The ability to determine the age of young people has become increasingly difficult over the years. This has led to problems for both retailers and young people when trying to purchase and sell age related goods.

In October 2011, the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 was amended by the introduction of a new mandatory condition for all premises licences and occasional licences. This provides that there must be an age verification policy in relation to the sale of alcohol on the premises. The section has set a minimum age of 25 years for the policy where it appears to the person selling the alcohol that the customer may be under the age of 25 years.

Only the production of proof of age documents specified by law will satisfy the purpose of the age verification policy.  With effect from 1st October 2013, these are:

(i) A passport
(ii) A European Union photocard driving licence
(iii) A Ministry of Defence Form 90 (Defence Identity Card)
(iv) A photographic identity card bearing the national Proof of Age
Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram
(v) A national identity card issued by a European Union member state (other than the United Kingdom), Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, or
(vi) A Biometric Immigration Document.

It is for each business to decide which of these approved forms of identification it will accept in terms of the age verification policy. They need not all be accepted. It would be very prudent to exclude any type of document with which staff are not wholly familiar. Only the forms of identification acceptable to the business should be included in any declaration form signed by staff serving alcohol. Examples of the forms of proof of age are available from http://prado.consilium.europa.eu/EN/homeIndex.html and are contained in http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0038/00389871.pdf.

Proposing the introduction of Challenge 25 in the Scottish Parliament the Scottish Government’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, commented: “Age verification policies such as challenge 25 can help to empower staff to challenge customers where there is doubt about their age and to ensure that customers are more aware that they are likely to be asked to show proof of age. That can help to avoid confrontation...” [The Scottish Parliament, 22nd September 2010]


Nicola Sturgeon