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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Overseas Branches

The Scout Association has 8 branches, located in British Overseas Territories and some small independent countries that used to be linked to the UK.

They are located across the world in Gibraltar, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, Tonga and Tuvalu.

Constitutionally these Scouts are just as much part of The Scout Association, but operate in a largely autonomous environment. They still need the support of the UK as some of them are very small, only having one or two groups in some places.

To ensure that the Overseas Branches of The Scout Association have a voice in the running of the Movement, the Chief Volunteer for International (International Commissioner) and their team provides them with support and provides a link for them to UK Headquarters.

There is a current ongoing project supporting our Overseas Branches, to transition them more formally towards the UK structure, or to support them to become members of the World of Scouting Movement as a Scout Organisation in their own right.

Gibraltar is the first of our Overseas Branches to become formally a part of the UK federated structure and is now the equivalent of an English Scout County. We are currently engaging with Bermuda, Anguilla, Cayman Islands and BVI to do the same. This will open the support available to them from HQ and allow for a better understanding of scouting operations in these branches.

The Scout Association is committed, as far as possible, to enable our Branches with are Sovereign countries to stand on their own feet and apply for membership of World Scouting at the appropriate time.

South Africa was the first Branch to become independent in 1937, with India following in 1938, Canada in 1946, and Australia and New Zealand in 1953. Forty six former Branches in Commonwealth countries have so far gained their Scouting independence. Solomon Islands gained full membership of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement in 2021 and are now an independent Scout Organisation, and Antigua and Barbuda are our most recent, with acceptance being received on 24 November 2022.

Branches such as Tonga, Tuvalu and St Kitts and Nevis gained their political independence, and we are working with them to meet the membership criteria to become National Scout Organisations in their own right. Small Associations find these requirements difficult but it is a challenge with which The Scout Association, WOSM and other National Scout Organisations are helping. In particular Branches in the South Pacific are receiving support additionally from the Asia Pacific Scout Office and from New Zealand and Australia. Caribbean Branches receive support from the Inter American Scout Office.

The first Scout Troops in the Dominions and Colonies were formed in 1908. As was the custom in the British Empire in those days, they automatically became part of the Boy Scouts Association and they looked to what was then called Imperial Headquarters in London for guidance and instructions. By the beginning of the Great War, Scouting was to be found in 30 countries in the Empire.

At an early stage it became obvious that the methods of administering and organising Scouting in the United Kingdom were unsuited to the needs and conditions of those overseas, and this led to the formation of the Overseas Branches. Each was granted a constitution, a Chief Commissioner was appointed, and the Sovereign's representative in that territory was invited to become the local Chief Scout.

With the creation of the World Scout Movement at the first World Jamboree at Olympia in 1920, the question of the Branches becoming independent Scout Associations began to be considered. The decision to apply for membership of the Conference was one for the Branch itself to take.

If you are a volunteer in one of our Overseas Branches, please see below for guidance on child protection and the process for local checks for volunteers.

If you’ve not lived in the UK since you were 10

You're not required to complete a DBS check.

  • Apply for a local check as described in the guidance above.
  • When you receive the local disclosure, complete the Local Disclosure Check Form (you'll need to have a digital image of the document ready to upload; if the law in your country of residence does not permit copying of disclosures, make sure you provide sufficient information on the contents of the documents and full details of the issuing body).

If you have lived in the UK after aged 10 (including for periods of study)

All volunteers who've been resident in the UK for a period since their 10th birthday must complete a disclosure check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). In addition, any disclosure check that is available in the country in which the adult takes part in Scouting must also be undertaken.

  • Obtain an original, individually numbered DBS form from HQ – please contact 
  • Complete the DBS form in black ink with no alterations:
    • Make sure you compete the form fully and accurately. Read the MUST and MUST NOT notes on the front of the form
    • Section b. Current address: enter as: c/o Vetting Team, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London E4 7QW UK at address since enter as the date the form is completed
    • Section c. Other addresses: complete with the applicant’s current address outside the UK (with the date to being the date the form is completed); add addresses if required to show where you have lived for the last five years
    • Section e. Declaration by the applicant: to be signed (within the box) by the applicant
    • Section w. Evidence of Identity: to be completed by the evidence checker. Formal signature not required
    • Verify the identity of the applicant by reference to original documents, not photocopies
    • Verify the residence of the applicant by reference to appropriate documents
    • Section x. Apply for a DBS Check and Section y. Statement by registered person: please leave blank, as these will be completed at UK Headquarters

  • Send the completed form (original hard copy, not a photocopy or electronic copy) together with the completed form BSO DBS, by mail to: The Support Centre, The Scout Association, Gilwell Park, Chingford, LONDON, E4 7QW
  • Notify UKHQ that the paper application has been posted by completing this short form - DBS Notification Form
  • Once the form has been received The Scout Support Centre at UKHQ will:
    • Countersign and forward the application to the DBS
    • The disclosure certificate will be sent by the DBS to UK Headquarters, who will:
    • Update Compass
    • Notify the Appointments Secretary when the DBS process is complete
    • Mail the DBS certificate to the applicant at their current address
    • If there are any issues with the forms a member of the team will make contact to explain the next steps.

For further support and guidance about the disclosure check process for adults who volunteer within our Overseas Branches, contact

You can find everything you need on the website, including information on training, awards, programme resources, scout stores and supporting volunteers.

All volunteers need to complete the mandatory core learning for all roles, which can be found here

You can find all our safety and safeguarding cards here; these can be downloaded and shared with volunteers for quick guides.

World Organisation of the Scout Movement

Find out more about the World Scouting Movement