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The mandatory conditions introduced in 2010 make it a requirement for premises to have an age verification policy in place, which requires their staff to ask customers who appear to them to be under the age of 18 to produce ID. It is extremely common for sites to operate stricter policies requiring ID from those appearing to be under 21, 25 or even 30!  As a minimum, they need to produce identification showing their photograph, date of birth and a holographic mark.

Examples of acceptable IDs include:

  • Photo card driving licences
  • Passports
  • Proof of age cards bearing the PASS hologram

Other forms of legitimate ID which meet the criteria described above are also acceptable.

However, fake IDs and borrowed IDs are extremely prevalent and are being used more frequently, therefore, staff need to ensure that they are being vigilant and thorough when checking ID.

To help premises stay ahead of the game, we have set out some tips below on what to look out for on IDs and some best practice measures if you spot a fake ID.

What to look out for on a driving licence

Also check for the following:

  • An incorrect flag image;
  • The wrong words across the top, e.g., ‘National Identification’ or ‘International Driving Permit’;
  • Different languages;
  • A plain or simple-patterned background;
  • A photograph in the wrong place; or
  • No signature/incorrect signature.

What to look out for on a passport

UK passports are valid for up to 10 years and 9 months, currently there are only two styles in circulation, which are as follows:

Also check for the following:

  • Security fibres; these will appear randomly across the paper and there is no repeat pattern throughout the pages of the passport, they will appear under a UV light.
  • Look at the quality of the printing – it should be solid lines of high quality.

What to look out for on a proof of age card

Remember, any ID card issued by CitizenCard can be confirmed as genuine online, provided the cardholder presents their card to be checked.

Still undecided? Try these questions (especially if you suspect a borrowed ID)

  • Ask the person for their date of birth: this can lead to them mixing their own with the one on the card or not being able to recite the date on the card on the spot.
  • Ask the person for their star sign: a young person may have memorised the date of birth on the card they are using but are unlikely to know the star sign.
  • Ask for another form of ID such as a bank card or student ID: if someone steals or borrows another person’s ID, they are unlikely to take other forms and their purse/wallet will have their own ID in it.
  • Ask for the postcode on the ID: a person using borrowed ID may know the first line of the address but may have difficulty remembering the postcode under pressure.
  • Ask for their age: someone with borrowed ID may accidentally give their own age or 18 as this is the legal drinking age.

Fake or borrowed ID spotted – now what?

It is a criminal offence to use false or borrowed ID to gain entry to licensed premises or to buy alcohol. If you are not satisfied with the document produced then you should always refuse the sale of alcohol and, if appropriate, ask the person to leave the premises. As with any normal incident or refusal, the incident and the details of the ID should always be noted and recorded in the refusal/incident book.

If presented with a fake or borrowed ID, you may ask the customer to hand the ID over to you, although door staff and bar staff do not have legal powers to seize ID. You could mention that the police will be called to investigate if they do not hand over the fake/borrowed ID.

Once in your possession, you should store the ID in a secure place until the police can collect it or a manager can take it to the police station.

We would recommend that the ID is handed over to the police as soon as reasonably practicable, but as good practice, false ID should not be held on the premises any longer than 72 hours.

Importantly, ensure that the situation is dealt with in a calm manner.

Please note that this information is for general guidance only and should not substitute professional legal advice. If you have specific concerns, we recommend consulting one of our legal experts.


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