Diabetes UK's analysis of the National Diabetes Audit showed 25% of diabetes patients in England did not receive the urinary albumin test in 2010/11. In Wales, 21.6% of patients did not have the check.
It means 750,000 people are missing out on the tests each year. The test can help to spot signs of kidney failure early so it can be treated to prevent further damage.
Diabetes UK said checks are often missed because patients forget to bring a urine sample to the consultation.
The charity urged GP practices to be more proactive in offering urinary albumin tests and reminding patients to bring urine samples to the surgery.
Many practices now offered checks to over 90% of their diabetes patients and the wider NHS should look to emulate their success, it said.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said it was 'concerning' so many checks were not completed. 'Kidney failure might not worry people with diabetes as much as other complications such as blindness and amputation, but it can have an equally devastating impact on quality of life,' she said.
'All those people who are not getting this check are at increased risk of needing dialysis and ultimately of dying early. But by increasing the number of people with diabetes getting these checks, we can help ensure they get treatment for any kidney problems early enough to give them the best possible chance of delaying progression.'
A record high of 9,753 people with diabetes needed renal replacement therapy during 2010/11.
NICE is currently developing a single QOF indicator for eight of the nine recommended annual checks for diabetes patients.