How to ask for identification

27-Aug-2012 – Last updated on 29-Aug-2012 at 08:27 GMT

It is vital for businesses to show due diligence in the sale of alcohol products and ensure that employees perform the necessary age verification checks to avoid the illegal selling of alcohol to under-18s.

However, there is a crucial element that is often overlooked when selling age-restricted products in pubs and bars, and that is how​ staff ask customers for ID and how​ this makes their young customers feel.

A recent Market Force (Europe) survey of 1,506 UK consumers aged 18-21 found that:

  • One in five young customers feel embarrassed and intimidated when entering locations where alcohol is sold and when asked for ID whilst purchasing it.
  • Fifty per cent of young customers feel the way they are asked for ID directly affects their experience.
  • One in three young customers will not return if an establishment leaves them with a negative impression.

It is apparent that we are creating an uncomfortable experience for young people and must do more to ensure the age verification process does not put off potential customers.

Hospitality business owners need only imagine how an 18-year-old entering the pub to buy a beer for the first time will feel, if met by doubt and suspicion from staff. Yet employees are wary of situations that pose a potential threat to their job, just as employers are fearful of under training staff in the importance of age verification checks.

Example Sentences

  • May I see some photo ID?
  • Can I see your passport?
  • Driver’s license, please.
  • Do you have your birth certificate?
  • How long have you been in the country?
  • Are you here for a holiday?
  • Do you have another piece of ID?

ID is different in every country

It is important to keep in mind that every country requires different documentation that proves someone’s identification (ID). In many countries such as Greece and Spain a national ID card is compulsory. Citizens are expected to have these cards on them at all times. However, in other countries ID cards are not required. Police and officials in these countries often use another system to identify people, such as asking for two pieces of ID.

Types of ID

  • Passport
  • Government-issued Photo ID card
  • Driving licence/Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate
  • Permanent residence card
  • Social security card
  • Medical/Health card
  • Voter registration card

Information/security items that may appear on documentation

word meaning
bar code a series of thick and thin black lines that holds computerized information
date of birth (DOB) date when the ID holder was born:
day/month/year: 23/05/1970 (23rd May 1970)
month/day/year: 05/23/1970 (23rd May 1970)
year/month/day: 1970/05/23 (23rd May 1970)
date of issue date when documentation was created
eye colour blue, brown, green, black, grey
fingerprint markings of a person’s thumb or finger tip
height how tall a person is in centimetres or feet and inches
hologram a laser photograph which makes a picture or image look life-like
magnetic stripe a long black stripe found on the back of a card that can be swiped into a computer for information
maiden name a woman’s surname before marriage
marital status single, married, divorced (no longer married), separated, common law wife, common law husband
national status citizenship (native citizen, immigrant, landed immigrant, permanent resident, refugee)
photograph recent picture of ID holder
place of birth city, country where ID holder was born
profession current job (doctor, teacher, retired)
serial number or PIN (Personal Identification Number) number that can be entered into government systems to find information about a person
sex M (male), F (female)
signature hand-written name of ID holder
valid until, expiry date the last date when an ID document can be used

Reading Exercise: Identity Fraud

Try this reading exercise about identity fraud:

Good Practice Guide (GPG) 45 helps you decide how to check someone’s identity.


How to prove and verify someone’s identity

Identity profiles

How to prove and verify someone’s identity

This file is in an OpenDocument format

Identity profiles

This file is in an OpenDocument format


This guidance will help you decide how to check someone’s identity. Some existing identity checking services already follow this guidance.

This guidance was written by Government Digital Service (GDS) with help from organisations across the public and private sectors. Key contributors include:

  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Defence (MoD)
  • National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
  • Barclays
  • Digidentity
  • Experian
  • Post Office

This guidance aligns with these international standards and regulations:

This guidance does not explain the practical ways you can check someone’s identity. You’ll need to decide what tools or processes you want to use based on what’s appropriate for your service. For example, you might decide to accept a passport as evidence of someone’s identity if you know:

  • the users of your service are likely to have a passport
  • staff in your organisation have equipment they need to check the document effectively

One of the ways you can follow this guidance to check someone’s identity is by using GOV.UK Verify in your service.

