PASS, the scheme that audits and accredits proof of age schemes to assure retailers of which cards they can accept, is asking for views on how digital proof of age should be presented and verified.

The group has published a consultation paper open to anyone who has a view on this subject, and particularly aimed at digital proof of age, technology and data experts, public sector and enforcement bodies and groups working with young people.

The key elements of the proposed solution include: verification of valid digital proof of age through the retailer scanning a QR code on the customer’s phone; the retailer being able to programme common codes into their till system, or as a minimum to download a free app to use on their own phone; no exchange of data from the customer to the retailer; a defined focus on using digital proof of age in a physical retail environment, not online; and mirroring of the same PASS standard for verifying the age of an applicant before a physical card is issued, for digital proof of age companies.

PASS chair, Baroness McIntosh, said: “Twenty years ago, retailers said they were confused by the multitude of proof of age cards, and so they set up PASS to audit schemes, accredit those that met the highest standards, and give guidance to retailers on how to tell which cards to accept.

“Now, we face exactly the same challenge with digital proof of age: consumers want to prove their age through their phone, and retailers need to know how to verify that the information they are shown is valid and relates to the person in front of them.

 “A robust, practical and universal set of standards will allow companies offering digital proof of age to develop in the knowledge that their schemes will be accepted by retailers and endorsed as valid proof of age by enforcement bodies, and allow retailers of all kinds to train their colleagues to accept only valid proof of age, following a defined process for verifying digital proof of age when they are presented with it.

“We have worked on a set of standards that we think meet these needs, but we want to hear from all interested parties to ensure that the PASS digital proof of age standards are effective. I would encourage everyone who has an interest in this important challenge to respond to the consultation and help us create the best system we can.”

Currently retailers can accept digital proof of age but it cannot be used to verify age for the sale of alcohol.

Once the responses have been collated the work will be delegated to a standards working group chaired by James Lowman, chief executive of Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and ACS is using its survey platform for administering the process. The consultation is being managed by an independent consultant, Katharine Walters, who has been appointed by the PASS board.

The consultation, which will run until April 30, 2020, welcomes views from all interested parties via this link:

For any queries please contact Katharine at