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Underage sales

Age verification policy - alcohol sales

Mandatory licence conditions require every premises licence holder, or club premises certificate holder, to ensure that an age verification policy applies to premises that sell or supply alcohol.

Procedures should be established and put into practice to ensure customers who appear to be below a certain age, usually, 25, are always asked to show suitable proof of age to verify they're old enough to buy alcohol.

Such policies are already well established in many business sectors. You may have heard of Challenge 21 and, more recently Challenge 25, as well as our own 'agecheck' material.

How do I meet requirements

The law doesn't say in detail what you must or must not do, so there's flexibility as to how you achieve the requirements. For example, the policy adopted in an independent convenience store may be very different from a nightclub or major supermarket.

Our guidance has been developed with local retailers in mind and suggests what we consider to be best practices. You may choose to do things differently, but you'll need to be able to demonstrate that your policy satisfies the mandatory conditions. 

The ultimate objective of the policy is to prevent anyone under 18 from being illegally supplied with alcohol

For more information on age restrictions applicable to certain special treatments and procedures see our age restricted treatments page

Best practice guidance and proof of age

Our Trading Standards have enforced the laws concerning age-restricted goods for over 20 years. We have a range of free guidance and signage materials to help businesses comply with the law. 

We support the proof of age standards scheme (PASS) which provides for approved ID cards to help retailers avoid making illegal underage sales.

Recognising and asking for approved proof of age is the best way of preventing underage sales because fake ID cards are widely available.

The key guidance to help you establish a policy is contained in our leaflets on age-restricted sales, which can be found on the trading standards business and compliance advice pages.

If you adopt a policy of following this guidance and train your staff accordingly, you should satisfy the mandatory licence condition. The guidance can also be posted or emailed to you on request.

The following signage material is available for you to display and can be posted or delivered to you on request;

  • challenge 25 agecheck signage
  • RU18 - fridge cabinet door /shelf edge stickers
  • age restricted products reminder till sticker (staff side)

We can also provide free refusals registers for staff to record age based refusals.

To view these items, download them from our business and compliance advice pages.

You may also wish to download Challenge 25 material from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association's website.

Further information

If you need further assistance, additional information or any point-of-sale material, contact us.

Members of our Licensing or Trading Standards teams can visit your premises to discuss things further. 

The GOV.UK website has further information on alcohol licensing and a downloadable policy declaration form that you may use.

Page last updated: 10 November 2023

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