image of a criminal record support worker helping with paperwork

Becoming self-employed with a criminal record

One of the advantages of becoming self-employed is that you do not need to worry about having to declare your past convictions to an employer.

However, becoming self-employed does not completely remove the potential problems posed by having a criminal record. Aside from the usual considerations that everybody starting a business must take into account, if you have a criminal record there might be a few hurdles to overcome on your way to self-employment:

If you have unspent convictions, you must declare these to your insurance provider if they ask you for a declaration. You do not need to declare them if you are not asked, but failure to declare unspent convictions to an insurance provider that has asked will invalidate your policy.

If you are having trouble getting insurance due to your unspent conviction(s), please contact the Criminal Record Support Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

It is a good idea to keep your business and personal bank accounts separate. If you have past convictions for fraud, or if you are an undischarged bankrupt, you might find it difficult to open even a basic bank or building society account.

Although being self-employed means that you do not need to disclose your criminal record to an employer, you may need to disclose your criminal record or be asked to provide a criminal record certificate for any contracts you may take on. For example, you might set up a cleaning business and take on a local authority cleaning contract. The local authority is within their rights to ask you to make a criminal record declaration and provide a criminal record certificate.

If this is something you are worried about, please contact the Criminal Record Support Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

If there was any media coverage of your offence, or if it is easy to find details of your convictions online, you might risk losing clients or customers if your name is attached to your business. You may wish to consider either changing your name, or trading under a different name.

Criminal recrod support service staff member on Nacro helpline

You can contact us on 0300 123 1999 helpline@nacro.org.uk

Monday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 1pm – 5pm

Our advisors can help you with any questions you may have.