How long does a first aid at work certificate last?

Written by Anna Bishop
Jul 10, 2020

Anna is a Training Product Manager at Red Cross Training responsible for the development and review of our training products.

The critical question is not just how long a first aid at work certificate lasts, but whether it’s still suitable and stands up to scrutiny.

People are sometimes unsure about the validity period for first aid certificates and often contact us to help them determine how best to requalify their staff when the expiry date is growing near, or when the certificate itself has lapsed.Yet when your organisations first aid at work qualifications are due to expire, it’s not as simple as booking all your first aid personnel on the same course as before. It’s a time you are required to take stock and consider other issues, including:

  • Whether you should provide refresher training?
  • What qualifications your business needs now (not 3 years ago)?
  • How to undertake the necessary due diligence to discharge your duties?


How long does a first aid at work certificate last?

All first-aid training certificates are valid for 3 years. You should arrange to requalify first aiders before the certificate expires, otherwise they’ll not  be deemed competent to act  (See s.74 of The HSE's Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981.

Since 2013, First aid certificates have been valid for 3 years from the date the course completed. There is no longer an allowance for expiry retention where requalification courses maintain the original expiry date if completed early e.g. if you attend your requalification course 2 weeks early, your new certificate will be dated from the last day of your requalification course not your initial training.

The 28 day grace period, where the qualification bridges gaps in certificate coverage for up to 4 weeks while first aiders requalify if they were unable to before expiry, no longer applies either. Once the certificate has expired, the first aider will no longer be deemed competent to act as a first aider until they have successfully completed a further course.


How long do first aid skills last?

As with all skills, if you don't use them, they can fade. The HSE also recommends that first aiders undertake annual refresher training and are given regular time to review their course materials. Refresher training can be in a classroom or via e-Learning, it is up to you to consider what is most suitable for your first aiders. Regular training can help ensure people are able to recall the skills in an emergency and have the confidence to act, it also allows them to be updated on changes that may have taken place, ensuring they are up to date.


For a definitive look at your first aid at work obligations, download our ebook: The Complete Guide to First Aid at Work


What training is needed to requalify?

When your first aiders qualifications are due to expire you need to check that the qualification still meets your needs and book them onto appropriate training.

Emergency first aid at work is always completed in its entirety- training takes one day and covers the full content from their initial training.

First aid at Work requalifications will be dependent on the learners confidence and experience. So long as the learner has held a full First aid at Work certificate at some point, even if it has expired, they may be able to attend a 2 day requalification course. These courses cover the full content of the initial first aid at work course but content is condensed from 3 to 2 days.

The HSE recommend that if their certificate has expired by more than a month that they attend a full 3 day First aid at Work course which would allow them additional time to refresh their skills. For those that have not had much opportunity to use their first aid skills or who lack confidence in first aid, a full 3 day first aid course may be more suitable. It is down to you, the employer, to determine the most appropriate course to requalify them.

If your first aiders held a certificate other than an Emergency First aid at Work or First aid at Work certificate, it is for the you to choose the most appropriate training to requalify them.

Whatever course you choose you need to ensure you carry out due diligence and follow the advice provided in the ‘Selecting a first aid training provider’ publication supplied by the HSE.


Choosing a first aider course provider

It’s up to you to choose the most suitable training provider for your requirements. However, you must undertake appropriate due diligence (i.e. a reasonable investigation), covering:

  • The qualifications expected of the trainers and assessors
  • What monitoring and quality assurance systems are in place
  • Teaching standards of first-aid practice
  • Whether the syllabus content is sufficient
  • Validity of the certificates.

See the HSE's "Selecting a First-Aid Training Provider: A guide for Employers"



Certificates issued to students must contain all the information outlined in the Health and Safety (first-aid) regulations 1981 guidance. This includes:

  • The name of the training organisation
  • The name of the leader
  • The name of the qualification
  • A validity period of three years from the date of completion
  • An indication that the certificates has been issued for the purposes of complying with the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
  • A statement that the teaching was delivered in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice
  • If the qualification is neither first aid at work or emergency first aid at work the certificate should also provide an outline of the topics covered usually in the form of an appendix.

It’s important that employers keep on top of their first aid certificate qualifications and regularly reassess their needs. Skills can deteriorate over time and a lapse in training could potentially be the difference between life and death.

Keeping on top of your first aid certificates is just one aspect of staying compliant. Discover everything you need to know to with our definitive yet simple Complete Guide to First Aid at Work.

guide to first aid at work

Topics: First Aid

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