The CSCS card programme is an essential tool used in the construction industry. The scheme serves to identify a worker’s skill-set, experience, seniority, and often specific occupation. Employers are therefore eager for workforces to carry a relevant CSCS card, as it allows leadership teams to efficiently allocate on-site tasks.
If you’re already in possession of a CSCS card, it’s vitally important that you keep your membership in-date. To do this, you must renew your card before it expires. The expiration date of your scheme is advertised on the front of your card. However, please note that there is a renewable application window in place, extending six months before to six months after your card’s expiry date. Therefore, you have a full twelve months to ensure that you’ve taken the appropriate action to renew your membership.
Below is information on the CSCS card renewal process. This includes discussion on why renewal is so important, the physical application procedure, and associated card costs. If you’ve located this article because you’re looking for guidance on how to renew your card, there’s a good chance you’ll be fully aware of the role and function of CSCS cards within the trades sector. For those reading who are not currently card holders, it’s worth briefly explaining a little more about the overall CSCS card framework.
The CSCS, or Construction Skills Certification Scheme, has a number of different cards in operation. As mentioned earlier, these cards are issued dependent on the capability of the particular applicant. The various colours of these cards allude to the skill-set and knowledge level of the owner. However, there are some card schemes which are used to demonstrate that the holder is currently engaging in some format of training. Furthermore, many trades have their own, specific version of CSCS cards. Nevertheless, these schemes still tend to utilise the same colour categorisations to highlight the nature of their qualifying criteria.
As an example, we could use a fully-qualified plumber in possession of a blue CSCS card. Regardless of trade, a blue card highlights that the holder is a fully-qualified, skilled worker in their field or discipline. Therefore, this means, as it would if a carpenter, bricklayer or electrician held an equivalent card, that the plumber in question is fully trained to carry out the tasks and duties connected to their occupation.
If you’re unsure about which card is most relevant to your current workplace status, please visit the CSCS’ useful online ‘types of cards’ guide.
In order to successfully apply for any CSCS card, you must have sat and passed an appropriate CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test. This requirement is in place to ensure each applicant has a suitable grasp of construction site health & safety considerations.
The CITB, or Construction Industry Training Board, is a trusted and highly-respected organisation present in the trades sector. Their principal objective is to drive quality standards across the construction industry, and aim to do this through a number of initiatives. One of these is to establish fair, consistent, and suitably challenging testing criteria. Therefore, in passing any type of test, you’re ultimately validating your credentials via an industry-recognised assessment framework.
Which test do I need to take?
There are three different versions of the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test available. These are the Operatives, Specialist, and Managers and Professionals assessments. The test you take is entirely dependent on the card scheme you’ve applied for.
Those targeting green labourer or blue skilled worker cards, who are members of the general workforce, will be asked to take the Operatives test. This will also be the case for those in ‘red’ CSCS card programmes, currently in training. Applicants for gold cards, which will include supervisors and highly-technical workers, will need to sit a section of the ‘specialist’ category of testing most appropriate to their current or prospective job role. Lastly, the most well-qualified of applicants, such as managers and academically qualified personnel, will be required to sit the Managers and Professionals exam.
In all cases, this test must have passed within two years prior to the date of your application. You’ll be expected to hold a valid, CITB test certificate, taken within the last two years, each time you come to renew your card. This is because, in the intervening period between your assessments, there may have been changes to safety regulations or legislation.
Furthermore, the very presence of the test, and the knowledge that this must be regularly done, helps to keep health & safety awareness at the forefront of your mind.
The importance of having the right card, in the right place, at the right time
It’s critical to properly review which card is most appropriate for your industry position. This is not only important when you first join the CSCS programme, but remains an essential consideration as you move through your career.
Indeed, the card you’re in possession of now, may not be relevant to your needs in a couple of years-time. For example, if you currently hold a green labourer card, it could be that you complete the required training to become a fully-fledged skilled worker, long before the scheme’s five-year validity period ends. In this scenario, do not wait until your renewal date arrives!
So, be proactive! Always apply for the next card scheme you’re targeting, as soon as you’ve finished addressing its qualifying criteria. This will not only mean that you have a card relevant to your knowledge level and skill set, but also will better advertise your current capabilities when applying for new roles and opportunities.
How do I renew my CSCS card?
The methods available during the initial application process are the same used to process renewals.
Like your original card application, the most efficient way to renew your card is via the CSCS’ online application service. If you originally applied for your card online, you’ll already have registered for this service. However, if you’re not currently enrolled, you’ll be glad to discover that the sign-up process is easy. Simply visit the relevant CSCS webpage, and follow the on-screen instructions.
Once your registration has been approved, you’ll gain access to your personal CSCS portal. Here, you’ll be able to monitor any outstanding card applications, check the validity date of your current card, and track your membership of previous card schemes.
