Licences and permissions Underage sales

Knives, axes and blades

It is an offence to sell any knife to a person under 18, or to sell them any similar item, which is made or adapted for use for causing injury to a person. (There is an exemption for folding pocket knives with a blade less than 3 inches long and razor blades in a sealed cartridge with less than 2mm of the single edge blade exposed).

If you do not believe the customer is over 18 (or 21 if a Challenge 21 policy is in place) ask for proof of age such as a passport, photo driving licence or a PASS accredited proof of age card.

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

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.

It is an offence to market a knife in a way that suggests it is suitable for combat, or otherwise encourage behaviour involving the use of the knife as a weapon.

You may commit an offence if:

  • you sell a knife to an under 18
  • you market a knife which suggests it could be used as a weapon
  • you sell a flick knife

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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