Research Passport

What is a Research Passport?

The NHS Research Passport is a mechanism for obtaining permission to undertake research in an NHS organisation by means of an honorary research contract or a letter of access.

The Research Passport itself is a package of documents completed by the researcher with their substantive employer and then validated by the appropriate NHS Research and Development Office to obtain permission to undertake the research; it is not the permission per se. It lists the pre-engagement checks the substantive employer has carried out and can be used to provide evidence of these checks to any NHS organisation named on the Research Passport for the duration of the passport.

Research passports are issued for a period of three years. They may either be project-specific or, for researchers with an ongoing research portfolio allow the researcher to carry out a number of different projects over the course of three years. Where research activity lasts for more than three years, it is necessary to make an application for a new Research Passport when the old one has expired and at this time further checks, such as a new DBS check, may be required.

Do you require a research passport?

University staff

Researchers who have no contractual relationship with the NHS may need a research passport, but not all types of research activity require a research passport.

Departments should consider if the duties of the role fall under the NHS Research Governance framework. This may be with respect to a new appointment, or a current employee whose duties are changing. If this is the case Departments must complete an NHS assessment of work form.

If the completed assessment form indicates that arrangements are required departments should forward it to the Assistant Registrar (Resources) ( with a copy of the job summary form and the appropriate RSA form according to the University guidance on employing staff on projects.

The documentation will then be checked for consistency and recording. When approved the vacancy will be signed off by the Assistant Registrar via Eploy to notify the Research Support Office the department and HR. Where the request relates to an extension for an existing post holder the RSA3 should be sent to the Assistant Registrar at by email who will then approve via email.

Postgraduate students

Doctoral students undertaking research for a higher degree, which is not part of a healthcare placement, may require a Research Passport dependent upon the duties being undertaken.

If this is the case student must complete an NHS assessment of work form and send it to Head of Student Programmes, David Parker ( who will be able to verify your requirement for a research passport.

Applying for a Research Passport

If you require a Research Passport (RP) you will need to complete a Research Passport Application Form and follow the instructions below.  In order to minimise any delay in starting the research project, we advise that you complete the application for your Research Passport in good time and, preferably, before you are scheduled to start your research project. Please note that a Research Passport is only a means to obtain NHS governance arrangements via appropriate letters of access or honorary contracts it is not the permission itself. You may not work on any NHS site without the appropriate honorary contract or letter of access being in place and having the ability to produce it.

It is the responsibility of the individual to:

  • keep track of the progress of their Research Passport application
  • safely keep hold of their fully signed off RP ie the one which has been approved by the relevant NHS Trusts and to be able to produce when required
  • ensure that all letters of access and honorary contracts awarded against it are kept safely by them and relevnant letters are carried on to site you at all times (these may be electronic copies)
  • ensure that the RP kept up to date and any changes are recorded on appendices which must be submitted with the fully signed RP to the relevant Trusts for updating of the records and awarding of any new contracts or letters required



Sections 1-3

The individual is required to fully complete and to sign off in wet ink. Please note that in the majority of cases it is recommended to apply for a 3 year multi-project passport with the start and end date being 3 years apart eg 1 April 18 to 31 March 21 and detailing the projects to be undertaken in an appendix. If only one project is initially being undertaken this can be detailed on page 1 section 5.

Section 4


The University Principal Investigator or Line Manager is required to fully complete and sign off in wet ink. It is not acceptable for anyone who not employed by the University of Leicester to sign off this section.

The Principal Investigator must apply for permission to carry out research in the relevant NHS organisation and to apply for an ethical review of the research project prior to processing any Research Passports for staff.

Section 5

Staff must forward their RP with sections 1-4 fully completed and wet signed to Lesley Clissold via for completion and wet signature of section 5

Students must forward their RP with sections 1-4 fully completed and wet signed to David Parker ( for completion and wet signature of section 5

The following evidence is required  by Lesley/David to enable sign off of section 5:

  • Verified confirmation of eligibility to work in the UK – normally passport/visa
  • Verified evidence of address - current council tax, or current water rates, or a bank/building society statement or household bill dated within the last 3 months
  • Verified evidence of professional registration, where required
  • Verified copies of qualification certificates required for the role; this should include Good Clinical Practice (GCP) where relevant
  • Two references
  • Evidence from your CV that any gaps in employment of more than 6 months in the previous three year period have been verified at recruitment
  • If appropriate, confirmation of Occupational Health clearance via Occupational Health Nurse
  • If appropriate, DBS clearance at correct level (enhanced or standard) and for required population i.e. vulnerable adult/children or both

If any of the verified documents from the list above were not provided via the recruitment/registration process for your role, they will need to be verified by your department and sent to the Staff or Student team detailed above as appropriate.

Once your form has been wet signed by the Staff/Student team detailed above, it will be returned to the individual.

Section 6

The individual must complete the checklist and add the appropriate documentation.

The individual must then submit their Research Passport with section 1-6 fully completed, along with their CV, and evidence Occupational Health and DBS (where required) to the lead Trust Research and Development office (identified via the National Directory of NHS Research Offices). For UHL, please email your documents to Lisa Wann via

Section 7


This is only used by the NHS Trust where additional clearances are undertaken.
Section 8

The Trust will then validate the Research Passport by completing Section 8 and return the completed RP to the applicant. The applicant is the sole holder of the fully completed RP and the applicant must ensure that they hold securely for it’s duration and are able to produce it when required.

The Trust will award the appropriate Honorary Research Contract or Letter of Access, which will be sent to the applicant and also to the signatories in Section 4 & 5.

Where individuals are working with more than one Trust, they must submit their fully signed off Research Passport (section 1 to 8) and supporting documentation from Section 6 to the other Trusts to obtain the appropriate Honorary Contracts or Letter of Access from them.

The Trust/s will return the updated RP to the applicant for safe keeping. Copies of honorary contracts/letters of access will be sent by the issuing Trust/s to the individual and to the signatories in Section 4 & 5.


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College of Life Sciences
University of Leicester
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