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The PASS Scheme

PASS (Proof of Age Standards Scheme)is the UK’s national guarantee scheme for proof-of-age cards which is backed by the Government and supported by authoritative organisations, including the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Trading Standards Institute (TSI). The scheme is also supported by the main Trade Associations connected with those selling age-restricted products.

The PASS scheme was launched in 2003 due to the rise of fake proof-of-age cards and, with the large number of different card schemes in circulation, there was confusion amongst retailers, licensees, security staff and some enforcement agencies over which cards were genuine.

In order to address this confusion, it was agreed that a single recognisable logo would be included on all PASS accredited proof-of-age cards, the PASS logo.

The distinctive and forgery-proof PASS hologram on a card is the hallmark indicating that the card issuer has passed a stringent audit carried out by Trading Standards Officers and that the card may be relied upon. In addition to this, accredited card issuers must pass an annual re-audit process to ensure that that the guidelines set by the Board are adhered to.

There are a range of PASS accredited cards in circulation but they all include the following information:

Date of Birth
A photograph of the card holder
The PASS hologram
A copy of the card holder's signature

There are currently 1.5million PASS accredited cards in circulation with five national and twelve regional card schemes issuing PASS accredited cards across the United Kingdom.

Five Step Checking Process

Step 1 Check the PASS Hologram

Look for the 3D effect in the background of the hologram.
Look for the small PASS text in the background.
The PASS hologram must be flush with the plastic of the card - NOT stuck on top of the plastic.
If in doubt, compare it with a sample card.

Step 2 Check the Photograph

Ensure that the photograph is of the person presenting the card – if necessary, politely ask the person to remove their hood, hat or sunglasses to be sure.
The photograph must be printed directly on to the plastic of the card – NOT stuck on top of the plastic.

Step 3 Check the Date of Birth

Calculate the age of the person from the date of birth.
Make sure they are old enough to buy the goods or services requested.
The date of birth must be printed on to the plastic – NOT stuck on top of the plastic.

Step 4 Check the Card

Ensure that the card has not been tampered with or altered.
Feel the card – it should be completely smooth – NO ridges or anything stuck on to the card.

Step 5 Check the Person

If you are still unsure about a person’s age, your legal responsibility is to refuse to sell.
If you refuse to sell items because you believe that the person is too young, once the person has left, report the incident to your supervisor or manager, and record the details in a 'Refusal Record Book.'


What is PASS?

The Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) is the national proof-of-age accreditation scheme, endorsed by Government, which sets minimum standards for proof-of-age cards.

The Government has endorsed the scheme as it: "believes that the scheme will help sellers of age restricted products to comply with the law and helps to protect young people from the risks posed by the purchase of age restricted goods to which they are not entitled”.

Why was PASS introduced?

*To drive out forgery
*To provide a recognisable national symbol for the ease of those retailers selling age-restricted products.
*To guarantee standards across proof-of-age cards.
*The aim of PASS is to provide:
*Assurance for retailers, enforcers and young people.

How do you recognise PASS?

CARDS issued by PASS accredited schemes carry the distinctive PASS hologram

A PASS accredited proof-of-age card will have the following:
*Date of birth
*Full name
*A passport standard photograph
*An image of the holder’s signature
*A PASS hologram

It is:
*Trademark registered

What does the PASS hologram tell you?

The PASS hologram tells you that, the card provider has undergone a rigorous application and accreditation process and it has been audited by Trading Standards Officers. The card bearing a hologram can be relied upon.

How many card schemes are PASS accredited?

The five national card schemes, eleven local schemes with one more currently undergoing the audit process and virtually every card issued to young people now is a PASS accredited card. Currently 1.5 million cards bearing the PASS logo are in circulation.

What happens next?

Awareness and understanding communicated to both retailers and consumers

PASS have produced revised Q&A guidance for operators about the PASS scheme which you can access below.

For more information visit the PASS website


» PASS Scheme - Questions and Answers