Research Passport

Research Passport

The Research Passport (RP) is the National Health Service (NHS) system for issuing honorary research contracts or letters of access to higher education institution researchers who require to undertake research activities within the NHS. The RP application provides evidence of pre-engagement checks undertaken on the researcher in line with NHS Employment Check Standards. These are then checked by the NHS Research and Development (R&D) office in order to evaluate the appropriate outcome of the application.

Who Needs a Research Passport?

If your research will involve you using NHS facilities, recruiting NHS patients as participants for your study or accessing NHS patient information, you will be required to complete an RP application.

Pre-Engagement Checks

In the majority of cases, the Research Passport requires two main pre-engagement checks to be carried out:

  • Criminal Record Check. In Scotland, this check is carried out by Disclosure Scotland. There are 3 levels of checks available; Basic, Standard and Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG). The appropriate level for you will be confirmed by the Employment Support Services Team based on your statement of activity.
  • Occupational Health Screening (OHS). You may be required to undertake an occupational health check in order to complete your RP application. The appropriate level of health check will be determined by your statement of activity and the Employment Support Services Team will be able to advise you on how to get the necessary certificates.

Table 1 on page 5 (highlighted in yellow) in the “Research in the NHS - HR Good Practice Resource Pack” summarises the checks required, but the Employment Support Services Team will be happy to assist you in confirming this.


Please note, confirmation on pre-engagement checks, the application for disclosure and the occupational health screening can take some time so it is important that you complete the RP process as soon as you have your research activities confirmed.

Therefore, you should ideally plan to start the RP process at least 3-4 months prior to the start of your research project.