  1. 11 February 2021

The ‘Check if the claimed identity is at high risk of identity fraud’ and ‘Check that the identity belongs to the person who’s claiming it’ sections have been updated. They now include more guidance about what extra checks you can do if you find a claimed identity that’s at high risk of identity fraud or suspected to be a synthetic identity.

22 October 2020

The guidance has been split into 2 parts. The identity profiles are now separate from the rest of the guidance to make it easier for users to find the profile they need. New identity profiles have been added to give users more choice in how they combine the different parts of the identity checking process. Some of the ‘very high’ profiles have been removed as very few organisations or services would actually need that much confidence in someone’s identity. The way ‘activity’ checks are scored has changed. There’s no longer a requirement to know if the type of interactions are typical of that person. These checks are also now called ‘activity history’ checks. Different quality knowledge-based verification (KBV) challenges can now be combined to get a score of 2 for ‘verification’. This means there are more ways to use KBV to link a person to a claimed identity.

The guidance has been given a more active title. The ‘Get evidence of the claimed identity’ section now includes some information about what to do if a piece of evidence contains transposition errors. The ‘Check the evidence is genuine or valid’ section now explains that digital evidence will always get at least a score of 2. In the same section, the requirements needed for evidence that contains digital information have been updated to take into account things like information found in databases. The guidance about identity profiles has been updated to clarify that you do not need to add up the individual scores within a profile to come up with a total.

17 December 2019

The definition of valid has been updated in the ‘Check the evidence is genuine or valid’ section. Checking a piece of evidence has not expired, cancelled or been reported as lost or stolen used to be things you could do as part of the ‘valid’ check. These are now listed as separate checks. It’s now clearer that you do not need to check if a piece of evidence has been cancelled, lost or stolen to get a score of 2 or 3.

The guidance has been rewritten in plain English so it’s easy for both technical and non-technical users to understand. The annexes from the previous version have been removed and the information from them added to the guidance. Examples of how checks can be done have been added throughout the guidance. Information about checking someone’s biometric information has been added to the ‘Check that the identity belongs to the person who’s claiming it (‘verification’)’ section. The ‘Identity profiles’ section has been expanded. The new identity profiles will make it easier to check the identities of users who do not have much evidence of their identity.

Replaced the old version of Good Practice Guide 45 (version 2.3) with the latest version of the Good Practice Guide 45 (version 3).

Judge Larry Primeaux’s Blog about Practice in Mississippi’s Chancery Courts.

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Admitting a Document into Evidence, Step by Step

It can be daunting for young lawyers to tiptoe through the evidentiary minefield of the courtroom, but perhaps the most intimidating of all is to get a document into evidence, a process fraught with objections and roadblocks.

If you can understand the process, step by step, you can plan it out to navigate the expected hurdles. For purposes of this post, the term “document” used here includes all objects identified in MRE 1001 (1) and (2), as well as all tangible items that can be offered into evidence.

Here is the procedure, step by step:

