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Pre-Employment Identity Checks

  • November 22, 2019

When you hire a new employee, it is essential to do pre-employment checks to confirm the suitability of the candidate you are hoping to take on. This is particularly true when hiring someone from overseas as you may need to complete additional checks beyond those of a candidate already working in the NHS. One of the key benefits of working with us as an agency is that we will be able to assist with the pre-employment checking phase. There are a series of assessments that will need to be performed once you have decided to offer a job to a candidate, and in this article, we will be overviewing the procedures involved identity checks that need to be completed.

Why are Identity Checks Performed?

Identity checks must be performed on any employee, whether they are a UK resident or coming to work in the UK from overseas. This is to confirm that a candidate is who they claim to be, and that they are not impersonating another individual or forging an identity. These checks can be particularly significant in the case of recruiting doctors from overseas, as you will likely not have had the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face yet. Whilst every effort is made on our part to screen candidates to ensure their validity before we ever offer them up for interview, official identity checks must, of course, be completed before an applicant can legally be employed. The NHS Employers website has an in-depth PDF outlining the process of confirming an applicant’s identity in more detail, you can download it here.

Types of Identity Checks

There are two elements to the identity check that must be performed. The first is to confirm a candidate’s personal identity, such as their name, age and place of birth. The second is to evidence their history in terms of their address and their current country of residence.

As such, two different types of documentation must be gathered to satisfy each part of the assessment.

Ordinarily, two forms of documentation to confirm their current address will be obtained, which satisfies the history portion of this check, and also one photographic form of identification to fulfill the personal identity segment.

It is also acceptable to take two forms of photographic identification, and one piece of documentation verifying their address instead.

Acceptable Documentation

Of course, only particular forms of certification will be acceptable for this process, the following are adequate forms of photographic identification for the personal identity check:

  • A passport
  • A UK Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card
  • A full or provisional UK/EU photocard driving license (if the license was issued in the UK by the DVLA, a paper counterpart won’t be required. If a license was issued in Northern Ireland by the DVA, it must be presented with a paper counterpart).
  • Photocard driving licenses from other nationalities (these are valid for up to 12 months from the date when the doctor first entered the UK. The person checking the document must be able to assure themselves that the license is bona fide).
  • Identity cards carrying the PASS (Proof of Age Standards Scheme) accreditation logo (issued in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only). Organisation identity cards are not acceptable as they do not contain watermarks, holograms or other security markings.
  • EEA/EU Government issued identity cards that comply with Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004, containing a biometric.

The same principal applies to documentation proving a candidate’s current address and home country. The following documents are acceptable for the history and address segment of the check:

  • A letter or utility bill from a service provider at a fixed address (this can be gas, water, electricity or landline telephone). More than one utility bill can be accepted if they have been issued by different suppliers. Any utility bills must be dated within the last three months.
  • A council tax statement from the UK or Channel Islands.
  • A recent bank statement within the last three months.
  • A rental agreement dated within the last three months.
  • A full or provisional photo-card driving license can be used if it hasn’t been presented as a form of photographic identification.
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax notification dated within the last 12 months.
  • A local UK rent card or tenancy agreement
  • A mortgage statement from a recognised lender dated within the last 12 months and from the UK or EEA. Statements issued outside of the EEA cannot be accepted.

If, for any reason, candidates are unable to provide the relevant amount of photographic identification, there are some documents that can be accepted instead, these are:

  • A full birth certificate issued by UK authorities overseas, such as embassies, high commissions and HM Forces.
  • A gender recognition certificate.
  • A police registration document.
  • A certificate of Employment.

It is possible to obtain photographs of a candidate from the GMC, as they photograph doctors during their own identification checking process. This can be used to compare an applicant’s passport photo with their GMC photo. It should be noted though if a doctor has not yet attended their GMC identification check, the GMC obviously won’t have a photograph on file yet. If you wish to obtain a doctor’s photograph, you will need to provide the GMC with an email address or fax number for them to send the photo to. They tend to get back to a request within four days. That said, they generally only have photographs of candidates who registered with them during and after 2004:

  • Doctors taking PLAB from 1st May 2004
  • EEA doctors who were granted registration from 1st May 2004
  • Doctors restored to the register from June 1st 2005
  • Newly registered doctors from 1st August 2005

What to look for on Documentation

Having gathered the relevant information and paperwork, it is beneficial to know precisely what you are looking for. The NHS Employers website has some stipulations stating that the information acquired from a potential employee should:

  • Have been issued by a trustworthy and reliable source.
  • Be a document that is difficult to forge (any of the documents listed in the acceptable documentation section of this article will adhere to this).
  • If the document is dated, it should be valid and current.
  • Have required some form of identity check before being issued.

They also specify that documentation should confirm:

  • The applicant’s full name
  • Contain a photograph of the applicant.
  • Contain the applicant’s signature.
  • Confirm their date and place of birth.
  • Confirm their current address.
  • Other biographical and social history information which may be cross-referenced.

Confirming the Authenticity of Documents

It is a legal requirement to make sure that any paperwork offered as evidence is legitimate. Again, NHS employers has a full list on how to check each document, which we will summarise here.


  • Ensure that the print on passports is clear and even.
  • Look for any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, paying close attention to issue and expiry dates.
  • Take note of excessive damage, the NHS employers website states that accidental damage is often used to conceal evidence of a passport being fraudulent.
  • Confirm the country of origin – sometimes fake country names, or names that are no longer used for certain countries are used on fake passports.

Driving Licenses

  • Take note of any damage to the card.
  • Photographs should always be in greyscale and should obviously match the likeness of an employee!
  • Ensure that the name, date of birth and personal details match the details the applicant has provided.
  • Check that the ‘valid’ date is the day before the license holder’s 70th birthday.

Birth Certificates

  • Ensure that the name and date of birth on the certificate match those provided by the candidate.
  • Certified copies of birth certificates can be accepted, to verify that a copy is official, it should say ‘certified copy’.
  • Confirm that the certificate format used is in the format for the year of registration.
  • Ensure that only the candidate’s surname is in uppercase format rather than the forenames.
  • Check for spelling mistakes.
  • Confirm that the date of birth and registration/issue dates are provided. The date of birth should be presented as the day and month written in words and the year in numbers.

Proof of Address

  • Check the document is on headed paper.
  • Ensure that the company logo is of a good quality.

Overall, one of the most important things is to confirm is that the information a doctor has provided matches up on each document.

In future blogs, we will explain how to check if a doctor is on the medical register, how to verify their English proficiency, the documentation needed to evidence their qualifications, acquiring references and completing health checks.

Hiring International Doctors

If you are an NHS Trust who needs support securing international doctors, we would be happy to help. Email us at [email protected]


checks, I. (2019). Identity checks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019]. (2019). Pre-employment checks. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Nov. 2019].


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