The NHS Research Passport

Note concerning Occupational Health (OH)

If you require an OH check and are undertaking research that falls in the remit of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STHTrust) then phone the STH Trust's OH Service - 0114 271 4737. The pre-engagement check form explains when OH checks and DBS checks are required (and when they are not).

What is a Research Passport?

A Research Passport is desgined to allow non-NHS staff to obtain an Honorary Research Contract or Letter of Access in order to do research in the NHS. The Research Passport system establishes a common system of pre-engagement checks which conform to the standards required by all NHS bodies, so are therefore transferrable across NHS Trusts.

Who does not need a Research Passport?

You will not need a Research Passport or an Honorary Research Contract if:

  • You have a contract of employment with the NHS; or
  • You have an Honorary Clinical Contract with an NHS Trust e.g. Clinical Academics; or
  • You are a student conducting research as part of your healthcare placement; or
  • You are a student employed by the NHS; or
  • You are a medical student undertaking an intercalated year.

Who needs a Research Passport?

If you are not in any of the above categories and have no contractual relationship with the NHS you will need a Research Passport in order to carry out research in the NHS. If you are unsure whether you require a Research Passport please contact the Research and Development Office at the relevant NHS Trust for clarification.

If you require a Research Passport please consult the relevant Pre-Engagement Check Form to clarify if you require a Criminal Record Bureau check and/or an Occupational Health Check. If you are in any doubt as to which checks are necessary please contact your lead NHS Trust's Research and Development Department to discuss the activities you will be undertaking so that they can advise what level of checks are necessary.

Information for staff

If you are a member of staff and the Research Passport process applies to you please see the staff flow diagram. Your key contact is Please note that you must have a substantive contract of employment with the University of Sheffield in order for the HR department to handle your Research Passport application.

Information for students

If you are a postgraduate research student and the Research Passport process applies to you please see the PGR student flow diagram. If you are a PGR student you should work with your supervisor, however, if you have any general questions regarding the process please contact Lindsay Unwin (, 21443) in Research Services.

Postgraduate students who conduct research within the NHS but who are not part of a healthcare placement need to complete a Research Passport.

If the student is not appropriately clinically qualified to undertake research activities that may have a direct bearing on the quality of care, the student should be supervised by a clinical supervisor who is an NHS employee or an HEI employee with an honorary clinical or research contract. Students supervised in this way do not require honorary research contracts, but if they wish to undertake research in the Sheffield Teachings Hospitals NHS Trust (STH Trust) then they will require a letter of access from the STH Trust.

Where a postgraduate student is appropriately clinically qualified & experienced direct supervision is not appropriate then the student must have an honorary research contract if the research will have a direct and foreseeable impact on the duty of care.