  1. Hand the document to the witness, and, at the same time, hand a copy to counsel opposite . The attorney on the other side has the right to examine anything you hand to a witness. It’s also required that you furnish him or her a copy per Uniform Chancery Court Rule (UCCR) 3.5. Some judges prefer that you hand the document first to the court reporter and have it marked for identification before handing it to the witness, but I have found that to be a minority. Sometimes counsel opposite may object to admission of the document before you have even offered it. The simple response is that the objection is premature because you have not yet offered the document into evidence.
  2. Ask the witness to identify it . The witness must know what the document is and be able to identify it. MRE 602. The answer is merely an description of what the document is (e.g., “This is one of my bank statements,” or “this is an invoice I received”). At this stage, it is not proper for the witness to testify as to the content or meaning of the document; the witness can only testify to what the document is. lf the witness does not know at all what it is, then attempt to refresh or restore recollection, via MRE 612, 613, 801(d), or 803(5), If your efforts are unsuccessful to have the witness identify the document, proceed to Step 10.
  3. Establish how the document is relevant . Ask whether this document relates to the mortgage debt, or the parties’ income and taxes, or hospital bills, or whatever is at issue in the case (e.g., “This is my March bank statement for the joint account that Kevin wrote the $10,000 check on”). MRE 401 and 402. If relevance can not be established, proceed to Step 10.
  4. Establish authenticity . This can be convoluted, but the rules are pretty clear on how to do it. MRE 901 and 902. You can avoid difficulty with this part by sending Requests for Admission (MRCP 36) asking the other side to admit the authenticity and admissibility of the document(s); if they deny, then file a motion asking the court to get them to admit it, and for your resulting costs. Most competent, ethical attorneys will recognize the futility of making you drag someone like a telephone company or bank employee to court only to establish authenticity when it is clear that the document is what it appears to be. If you can not establish authenticity, proceed to Step 10.
  5. Establish any hearsay exemption or exception . Probably the most-objected-to area. If you know in advance that there will be hearsay objection(s), prepare in advance to meet them with specific exceptions to cite and, if possible, case citations. MRE 803 and 804 offer a multitude of ways around the rule. If you can not find a way around hearsay, go to Step 10.
  6. Satisfy the “Best Evidence Rule .” An explanation of the Best Evidence Rule can be found here, and some suggestions for dealing with it can be found here. In a nutshell, the rule provides that, if you are trying to prove the content of a document, you must produce the original, unless you can establish that the original is lost, not obtainable, or is in the possession of your opponent, or relates only to a collateral issue. MRE 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006, and 1007. Again, you can avoid some unpleasantness with this via Requests for Admission (MRCP 36). If you trip and fall here, proceed to Step 10.
  7. Offer the document into evidence . “I offer this document into evidence, your honor,” is all you need to say. Be prepared to meet any objection. If the court overrules the objection(s) and orders that it be admitted, proceed to Step 8. If the court rules that it is inadmissible, proceed to Step 10.
  8. Hand the document to the court reporter and stop talking . Hand the document to the court reporter and be quiet while the court reporter marks it as an exhibit. You do not need to instruct the reporter on what exhibit number to give it, or how to mark it; that is the judge’s prerogative. The court reporter will either hand the exhibit to the judge or give it back to you when he or she is finished, and you may then proceed to Step 9.
  9. Continue with questioning the witness, if desired . If you need more testimony from the witness about the document or its contents, you can go on from there. The witness will need to have a copy of the exhibit from which to testify. But remember that if you take the original from the judge, the judge will not know what you are talking about. You had better either leave the original with the judge and provide the witness with a copy, or have a copy to provide the court to follow along with your examination, per UCCR 3.05. Remember, too, to always refer to the exhibit’s number when questioning a witness about it, or your record will be hopelessly unintelligible.
  10. If the court rules your document inadmissible . If the court sustains a hearsay objection, for example, first offer another exception as an alternative. If that fails, offer another. If you feel the judge is wrong based on a specific case, offer that case and ask the judge to reconsider based on that authority. If your efforts are unsuccessful, ask that the document be marked “for identification purposes only,” per MRCP 103(a)(2). That request will never be denied if you made a bone fide effort to get the document into evidence. You may still be able to get the document into evidence through the testimony of another, later witness, but if you cannot, the document is in the record for appeal purposes; if you do not have it marked for identification purposes only, it will not be in the record for appeal. You may try later to file a post-trial motion to supplement the record if you neglected to get the document in at the trial, but you will not likely get any relief if the trial judge is not satisfied that there was sufficient testimony of the witness about it, or the judge did not have an opportunity to examine it and rule on it.