There is also an option to register for an employer account. This can be utilised by both local and national construction companies. By completing the online ‘Employer Application Form’, available via the employer account portal, businesses will be able to simultaneously submit multiple card applications (original and renewal) on behalf of employees. Unsurprisingly, this saves employers a considerable amount of administration hours.
Lastly, you should ensure that you’ve appropriately met any of your card’s renewal criteria. In most cases, this will just involve re-taking the specific CITB Test associated with your card scheme. However, in some cases, you may be required to have participated in refresher training modules.
Renewing your card over the phone
However, if you’d prefer to speak to someone when lodging your renewal application, you can call the CSCS directly. When doing this, ensure you call the CSCS within their contact centre’s operational hours. These are between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday (the centre is closed on weekends). To reach the CSCS by phone, please call 0344 994 4777.
If phoning on behalf of a colleague or family member, you’ll need to ensure they’re present with you at the time of your call. This is because they’ll need to provide verbal consent to the advisor that they’re comfortable with you handling their renewal process.
Furthermore, in order to progress the application, you’ll also need to provide either the candidate’s CSCS registration or national insurance number. Both of these checks have been put in place for security purposes, and to protect the integrity of the CSCS card programme. It’s worth noting that telephone applications typically take longer to process than those made online.
Providing your renewal application is successfully approved, you’re new CSCS card will be dispatched the next working day. It will usually take 3-10 days to arrive. If you do not receive your card prior to the end of this timeframe, then please contact the CSCS and inform them of the delay. To do this, you must call the organisation directly, using the phone number referenced above.
When your new card arrives, it should include all of your relevant qualification details on the reverse, as per your previous one. Furthermore, it will clearly also have an amended expiry date. All cards that are eligible for renewal are valid for a five-year period. Only ‘training’ cards, which are deployed temporarily until required learning modules have been completed (cards attached to the ‘red’ and ‘white’ schemes), are not renewable, and are subject to varying validation periods.
These timeframes are different, because, for these schemes, the CSCS allocates the expected time needed to navigate the particular cards’ associated training and qualification demands.
The validity length of each red card is listed below:
- Provisional CSCS Card: 6 months
- Trainee CSCS Card: 5 years
- Apprentice CSCS Card: 5 years
- Experienced Worker CSCS Card: 12 months
- Experienced Technical, Supervisor, or Manager CSCS Card: 3 years
However, don’t panic about completing your training in time! Within these timeframes, the CSCS has built-in additional space for any delays or significant issues. Therefore, you should feel that you have more than ample time to gain the required experience and qualifications.
By coincidence, each of the white CSCS cards, the Professionally Qualified Persons (PQP) and Academically Qualified Persons (AQP) card, are both valid for five years.
Once your training has concluded, there is no clearly no need to renew their temporary, ‘stop-gap’ card. You’ll then be in a position to apply for a higher-graded card scheme, as you’ll now be equipped to address more challenging qualifying criteria.
On receipt of any CSCS card, whether in relation to a new membership or renewal, it’s worth double checking that the expiry date matches the intended duration of the card.
How much is a CSCS card renewal?
The cost of your CSCS card, regardless of the scheme you’re applying for, will be £36.00. If you’re due to re-take your CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test, you’ll also need to pay a £21.00 assessment fee. Please book this directly through the Construction Industry Training Board. If you’re currently on a training course, and your personal learning provider is offering to book the test on your behalf, then ensure you’re fully aware of any additional charges. They may offer a supplementary service or benefit as part of this extra fee, so it’s worth reviewing whether this is something you feel you require. If not, it will likely be preferable to book your test independently.
Hopefully, you now feel confident about the CSCS card renewal process. It may be some time before your due to renew your card, but being clear on the application procedure now will ensure you’re that prepared to tackle the process when required.
Remember, your employer may make owning a valid, relevant CSCS card a compulsory measure. Therefore, ensure you regularly check your expiry date, and apply for the right card, at the right time. You’ll also need to ensure you’re prepared to take an appropriate CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test, each time you come to renew your card.
Allowing your current card to become invalid could cause significant frustration to yourself and your employer. Indeed, if your company has a strict policy with regards to holding a CSCS card, not having a valid card could result in a loss of earnings. It could also put the success of client-facing projects at risk. Therefore, ensure you’re always in control and submit your renewal application at the earliest opportunity within the aforementioned twelve-month window.
It’s important to select the application channel that you’re most comfortable with, whether that’s online, or over the phone. There is no ‘right or wrong’ method; both end up with you receiving exactly the same card! However, before starting this process, ensure you’ve hit all of the card’s renewal qualifying criteria.
If you require any further information on the renewal process, or indeed anything related to the CSCS programme, please speak to your course tutor or a trusted industry professional. Alternatively, you may want to visit the official CSCS website.
Lastly, if you’re currently renewing your CSCS card, we hope that our guide has proved useful, and that you receive your new card as soon as possible!