the above include providing a physical presence, or carrying out any form of patrol or surveillance.

Please see Schedule 2 of the PSIA for a full description.

For the purposes of the SIA licensing exemption under the NASP, such activities should be interpreted as those relating to the undertaking of an aviation security function.

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What if my role is not strictly security-related?

The SIA licensing provisions do not apply in respect of, for example, administrative or IT-related roles that do not have a security control function, i.e. those not designated as licensable under the PSIA and for which CRCs are not required.

If you remain in any doubt whether a particular NASP-regulated role is subject to SIA licensing and hence require a CRC to effect an exemption, please contact the SIA directly.

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What if a criminal record certificate at basic disclosure level reveals an unspent disqualifying conviction?

Where a person’s criminal record certificate lists a disqualifying conviction set out in the SCD (Schedule 11-1) and the Secretary of State for Transport has not issued a Certificate of Disregard relating to that person in respect of that conviction, that person cannot successfully complete a background check and is therefore ineligible to work in a NASP regulatory role.

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What does the term “disposal” mean in the context of disqualifying convictions?

“Disposal” is a generic legal term meaning that a court case or proceeding has been completed or has reached a resolution. In respect of a term of imprisonment, the disposal is the full sentence or prison term handed down by the judge or magistrate, not the actual time served. In other words, if a person has served 2 years out of a 3 year prison sentence, the time period to be taken into account in relation to a conviction for a disqualifying offence is 3 years.  

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Can I appeal against a disqualifying conviction?

You may appeal directly to the body that provided the disclosure certificate (Disclosure Scotland or Access NI) if you believe that the convictions shown are not yours or that the record is not yours, or that the conviction shown should be spent. You should use existing company grievance procedures if an employer has decided not to forward an application to a security clearance issuer because it believes that the disclosure shows that you have a disqualifying conviction. Where security clearance is provided by a separate security clearance issuer, you should use the appeals procedure operated by that issuer (e.g. the airport manager).

You may apply to the CAA for a ‘Certificate of Disregard’ if you have a disqualifying conviction which you feel should be disregarded for the purposes of confirming a background check and issuing the necessary clearance for the specified role.

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What action should an employer take if a criminal record certificate reveals a disqualifying conviction for an employee already in post who is awaiting a decision on an application for a Certificate of Disregard?

Individuals undertaking NASP functions outside the SRA for which a CRC is required cannot continue in that role unless they have successfully completed a background check.

Notification on a criminal record certificate of a disqualifying conviction would mean that a background check has not been successfully completed and would render an operative non-compliant with the NASP unless and until an application for a Certificate of Disregard is successful. An employer must therefore remove the employee from the NASP role (perhaps to another non-NASP activity) while the appeal is being determined. It is the CAA’s intention to issue a determination letter to the applicant within 28 days of the application.

This is consistent with the process presently in place for individuals applying for an airside pass.

In all cases, a criminal record certificate remains valid for up to 10 weeks from the date of issue, but the period during which the CAA is determining an application for a Certificate of Disregard (and during any subsequent appeal) will not count towards the 10 weeks.

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What, if any, involvement will the SIA have at airports going forward?

The SIA will continue to regulate security functions that do not fall under the NASP. This means that roles undertaken such as by check-in staff (who ask relevant security questions), profilers and retail security staff at directed airports will remain under SIA regulation. All security roles in relation to General Aviation airfields will also fall under the remit of the SIA.

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