Legal advice: What you can, can't and must accept as ID

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Handy card: Having to carry a passport to pubs and clubs could to expensive and inconvenient losses
Handy card: Having to carry a passport to pubs and clubs could to expensive and inconvenient losses

Related tags: Identity document, Passport, Personal identification

Identity cards have come of age. Here's what you need to know on the legality of accepting proof-of-age identification.

We've all been there haven't we (myself more recently than I would care to remember) - that heart-stopping moment when you can't put your hands on your passport or driving licence when you most need it.

It can be hard enough when you are about to go on holiday, let alone when you have to take it out with you on a night on the tiles to prove your age. It is some time since I have had to do that, but for many young partygoers these days, a form of photographic identification on a night out is a must.

The Home Office has made a useful intervention in asking young people when going out for the night to take with them an alternative form of identification other than a driving licence or passport. These documents are clearly important, difficult, costly and complex to replace. Therefore, the Home Office is suggesting alternative forms of identification, such as the PASS card, which is a card with a hologram on it that most licensed premises will recognise as an alternative to a passport or driving licence.

The PASS scheme is a national guarantee scheme for proof-of-age cards, which has the backing of various authorities and sets a Kitemark standard for the cards that bear the hologram. The acceptance of such cards when verifying individuals' age does go towards demonstrating that the seller of any age-restricted projects has exercised due diligence. You can view the scheme and its details here​.

The difficulty is that there are some licensed premises and door staff who will not recognise the PASS hologram. This may be on occasions more for convenience than of necessity. I do, however, know of premises licenses where conditions are very restrictive and require certain forms of identity to be produced to verify someone's age and which do not always include a card bearing the PASS hologram. The only way to change this would be to submit a minor variation to make the amendment. Any such amendment is likely to be welcomed by the authorities, since the Guidance on Mandatory Licensing Conditions ​published by the Home Office in September 2014 sets out the forms of identification that should be accepted by licensed premises, including an identity card bearing the PASS hologram.

I also understand, anecdotally, that there had been problems with some of the identity scanning machines accepting identity cards bearing the PASS hologram, although I also understand that the manufacturers of these machines are doing what they can to ensure that as many cards bearing a PASS hologram are accepted by the equipment.

So the message is, help young people to play it safe and, where appropriate, accept identification cards bearing the PASS hologram.

After all, how would you feel should you be about to go on holiday only to find you last saw your passport when going into a bar or nightclub?!

Related topics: Licensing law

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