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What is Vetting and why is it important?

Vetting is the process to identify and manage any risks that could make our secrets vulnerable, and it takes place to help keep you and our organisations safe. MI5 work with very sensitive information, therefore most employees are required to obtain developed vetting (DV), which is the highest level of government security clearance.

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To attain DV clearance, you will attend a vetting interview. Trained vetting officers will begin to build an open and honest relationship with you and get to know you as a whole person. Everyone is different, and it is our different perspectives and experiences that make us a stronger team.

Some of the questions during the interview may feel intrusive, but our vetting officers are professional, discreet, and compassionate. Your vetting information will be held safely and securely, separate from recruitment information. If you are granted clearance, this is the beginning of a constructive relationship with our vetting team, and we’ll keep working with you to manage your clearance. You can learn more about DV in the video below.

The Developed Vetting Process. Sometimes called DV.
It’s something we do together.

Everyone in the UK intelligence services goes through it.
It’s thorough and it takes some time.

Our job is to understand whether Britain’s secrets will be safe with you.
To do this, we need to build an open and honest relationship with you.
And really get to know you as a whole person.

We understand that everyone is different. Nobody’s story is the same.
It’s our different perspectives and lived experiences that make us a stronger team. But a big part of keeping you and our organisation safe, is identifying and managing any risks that could make our secrets vulnerable.

When it comes to your vetting interview, we’re professional, discreet and compassionate.
Because you deserve nothing less.

We’re looking to understand you and your story in your own words. Everything that makes you who you are today.

We’ll want to hear about your early years. To where you are now.

Your hobbies, your mental health and your relationships.

We’ll want to know where you have been on holiday. Whether you’ve used drugs or drink alcohol.
We’ll ask you about your friends, your family, your finances, and everything in between.

We understand that some of these topics may feel intrusive. And they may well make you feel uncomfortable.
We’re trained to have these conversations, and we’ll work hard to create a safe space for you to tell us what we need to know.

It isn’t like a standard job interview.
There are no right or wrong answers.

All you need to do is be honest and be yourself.

You can ask us any questions and learn more about the responsibilities that come with having a DV clearance. To make sure it’s the right fit for you.

We take data protection seriously. You can be confident that we will keep your vetting information safe and secure, and access will be restricted to only those who need to know.

If your clearance is granted, this will be the beginning of a constructive relationship with vetting.
We’ll keep working with you to manage your clearance.

To protect your secrets and ours. From whatever the future may bring.
MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

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Advice to candidates

We do not publicly disclose the identities of our staff. Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application other than with your partner or a close family member, providing they are British. You should inform them of the importance of discretion. You should not post on social media about your application or discuss it with anyone else at this stage. You will receive guidance during the recruitment process.

Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application.

Vetting Process

What does the vetting process involve?

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Your Information


You will complete detailed questionnaires, discussing these with a vetting officer and agreeing references for interview. To avoid delays to your application please provide full and accurate information.

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Our Experts

Vetting Officer

Vetting officers are not employed to make moral judgements, they expect people will have had varied life experiences and will take a realistic view of modern life and its pressures.

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Second Opinion


Providing character referees is an important part of the vetting process. Your referees should be people who have known you well over a significant period of your life.

  • If you are not sure how much detail to provide then more is preferable.
  • Misleading information or omitted information will lead to a rejection.

Later on in the process you will be asked to provide details about yourself, family, partner and friends and associates. You have to provide financial information and there will be a check with a credit reference agency. You will also have to provide information relating to your health and lifestyle.

Vetting Process FAQs

Yes. Your vetting will be reviewed at regular intervals during your career.

The information you provide is carefully considered in deciding whether you should proceed through the process. We will ensure that all information collected during the process is accurate and treated in strictest confidence.

Vetting officers are not employed to make moral judgements – they expect that people will have had varied life experiences and they will take a realistic view of modern life and its pressures. They are aware that life can be complicated and any difficulties that you have experienced will be carefully considered.

Vetting officers deal with hundreds of cases each year and are trained to deal with any issues arising during the process. Each case is treated individually and great care is taken in coming to each decision.

Candidates undergoing security vetting are treated impartially and consistently irrespective of any disability they may have, or of their gender, marital status, age, ethnicity, religious affiliation or sexual orientation.

Successful candidates will be given an unconditional offer of employment when their DV has been granted. Unfortunately we do not offer feedback on vetting applications due to considerations of national security. 

Candidates who already hold DV clearance from their current employment may not need to have certain parts of the vetting process repeated. This will be assessed on a case by case basis.

We do not discriminate against applicants who may have entries on social networking sites. Discretion is an important part of working for the organisation, however, and we encourage candidates to use such sites sensibly and apply privacy settings as appropriate.

A criminal record would not necessarily preclude an applicant from gaining a job here. Each case is considered on an individual basis and all relevant convictions are taken into account.

Our staff and contractors are subject to a no drugs policy to reflect the adverse impact of illegal drug use and the misuse and abuse of other substances on behaviour, judgement, physical and mental health.

The policy prohibits use, possession or supply of illegal drugs, including use of drugs that are illegal in the UK, but are legal in some other countries. Misuse or abuse of prescribed medication or any other substance is also incompatible with holding security clearance which can be refused or withdrawn if this policy is not observed.

You must adhere to our policy from the point of application onwards. The point of application is the date you submit your application form. During the recruitment process, you will be asked for your consent to provide a sample which will be tested for drugs should your application proceed.

We realise some of our candidates will have used drugs in the past, and this may not be a bar to a successful application, but it is important to be open and honest about your drug/substance use.

Providing character referees is an important part of the vetting process. Your referees should be people who have known you well over a significant period of your life.

During the process you will be given advice on what to tell your referees and how to manage the relationship with them during this period and going forwards.

You will have to provide a range of documents during the process. Examples, but not an exhaustive list, include:

  • Current and expired passports
  • Photo card and paper counterpart of your driving licence, if held
  • Recent statements for bank, building society, credit card and store card accounts

We will need to contact your current employer at an appropriate stage during the process and we will seek your permission to contact them. You will be asked to provide details of past employers.

Why join MI5?

A career at MI5 is like no other. Not only is it rewarding and unique but the variety here is like no-where else. It is this variety that means most people stay at MI5 as they are able to fulfil all their career ambitions here without ever having to leave. We are also committed to rewarding the people who work for us and demonstrating our appreciation for their vital contribution by offering an excellent range of benefits.