Start the new year as you mean to go on: Brush up on your alcohol selling law

Tuesday, 9 February 2016  |  Admin

Start the new year as you mean to go on: Brush up on your alcohol selling law

January may have been a bit of a quieter month for some retailers with people trying to save money and be healthier by cutting down the booze. During quieter times, it’s always a good idea to make sure you and your team are up to date with the rules, regulations and guidance around selling alcohol. The consequences of not following the law could be disastrous – if you’re found selling alcohol to someone under 18 you can receive an unlimited fine, with a minimum fine of £200.

But don’t panic – you can significantly lower the risk of breaking the law by making sure you’re aware of the following…

Age verification policies

Having an age verification policy is essential – without one you risk a fine of up to £20,000 and/or six months imprisonment. For selling alcohol, it is suggested to follow the ‘challenge 25’ guidelines – that is, ask for ID from anyone who looks 25 or younger. It’s advised to clearly show your formal age verification around your shop and there are posters, banners, badges and other point of sale displays available to help you do this.

Suitable forms of ID

When asking for ID, you must make sure it contains the customer’s photograph, date of birth and a holographic mark. Common forms of suitable ID include passport, photo driver’s licence or a PASS accredited proof of age card. Don’t be fooled if the customer tries to show you something like a National Insurance or bank card – these do not prove that they are old enough to buy alcohol!

Training packages

There are nationally accredited, low-cost training packages available. You can choose a training format that suits you and your team – for example, distance learning, e-learning, in the classroom or even get a trainer to come out to your store. Make sure your training is accredited and recognised by the industry, local authorities and the police. Not only will completing relevant training courses teach you everything you need to know about selling age restricted products, but it could provide you with a due diligence if you or one of your team accidently slip up and sell alcohol to someone underage.

Mystery shopping

If you want to check how well you and your staff are doing when it comes to complying with the law and guidelines, you could use a mystery shopping service.

Mystery shoppers, who are typically 18 or 19 years old, will be sent into your shop to try and purchase an age restricted product – for example, alcohol. You and your staff will be marked on a number of key areas including if you had suitable signage displayed in your store and if you requested to see the customer’s ID. As well as highlighting any areas of potential risk, using a mystery shopping service can also complement your due diligence. 

Do you have any questions about selling alcohol? Give us a call on 0345 257 0018 or email