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Checking ID

Age Identification

Why check ID?

  • As a server it's up to you to determine whether your guests are 19 years of age or older.
  • In Ontario it's illegal for licensed establishments to serve alcohol to anyone under 19 years.
  • Serving alcohol to under-aged guests, besides being against the law, is an offence under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) and can lead to charges by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and the police.
  • You and your establishment can be sued and /or fined. Your employer's Liquor Licence can also be suspended or revoked.

When to check ID?

  • When a person looks younger than 25 years of age.
  • Body language or behaviour is unusual, for example avoiding eye contact or trying to rush the process.

Acceptable ID

  • Valid provincial driver's licence or out-of-province photo driver's licence
  • Armed forces identification card
  • Valid Passport
  • Certificate of Indian status
  • Canadian citizenship card
  • Permanent resident card issued by Government of Canada
  • Photo card issued under the Photo Card Act, 2008
  • Bring Your Identification (BYID) card issued by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario 
  • Always ask for one or more pieces of government-issued photo ID
  • NEVER accept student cards or expired ID

How to check ID:

  • Examine in a well-lit area
  • Tilt the ID under light to see all of the reflective seals and holograms flash
  • Check the overall condition of the card – minors often use the expired license of a family member or friend
  • Visually and manually confirm that the ID's size, weight and shape are normal and that the photo, lettering and lamination haven't been switched, altered or tampered with
  • Check for uneven surfaces and edges as well as cuts or bubbles in the laminate

What to check:

  • Does the person actually look old enough to be the person on the ID?
  • Does the ID verify that the person is over the legal drinking age
  • If the colours are dull/faded or if the birth or expiry dates look scratched, or appear to have been tampered with – do not accept the ID
  • Are the letters in the same font and same size of font?
  • Beware of misspelled words or disclaimers
  • Compare ID photo and description- height, weight, eye and hair colour are the most likely and easiest to change, pay attention to the shape and size of the facial features.
  • Ontario Drivers Licence picture is in black and white – consider checking other features such as: shape of face, cheek bone structure
  • Ontario Drivers Licence states height in cm-if not familiar with this unit of measurement – know your own height both in inches and cm for comparison
  • Keep on file a copy of a current legitimate ID available for comparison's sake
  • In Ontario the health card can only be used as secondary piece of ID and can only be acceptable if offered
What to do when the Person & ID Aren't a Real Match:

As a server, it is your right and responsibility to ask for additional ID if you have any concerns about the identification that has been presented to you. If you still have doubts about the validity of the ID you might want to consider asking the following questions:

  • What is your birthday?
  • How do you spell your middle name?
  • What is your postal code? Your street address?
  • Ask the person to sign a blank sheet of paper and compare the signature to the one on the ID.
  • Again, pay attention to body language and behaviour

For more information about Acceptable forms of Id visit