'Special category' data under the UK GDPR

The UK GDPR classifies some data as 'special category', meaning it's sensitive and needs more protection. Find out what kind of data is defined this way in schools, and the conditions you can use to justify processing it.

Last reviewed on 4 April 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 34954
  1. What counts as 'special category' data?
  2. Conditions for processing special category data
  3. Be aware of the risks of processing special category data

What counts as 'special category' data?

'Special category’ data is personal data that's more sensitive because there could be significant risks posed to an individual's rights and freedoms if it's lost or stolen. Therefore, this kind of data needs more protection. 

It includes personal data that reveals:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Political opinions
  • Religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Trade union membership

And data concerning:

  • Genetic information
  • Biometrics (such as fingerprints, retina and iris patterns), where used for identification purposes
  • Health – physical or mental
  • Sex life
  • Sexual orientation

Conditions for processing special category data

To process special category data you need to have both:

The Article 9 conditions mean your processing