Be prepared and be successful. A selection of other helpful posts on topic:

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Printable Word and Excel Templates

How to ask for identification

Identity Verification Letter

An identity verification letter is a letter that is sent to a citizen asking him/her to verify that they are the real bearer of the given identity. Identity verification requires you to either complete a verification process online or send additional information. Most commonly, this letter is sent from the department of revenue when you file tax returns but the returns have been flagged due to incomplete information or any other issue.

However, Identity verification letter is an important document that is issued for safeguarding the rights of citizens. It helps prevent tax fraud and identity theft.

Often fraudulent people attempt to steal the identity of another person and try impersonating them for personal gains. They do this to benefit from employment, financial gains or tax refund etc. that is due to another person. The letter is issued by the employer, a bank or regulating authority such as the IRS.

It is important to know that the identity verification letters sent by IRS to investigate incomplete tax returns are always sent by post. They are never emailed to you. The IRS also does not call to verify your identity. Always beware of scam emails and phone calls asking you to verify your identity.

Other uses of identity verification letters are for employment purposes or bank loans. Often when you apply for a job, the future employer may ask for identity verification by asking you to get a verification letter from the previous employer or the public office.

Similarly, a college student applying for a job or claiming to be a student of a certain university may be asked to produce a letter of verification from the college stating he/she is indeed a student of that college/university.

Finally, if you are applying for a loan, you may be asked to produce an identity verification letter that it is really you who are applying for a loan and not someone on your behalf.

There is no fixed format for an identity verification letter, except that you may use formal language and keep it short. Never confuse an identity verification letter with a character verification letter.

All you need to specify in the letter is:

  • Your name and company
  • Your contact details
  • Verification of the concerned individual

Here is a sample letter for writing an identity verification letter:

Sample letter

Subject: Verification letter

To whom it may concern,

This is to verify that [enter name of applicant] bearing identification number [enter national identity number] has been working at [enter company name] for the past four years. He/she joined the company on [enter date] as a [enter initial position] and is currently working as [same or enter current position]. He/she is working on as a permanent/contractual employee with a current salary of $[enter amount].

Please consider this letter as verification for [enter name of person]’s identity. You may contact me for further details by phone at [enter number] or by email at [enter email].

This letter may only be used for identity verification and under no circumstances should be substituted as a character certificate.

Most employers should not ask whether or not a job applicant is a United States citizen before making an offer of employment. The INA requires employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all employees hired after November 6, 1986, by completing the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Form, and reviewing documents showing the employee’s identity and employment authorization. Other state and federal laws require some employers to use E-Verify. Federal law prohibits employers from rejecting valid documents or insisting on additional documents beyond what is required for the Form I-9 or E-Verify processes, based on an employee’s citizenship status or national origin. For example, an employer cannot require only those who the employer perceives as “foreign” to produce specific documents, such as Permanent Resident (“green”) cards or Employment Authorization Documents. Employees are allowed to choose which documents to show for employment eligibility verification from the Form I-9 Lists of Acceptable Documents. Employers should accept any unexpired document from the Lists of Acceptable Documents so long as the document appears reasonably genuine on its face and relates to the employee.

Federal law also prohibits employers from conducting the Form I-9 and E-Verify processes before the employee has accepted an offer of employment. Applicants may be informed of these requirements in the pre-employment setting by adding the following statement on the employment application:

“In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification form upon hire.”

E-Verify employers must use the system consistently and without regard to the citizenship, immigration status, or national origin of employees. They must also notify every employee who receives a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) and should not make assumptions about employment authorization based on the TNC issuance. If an employee contests a TNC, employers cannot fire, suspend, modify a work schedule, delay job placement or otherwise take any adverse action against the employee just because the employee received a TNC.

As stated above, the INA prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of national origin by smaller employers (with four to 14 employees). The INA prohibits retaliation against individuals for asserting their rights under the INA, or for filing a charge or assisting in an investigation or proceeding under the INA. Discrimination charges under the INA are processed by the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. For more information, contact IER at the numbers below (9:00 am-5:00 pm ET, Monday-Friday) or visit IER’s website. Calls can be anonymous and in any language:

Not only do process servers have a number of duties and responsibilities when service of process goes as planned, but when service becomes difficult these responsibilities increase exponentially. It is of utmost importance that process servers ensure that their service adheres to both state law and their clients’ instructions so as to be valid. Failure to do so can result in a number of problems such as increased costs and time for both the client and the server. Accordingly, ensuring that the party who is to be served actually is the person served oftentimes requires thinking outside of the box when faced with a difficult target.

