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What is Age Verification?

What is Age Verification?
Jun 13, 2024 Rory Traynor Updated On: June 13, 2024

Age verification is the process used by businesses to confirm an individual's age, usually used in relation to age-restricted goods or services.

Many companies are required by law to undergo some form of age verification as part of their sales process. Where this process was once exclusively manual and required face to face transactions, advances in technology now mean that age-restricted goods and services can be purchased online without a business ever physically seeing their client.

Age verification also has wider applications in general anti-money laundering (AML) and identity verification processes.

Below we will breakdown what age verification is, why it’s needed, and how it can be done.

What is age verification?

Age verification is the process of confirming and individuals age. In its most simplistic form it is a member of staff visually assessing if the customer seems above age and asking to see an identity document if not, such as purchasing alcohol at a shop.

There are now multiple technological solutions for identity verification that offer a much higher degree of accuracy and do not require a face to face interaction with the customer.

Age verification procedures are usually deployed in the sale of age-restricted goods or services, but is increasingly becoming a part of AML and identity verification processes.

Why is it required?

Legislation around age-restricted goods and services requires that the customers age is confirmed prior to any sale.

This is not contained within one specific piece of legislation, instead whether a good or service is age-restricted is dictated by its relevant regulations, bill or act. Examples of which are:

  • Online Safety Bill
  • Licensing Act 2003
  • The Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016
  • Gambling Act

Whilst most brick and mortar businesses still rely on manual verification, online businesses offering age-restricted items require a technological solution.

In fact, without the ability to effectively ensure that they are not placing underage consumers at risk these goods and services would not be able to be offered online.

For companies with AML or identity verification requirements age verification is a useful tool and more advanced software will include it as part of a digital check.

Is age verification effective?

This depends on the technique that is used.

Unsurprisingly, manual methods are by far the least effective. People are generally easy to fool and most techniques that exist to beat age verification rely on the process being manual.

Technological solutions are extremely accurate. There are several different ways in which technology verifies age which we will look at below.

Red Flag Alert uses multiple different methods that confirm an individuals age as part of our AML and identity verification checks.


Manual method

This simply involves the vendor assessing the customers age and asking to see an ID if they suspect they are too young. This method is by far the least reliable as people are much easier to deceive, some individuals look much younger/older than others, and the person conducting the verification may simply decide not to follow the required procedure.

Facial recognition

This method involves the customer taking a selfie and possibly also performing a liveness check, this is then run against a database of ID images to confirm the person is who they say they are.

Fingerprint recognition

An individual scans their fingerprint which is then run against a database of fingerprints. This then returns their identity and age. The weakness of this method is that there are relatively few countries that keep databases of fingerprints large enough for this to have mass utility.

Document verification

A photo is taken of an individual’s ID document (passport, drivers license etc.), the software analyses that the document is not a forgery authentic and then runs the information against the relevant database.

Document verification & facial recognition

One of the most accurate methods possible. By combining document verification and facial recognition it is possible to confirm that a persons ID document is real and that person is the one pictured on said document. This method is used by Red Flag Alert.

The advantages of using technology in age verification

Age verification software offers your business a significantly more accurate method of verifying your customers ages. This not only protects vulnerable young people from accessing things they shouldn’t but also protects your business from fines or prosecution for accidentally breaking any laws around age-restriction.

Red Flag Alert provides further protection by automatically keeping a digital audit trail of all checks that you perform, so you can evidence your compliance to regulators.

Red Flag Alert offers a fully digital IDV solution that will verify your customers ages and also confirm their identity. Our checks are highly accurate, sent in your full branding, and your customers complete them in 60 seconds directly on their device. Protect your business and customers today - get a free trial today. 



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