Proof of age

"Got any ID?" It's pretty embarrassing to be turned away from a club simply because you've failed to prove your age. So here's the lowdown on ways to verify your identity.

polly pocket

"Got any ID for that wine box, love?"

Why do I need to carry ID to prove my age?

Basically, until you’re 21, the law restricts you by your age to do many things. If you’re going out for a night, you may be required to prove your age in the following situations:

  • It is illegal to buy alcohol until you are 18, except if you’re 16 or over and having a meal in an area of licensed premises, and sitting away from the bar
  • It is illegal to buy cigarettes below the age of 18
  • Some establishments have specific age limits, such as over 21s
  • If a venue (such as a bar or club) is not satisfied you are the required age it has the right to refuse you entry, not serve you alcoholic drinks, or ask you to leave the premises
  • Remember, if you’re asked to show ID don’t react with a bad attitude – acting childishly doesn’t help matters when entering somewhere restricted to adults

What kind of ID is accepted to prove my age?

Forget that tatty old swimming club membership card, your safest bet is to use your passport or driving license. However, other forms may also be accepted, such as your National Union of Students (NUS) card or International Student Identity Card (ISIC).

Most bars and clubs require proof of age cards to be PASS certified. You can purchase them from organisations such as Citizencard or YoungScot.

Fake ID and the law

We know what you can do with clipart and sticky-backed plastic, but don’t bother. It is illegal to create a forged identity document in order to claim you’re older than your real age with the intention to deceive others into, for example, selling you alcohol or cigarettes, or allowing you entry into an over-18s nightclub.

But I’ve seen companies that sell fake ID?

You will probably find that companies claim to sell these cards as novelties only, and they state that the cards hold no official status nor entitle the bearer to any rights or privileges whatsoever. They also quite rightly state that using these cards to lie about your age, identity or status for any purpose is illegal.

However, these companies don’t produce forgeries i.e. they don’t make exact copies of official ID cards or documents. Any attempt to do this is entirely illegal. Many companies advertising fake ID on the internet only make cards that are similar to real ones. For example, they might use the words ‘international student identity’ but not the actual ISIC logo (as this would be a breach of copyright). So what they’re doing isn’t illegal, it’s just you who takes responsibility for how you use the ID cards.

There are many different types of genuine proof of age cards, but there are also companies offering to sell you false ones and it’s not so difficult to produce your own fake ID. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many establishments now only accept passports, driving licences or PASS accredited cards as proof of ID.

Can I use someone else’s ID?

It may seem like a great idea to use an older brother or sister’s ID to sneak into your favourite club; but be aware that it’s illegal to use someone else’s ID and pass it up as your own. If charges were brought against you (and whoever you ‘borrowed’ the ID from) then it could have consequences in the future, such as when you apply for a passport.

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015