Licences and permissions Underage sales


It is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18.

Staff under the age of 18 must not sell alcohol without knowledge of the sale by the owner, designated premises supervisor or other employee over 18.

If you are not sure that the customer is 18, ask for proof of age.

Some shops operate a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 scheme, and request ID to prove that the customer is 21 or 25. This can significantly reduce the likelihood of selling to a underaged person.

If you are still unsure, you should refuse the sale.  You may wish to record the details in a refusals register to show that you are refusing sales.

It is illegal for anyone to attempt to purchase alcohol under the age of 18.

It is illegal for a person over 18 to buy alcohol for a person under the age of 18 (proxy purchase).

If you sell alcohol to a person under 18 your premises licence or personal licence may be at risk.

Only recognised forms of identification should be accepted such as a PASS accredited proof of age card with hologram, photo driving licence or passport.

It is advisable to ensure that your staff are fully trained in order to prevent them making sales of age restricted products. Any training they receive should be documented within a record of training form.

All alcohol sales must be authorised in person by a personal licence holder (the Designated Premises Supervisor will be one).  If there is no personal licence holder on the premises then the Designated Premises must provide authorisation to the member of staff to sell alcohol in their absence (see written authorisation form for this purpose).

You commit an offence if:

  • you or your employees sell alcohol to a person under 18 or liqueur chocolates to a person under 16;
  • a member of staff under 18 sells alcohol without the knowledge of the owner, designated premises supervisor or an employee who is over 18; or
  • you are under 18 and you sell alcohol without the appropriate supervision.

Reporting underage sales

If you suspect a retailer of selling any of these products to anyone under the minimum age, please report them via Citizens Advice Bureau. They manage the national Consumer Advice Service, and staff there assess each problem and pass it on to the relevant body, such as Trading Standards.

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