The Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) is the UK’s national proof of age accreditation scheme. It provides minimum standards and criteria for proof of age card issuers to meet. PASS is endorsed by the UK Home Office, the Scottish Government, the National Police Chiefs’ Council – NPCC (formerly the Association of Chief Police Officers – ACPO), the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and the Trading Standards Institute (TSI).
Background and legal status
The PASS Scheme was put together by a group of industry representatives, drawn primarily from the licensed and retail trade in consultation with card scheme operators, trading standards and other stakeholders. It recently became a Community Interest Company, having previously operated through a limited company – PASSCo Ltd. The PASS hologram is a registered trademark which makes any type of forgery a criminal offence.
The PASS Board is made up of an Independent Chairman and representatives of two trade associations representing proof of age acceptors and two card issuers, one commercial and one public sector.
Chief Executive, The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR)
Chief Executive, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)
Chief Executive, Citizencard
A robust and diverse group of card issuers issuing PASS cards recognised universally benefits everyone: young people (both 18+ and under-18) able to apply for and use a cost-effective, easy-to-replace ID; retailers confident in asking for valid ID knowing it will be presented; police, Passport Agency and DVLA reassured that passports & driving licences are used only for their intended purpose; and government in knowing that legislation on age-restricted goods and services is adhered to and supported by retailers and their customers.
PASS is run by a non-profit company owned both by retail trade organisations and card issuers. It is funded by trade bodies each contributing a flat-rate £5,000pa and by Issuers contributing proportionate to their market share a sum between £750 and £20,000pa. The Board sets the budget and determines staffing and workflow. A Chairman is being sought to head a Board comprising two trade Directors and two Issuer Directors.
The Proof of Age Standards Scheme accredits UK proof of age card issuers to a standard endorsed by the Home Office, Scottish Government, police and retailers of age-restricted goods & services. PASS’s goal is to achieve universal acceptance of cards bearing the trademarked PASS hologram as retailers’ preferred proof of age.
Audit and Accreditation
Each PASS card produced is issued only after a stringent check of the applicant’s identity to ensure that the card is issued to the person whose details appear on the card. PASS audits each card issuer biennially and new issuers need to pass an audit before they can start issuing cards. The audit function is currently contracted to the chartered Trading Standards Institute (cTSI).11 issuers are currently accredited: 5 UK-wide issuers (CitizenCard, Civiliancard, MyIDCard, Oneid4u, ValidateUK), Scottish issuer Young Scot and 5 English local authorities (Bracknell Forest, Essex, Milton Keynes, Sandwell, Southwark). Around 200,000 cards were issued in 2015/16 and a target of 300,000 is set for 16/17.The Board’s Audit Committee manages the audit function, can demand a re-audit and confers (or removes) accreditation from issuers on receipt of the auditors’ report and the issuer’s response.An Issuer Director chairs the PASS Audit Standards Committee (comprising issuers, trade and auditors) responsible for reviewing the PASS audit standard on an annual basis with revised standards applicable to all issuers that balance the need for robustness with ease-of-use by potential card applicants. Developing a standard for online applications is a priority.
Card Acceptance & Awareness
Another principal duty for PASS is to ensure that cards, once issued, are then accepted as valid ID by all retailers of age-restricted goods and services. Acceptance rates vary across trade sectors and communication about the benefits of accepting PASS cards, especially in preference to passports, is an essential and ongoing task. Both trade bodies and issuers have a role to play in achieving this, and support from government and enforcement agencies is vital.A Trade Director chairs the PASS Card Acceptance & Awareness Committee (comprising trade, issuers and observers) responsible for reviewing the process for investigating card refusals and developing a communications programme about the benefits of PASS to the trade and to young people.