Selling age restricted products

How we protect children and young people by enforcing the law to prohibit underage sales of age restricted products.

We work to ensure that traders have procedures and resources in place to prevent sales to underage children.

Working closely with Suffolk Constabulary and licensing authorities, we carry out covert test purchase operations on businesses who sell age restricted products.

Using volunteers, often between the ages of 15 and 17, we carry out test purchases of age restricted products to ensure shops and businesses are complying with the law.

Steps to prevent underage sales

As a trader or business owner you are responsible for ensuring that you and your staff do not engage in underage sales. 


  • Ensure all staff are trained in the sale of age restricted products
  • Keep written records of the training you have provided to staff (sign and date these records)
  • Review all staff training on a regular basis and provide re-training to staff where necessary 

Refusals record

  • Keep a refusals book to record refusals made by staff (noting the date, details of refused person, and reason of refusal)
  • Ensure that a manager or senior person reviews the refusals book regularly to ensure it is being completed (and take corrective action where it isn't being completed)

ID policy

  • Consider adopting a "No ID, no sale" policy requiring staff to ask everyone who looks underage for proof of age before a sale
  • Implement a "Challenge 21" or "Challenge 25" (PDF, 34KB) policy to make it easier for staff to identify underage purchases
  • Advertise clearly (PDF, 100KB) that you will be asking for identification from those who look underage

Proof of age

Suffolk Trading Standards support 3 main types of proof of age identification: 

  • photo driving licenses
  • passports
  • PASS cards bearing the PASS hologram 

When you are checking identification: 

  • take the ID from the customer (don't examine it from a distance)
  • take the ID out of any holder it may be in - this will often show up poorly made fake cards
  • see if it is flimsy or too rigid - this could indicate a photocopy or ID that has been taped over
  • make sure that the person in front of you is the same as in the photograph
  • take note of whether the ID is a valid or provisional driving license, a National Identity Card or European Driving Permit
  • read the date of birth carefully (you can also ask the customer to tell you - there is a good chance they will struggle if they are lying)
  • see if the card has a swipe strip on the back (if it does, it is unlikely that this is a genuine ID card as no UK ID cards have strips on them)
  • take your time, even if you are busy 

Business Companion provides a guide to underage sales. it covers the age restrictions that apply to the sale of certain products and services, including alcohol, tobacco, blades, solvents and sunbeds, as well as offering advice on how to prevent underage sales.

Report underage sales

If you are aware of businesses selling age restricted products to underage customers please report them.

To do this contact us via Citizens Advice Consumer Service by phoning 03454 040506.

Any information you give will be treated in the utmost confidence.

Call us on 01473 264859 from 9am to 5pm or email