Certificates of Disregard

How to make an application for a disqualifying conviction to be disregarded

If a check of criminal records has revealed any unspent disqualifying conviction(s), the person in question will not normally be able to successfully complete their background check and so will not be able to work in any part of the aviation industry where a background check is required.

Unspent convictions for offences that involve violence, dishonesty or abuse of trust are disqualifying offences as they can indicate that the individual’s behaviour makes him or her vulnerable to pressure or improper influence or liable to commit a breach of security.

In these cases, the person may apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for a ‘Certificate of Disregard’.

Applicants should note that if a certificate of disregard is granted and they are able to successfully complete their background check they will be eligible to be employed in the area concerned. But it is for the employer to make the final employment decision.

Similarly, the final decision on issuing an airside pass rests with the pass issuing authority and this certificate does not mandate that a pass must be issued.

The process

Applications must be submitted to the CAA. The CAA will check that all the necessary documents and information have been provided and then pass this information on the Department for Transport (DfT). A DfT official will assess the application and make a decision based on the information provided.

The assessment process is designed around two key principles:

  • does the conviction and the information provided suggest that the person is a threat to aviation security?
  • based on the information provided, does the applicant demonstrate honesty, reliability and trustworthiness sufficient to work in an aviation security role that requires a background check?

When assessing an application, the following five criteria are used:

The age of the conviction: convictions are scored on their age, with recent convictions scoring higher than older convictions. Should an applicant have more than one disqualifying conviction on their record, the ‘age’ score will be based on the most recent conviction.

The seriousness of the offence: scores for the seriousness of the offence are based on the sentence handed down for each conviction. Custodial sentences, including suspended sentences will score the highest, whereas small fines or short community service orders will score the lowest.

The nature of the conviction: the ‘nature’ of the conviction is assessed based on what the conviction is and who the victim was. It also takes into account the defendants plea in court. A conviction for grievous bodily harm on an innocent victim will score higher than a conviction for minor theft or criminal damage.

The circumstances surrounding the conviction: the key consideration for the circumstances surrounding the conviction is any mitigating factors that the applicant puts forward. (E.g. provocation, misunderstanding, or the individual was immature at the time.) Also assessed under this criterion is whether or not the applicant has a pattern of offending or multiple convictions on their Disclosure Certificate.

Character References: character references are assessed on two key points—

  • who they are from and
  • the weight and depth of what is written in the reference.

The most weight will normally be placed on in depth references provided by a person of repute in the community, such as a probation officer, magistrate, lawyer, doctor, councillor, MP or other independent and reliable person.

Information and documents needed

The applicant must provide:

  • A valid disclosure certificate (this must be an original wherever possible and must be dated within 10 weeks of issue).
  • A clear explanation of why, in the applicant’s opinion, the disqualifying conviction should be disregarded. This will include the circumstances around the conviction and all relevant reasons why the conviction(s) should be disregarded, especially any reasons of mitigation.
  • At least one character reference (see below).
  • Any documentation available from the criminal trial(s) that resulted in the disqualifying conviction(s).

Other documentation the applicant may want to provide to support their application may include:

  • A letter of support from a solicitor, trade union or other representative body.
  • A letter of support from the employer / potential employer.
  • A letter of support from the airport pass issuing authority.

The application may contain any other information that the applicant considers relevant in demonstrating his or her good character before or since the conviction(s).

Character references

Any application for a Certificate of Disregard must have at least one character reference but ideally two or more will be provided.

Character references will be assessed on both the repute of the person who has written the reference and what they say about the applicant. Applicants should consider carefully who they can ask to provide a reference and ideally references will be provided by people who have known the applicant for several years and hold a position of suitable standing such as: probation officers, police officers, lawyers, doctors, MPs, councillors (this list is not exhaustive).

The character reference should state:

  • When the person first became aware of the applicant’s conviction(s).
  • The person’s experience of the applicant in terms of his or her overall integrity, honesty and trustworthiness
  • Anything else which reflects upon the applicant’s suitability to complete a background check and work in an aviation security role.

If the reference comes from an employer, it should be from someone with direct management responsibility for the applicant and include how long the person has known the applicant along with the date upon which the applicant commenced work for the employer.

How to apply

An application form can be found at the following link:

Please complete the application form and send it, along with originals of all the supporting documentation to:

Certificates of Disregard,

Aviation Security Regulation Team,

Civil Aviation Authority,
CAA House,
45-59 Kingsway,


Notices of decisions

When an application is received and no additional information is required from the applicant, we aim to notify the applicant of the decision within 28 days. If additional information is required, or a decision might be delayed beyond this period, we will contact the applicant as soon as possible either seeking additional information or explaining when the applicant should be notified of the decision.

Where a decision is made to grant the Certificate of Disregard, the certificate will be issued to the applicant by post. The certificate will list any and all disqualifying convictions to which it relates and state that the disqualifying conviction(s) may be permanently disregarded for the purposes of completing an aviation security background check.

Where a decision is made not to grant a certificate, the reasons for this refusal will be given in a determination letter.


Applicants have a right to appeal to a higher authority within DfT if they dispute the reason for refusal. Details of how to appeal will be sent to the applicant if their application is refused. Any appeal shall be lodged within 28 days of notification of refusal.