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If you’re a contractor and you intend to work with sensitive or confidential information, it’s likely that you may need security clearance. Becoming cleared can sometimes seem like a complex process, so we created a guide to outline all you need to know.
Security clearance (also known as SC clearance and security checking), is essentially a background check and a vetting process. It is a status granted to individuals, at a government or commercial level, that allows them to access sensitive or classified information. The more sensitive and restricted the information or area you will be working with, the deeper and more rigorous the checks that will be required.
Many contracts will require you to undergo some sort of clearance process if you are dealing with sensitive information, such as Government assets, intelligence agencies or in IT roles where you will be dealing with classified information. The process is intended to protect businesses and organisations against threat by thoroughly vetting a contractor through various methods. This will differ based on what check is required, but generally follows the same process.
You cannot apply for security clearance individually – your organisation must do it on your behalf when you apply for a role. You must be sponsored by a client who has contracted you to work on a specific project. Depending on the level of clearance required, you will be required to provide more sensitive information, but most will ask for the following as a minimum:
Higher levels of checks could be required and ask for additional information around your background, a credit check and sometimes more detail around any criminal history.
The main SC clearing bodies are:
There are four different levels of security checks and clearances available. Your role will dictate what level of clearance is required:
Basic Personnel Security Standard is not a formal clearance process but a pre-employment check. It is usually carried out by a recruitment agent before any further security checks are done. BPSS is intended to provide a good level of trustworthiness and integrity from a worker and is required in the following circumstances:
A Counter Terrorist Check is a clearance required for those who work closely with public figures or who have access to sensitive information. In order to gain a Counter Terrorist Check, it is usually required that you have been a UK citizen for at least 3 years.
A CTC will involve the following:
Developed Vetting is the highest level of clearance available and was created for those with unsupervised access to sensitive information. A DV check is comprehensive and will consist of the following:
Once all of this information has been gathered, a decision will be made as to whether DV status will be granted (this can take up to 9 months to complete). In order for you to be successful, it is usually required that you have been a UK citizen for at least 10 years.
A Security Check is the most common type of clearance and is required if you will have access to sensitive or government information on an occasional basis. A SC will comprise of the following elements:
Once all of this information has been gathered, the assessment period will usually take around 1-3 months to complete.
Find out how to maximise your take-home pay and become a successful contractor in our free guide. Also covered in our guide is:
Depending on the level of security clearance required will indicate how long the process will take, but this can be anywhere from 2 to 12 months on average. Obviously different levels of security clearance take different times to be cleared, so bear this in mind when applying:
No, but it really does help. Finding a security cleared role is easier if you are already checked, but this doesn’t mean that you should not apply. However, what you should keep in mind is that if you do not get cleared in time, you will be unable to fulfil the role.
Most security clearances last up to 12 months after the project finishes, obviously if you re-join a security cleared post within 12 months there is usually no need to go through the process again.
We’ve been providing expert accountancy advice and helping contractors to focus on doing what they do best since 1992.
Key industries which involve contractors to be security cleared are as follows:
If you’re looking for your next role, Security Cleared Jobs is a website dedicated to roles which require security clearance and is updated daily.
Becoming security cleared means that you will have access to roles which you wouldn’t otherwise. In certain sectors such as IT and Financial Services, being cleared can also show your trustworthiness to potential clients.
Once you have security clearance, the next step (if you haven’t done so already) is to find a contracting role. But where do you start?
Download our comprehensive guide to finding a contract, for all you need to know about ing role.
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