While it is fairly obvious that it is beneficial to get as much information from the client as to the target’s physical appearance, demeanor, daily habits or routines, vehicles, or other important traits, sometimes the server is not privy to such information and is forced to rely upon his or own persistence, quick thinking, and creativity.

If the intended recipient is aware of impending service and has a cursory knowledge of the procedure but does not wish to be served, delivery becomes a game of cat and mouse. A process server should always assume that the intended target is at the location and not simply ask. This authoritativeness sets the stage for any further communication that ensues and ensures that the server acts with confidence. Such confidence presents a greater likelihood of a successful serve than would likely be the case without it.

Surveillance is a common tactic, but this is sometimes not feasible when working within time constraints. Many process servers develop their own techniques for identifying subjects, and you likely have an arsenal of tricks, but we’ve put together a quick list of 10 tips to identify someone who may be evading service.

10 Tips for Verifying the Identity of a Difficult Subject

  1. First and foremost, neighbors are perhaps the best source of information about a target. A wealth of information can be gleaned from talking with neighbors, such as whether the target is home, working hours, type of vehicle driven, and other valuable information. In rare cases, a neighbor may be cooperative to the point that he or she calls the server when the target is actually home so as to further facilitate service.
  2. If a server sees an individual who may be the intended target, calling out the person’s name to see if they answer is fairly logical. This can be done while the person is in a yard, in a public area at his or her workplace, or even walking down a sidewalk or at a store. It is difficult to deny being a particular individual when one just answered to his or her name.
  3. Asking for someone other than the intended target when the potential target answers the door—such as a neighbor—and then asking the target for his or her name for the server’s report will likely enable the server to get a target to self-identify because the focus of attention will be shifted to someone else. This can also be done by asking for a completely fictitious person as well.
    1. Another variation on this involves the server telling whoever opens the door that he or she has a very important delivery or, simply, important papers for a resident at the address and then to ask for the person’s name. If the person refuses to give his or her name then the server can say something to the effect of, “Well, I will have to advise the court that it can proceed without so-and-so but it doesn’t look very good for that person.” In some cases, if the target is indeed speaking to the server then they will self-identify to avoid further trouble.
  4. Establishing a friendly rapport with the intended target by casual conversation can oftentimes lead to his or her own self-identification, or provide the server enough opportunities to verify the person’s identity by catching them in a lie.
  5. This tip is particularly useful and one that may not be considered as much as it should be. Look for the target—particularly if the person has a relatively uncommon name—on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace for a picture or further information to facilitate the serve, as chances are good that the person has created a profile on at least one of these sites.
  6. You can consider openly videotaping the service because people are less inclined to lie if they are being recorded.
  7. If a server is relatively certain that the person with whom they are speaking is the target but will not self-identify, saying something akin to, “I have to call my boss for further instructions,” gives the server an opportunity to actually take a picture of the person with a cell phone and send it to the client for identification. Further, as mentioned in #4, the ability to converse with the individual until confirmation of identity occurs is a plus.
  8. If a server is unable to verify the identity of a potential target, asking for identification in a professional and authoritative manner can establish identity. If the individual refuses to provide identification, it is a clue that you should suspect that this person is your subject.
  9. Bluffing can work wonders as well. By stating something like, “Wow, you sure look like the person in the picture I have”—even if there is no picture—can get the target to admit to his or her identify.
  10. If you are having trouble serving someone at their home and they are being difficult, you can leave a note on their door or a voice mail message saying that you plan on serving them at their place of employment (if they are employed). Rather than risk the embarrassment of that situation, people will often consent to be served at home.