Research Passport

A Research Passport is the mechanism for non-clinical University staff to obtain an Honorary Research contract or Letter of Access when they propose to carry out research in the NHS.

The responsibility for obtaining an NHS Research Passport rests with the individual. However, the HR Department at the University must also counter-sign a section of the passport application for staff to certify that the employment aspects of the pre-engagement checks have been carried out.

Individuals should finalise the terms of their research contract with the NHS Trust, subject to obtaining the Research Passport. This will avoid undue effort and expense in completing the NHS Research Passport if the research contract is not approved.

Our HR team is here to support you and can provide specific advice and guidance.


Useful Links


Please note that you must have a substantive contract of employment with the University of Nottingham in order for the HR Department to handle your Research Passport application.

To complete an NHS Research Passport form and submit it to the relevant NHS Trust the following steps are required:

  1. Access the National Institute for Health Research for full details of the NHS Research Passport system and check with the relevant NHS Trust that you will require a Research Passport for the work you will be doing. for full details of the NHS Research Passport system and check with the relevant NHS Trust that you will require a Research Passport for the work you will be doing.
  2. Download the Research Passport form from the National Institute for Health Research.
  3. Individuals should complete Sections 1 to 3 and the line manager Section 4 of the Research Passport form
  4. Section 5 requires a number of checks to be validated by Human Resources. 

    a. Criminal Record Check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). When a DBS is required for a Research Passport, the DBS needs to be carried out within 6 months of an application for a Research Passport. Researchers should commence obtaining a DBS check as soon as possible, as they may take a number of weeks to be processed.

    b. Occupational Health clearance. As there is no standard set of health screening checks defined it is important for the researcher to establish with the NHS Trust whether the work they will be doing requires them to have an Occupational Health check specifically for their Research Passport. If it is identified that Occupational Health clearance is required then an additional Occupational Health assessment will be required on top of the University of Nottingham on-placement checks. The below form should be completed and then you should ask you manager to make a referral to the Occupational Health team. When completing the referral it should be made clear that you are making a referral because you require an NHS Research Passport and the completed form below should be attached.  Our Occupational Health team will arrange an appointment and produce a report that you can attached to your Research Passport paperwork.

    Research Passport Form Microsoft Word(protected version to be printed and completed by hand)

    Research Passport Form Microsoft Word(version which will allow you to complete online, but will need to be printed to sign)
  5. When section 5 of the Passport form has been completed and signed by the HR, the form will be returned to the originator to be completed, signed and forwarded to the relevant NHS Trust, together with originals of the documents required. The NHS Trust will counter-sign the form and return document originals, confirming that the Research Passport is valid.
  6. Once the form has been authorised by the lead NHS organisation it becomes a valid Research Passport that can be provided to other NHS organisations when an Honorary Research Contract or Letter of Access from them is required.

Clinical Academics

Clinical academics do not need an honorary research contract in order to undertake research in the partner NHS organisation where they undertake their clinical duties. This will be covered by their honorary clinical contract. 

When Clinical academics wish to carry out their research in other NHS organisations, they will need to submit their CV and the NHS proforma confirmation of pre-engagement checks (completed by their substantive employer) to the NHS organisation hosting their research. This form can be found at National Institute for Health Research. The NHS organisation hosting the research can then issue the researcher with the NHS to NHS Letter of Access.

For further information of the Research Passport please see National Institute for Health Research.

Postgraduate Researchers

The route to sign off for a postgraduate research student's Research Passport application is different to the HR process for members of staff. To assist postgraduate researchers and their research supervisors to navigate the research student process a 'How to Guide' is available on the Researcher Academy's SharePoint site (first time users of the SharePoint site will need to request access when prompted).    


Last edited Mar 23, 2022