Research passport Applications

Research Passport Scheme

A Research Passport is the mechanism for non-NHS staff to obtain an Honorary Research Contract (HRC) or Letter of Access (LOA) when they propose to carry out research in the NHS which either affects patient care or uses NHS facilities. The Research Passport scheme is a national scheme that enables HEI employers to share pre-engagement information about a researcher with relevant NHS organisations within which that researcher will be conducting their research activity.

Who needs a Research Passport?

Researchers will not need a research passport if:

  • you are an NHS employee (substantive)
  • you are an independent contractor (eg GP) or employed by an independent contractor
  • you have an honorary clinical contract with the NHS (eg clinical academic)
  • you are a student on a formal healthcare placement
  • you are a commercial researcher.

Different arrangements are needed for these categories, especially if the research is being undertaken at more than one NHS Organisation. These arrangements are outlined in the HR Good Practice Resource Pack.

If you are not in any of the above categories and you have no contractual relationship with the NHS, you will need a Research Passport if you are proposing to carry out research in the NHS.

If you are unsure whether you require a Research Passport please contact the West Midlands Clinical Research Network at

How do I obtain a Research Passport?

You can either apply for a project-specific or multi project passport, both of which are valid for 3 years, using the Research Passport Application form.

You should contact the CRN West Midlands Primary Care Study Support team via their generic email account  Via this route you will receive the relevant forms/information to complete the documentation you require for research passports/Letters of Access/Honorary Research Contract/Study Appendices. It is the responsibility of each researcher to apply for their own RPs/LOAs/HRCs/Appendices etc, keeping them up-to-date and notifying the CRN of any changes.

The Local Clinical Research Network Team will be able to advise you which type of passport is most suitable for your and will also specify what pre-engagement checks you are required to have as part of the Research Passport Application.

Pre-engagement checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

If a DBS check is required more information about the procedure can be accessed via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) web page.

Occupational Health Clearance

If Occupational Health clearance is required:

You should ensure that relevant pre-engagement checks are initiated as advised and sections 1-4 of the research passport form are completed accordingly. This must then be sent to the appropriate Department (outlined below) for completion of section 5.

Staff – Human Resources are responsible for ensuring that all the necessary pre-engagement checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory and for subsequently signing off section 5 of the form.
Students – Your Faculty Representative (see table below) is responsible for ensuring that all the necessary pre-engagement checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory and for subsequently signing off section 5 of the form.

FacultySchool / InstituteContact
Medical and Health Sciences iSTM
Medical and Health Sciences All others
Natural Sciences All
Humanities and Social Sciences All

Once section 5 has been completed the researcher must take the completed Research Passport form along with the supporting documents (eg CV, evidence of occupational health clearance, DBS certificate) to the lead NHS organisation for validation and authorisation.

Once authorised by an NHS organisation it becomes a valid Research Passport and can be provided along with the supporting documents to other NHS organisations where the research will be undertaken.

Further information

If you have any queries, or would like more information regarding the Research Passport Scheme please contact the Early Contact lead with the Clinical Research Network ( or your Faculty Human Resources Advisor.

More information about the Research Passport Scheme can be found on the NIHR website.