UK Government

Home Office (National): New guidance helps pubs and clubs spot fake ID

Press Release   •   Feb 25, 2011 10:48 GMT

New posters warning young people of the risks of using fake ID and guidance to help door staff and those selling alcohol to spot false documents and know what to do once they have confiscated them, have been published by the Home Office today.

Schemes to crackdown on underage drinking such as Challenge 21 and 25 have made it more difficult for people to use fake ID to buy alcohol or get into pubs and bars, but the use of counterfeit ID bought over the internet or borrowed ID from older siblings or friends by some young people can still cause problems. Examples of the kinds of fake ID used include the international driving permit and the provisional motorcycle licence, which don't even exist as real documents.

The new guidance will make it easier for those selling alcohol to understand the law, what ID is acceptable, how to spot fake ID documents and what to do when documents are confiscated, as well as providing practical examples of best practice from around the country. New posters aimed at raising awareness of the consequences involved in using false ID are also available to download from

Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention James Brokenshire said:

"Selling alcohol to underage people can have serious consequences for them and for businesses and can lead to premises being shut down. We know the majority of premises are very responsible but many have told us that they are often unsure of how to deal with the use of fake or borrowed ID.

"The government recently introduced new measures to tackle premises that persistently sell alcohol to children in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, but we also recognise that the misuse of ID can be problematic for businesses.

"We have worked together with the National Union of Students, Proof of Age Standards Scheme, the police and the alcohol industry to develop this new guidance which will help to send a clear message that underage drinking will not be tolerated."

Robert Humphreys, Chairman of Proof of Age Standards Scheme, said:

"This new guidance gives most welcome clarification on the law and best practice where there has been much confusion. Local practice and local official guidance have varied widely across the country, making the elimination of false ID more difficult. 

"There should no longer be any doubt about the correct steps to take when such documents are presented, thereby greatly helping police, trading standards officers and staff on the door or selling alcohol to ensure that those entitled to enjoy a drink can do so easily, and those who are not are dealt with appropriately."

Bill Butler, Chief Executive of the Security Industry Authority, said:

"Professional SIA-licensed door supervisors play an important role in creating a safe environment for young adults visiting pubs and clubs, and can help to reduce under-age drinking. This guidance will help door staff to know what ID is acceptable, and to recognise and deal with fake ID."


1. The Home Office worked together with key representatives from the alcohol industry, the Security Industry Authority, the police, the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) and the National Union of Students to develop the guidance which can be found on the Home Office website at:

2. It is a criminal offence to use false or borrowed ID to gain entry to licensed premises or to buy alcohol. The penalties for doing so can lead to a maximum punishment of £5,000 and 10 years imprisonment.

3. It is a criminal offence to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 18. The penalties for doing so can include:

- a fine of up to £5,000; or 
- a voluntarily closure period of 48 hours or a fine of up to £10,000 and suspension of the licence for up to 3 months for persistent sales to children (2 instances in a 3 month period). On top of this, the licensing authority can review the licence. 

4. Click on the links to find out about Challenge 21, Challenge 25 or the Proof of Age Standard Schemes.


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