Acceptable documents for citizens of the UK

Unlike most of Europe, the UK has no formal national ID card and no legal requirement for any form of photo-ID (albeit you won’t be able to drive unless you still have an old style paper only licence, you won’t be able to travel overseas etc) … and the nearest the UK has to a national ID number is the “National Insurance Number” – which is used extensively by the UK Government as a key to ID for all sorts of purposes, including tax, pensions, social security etc. It is not used, however, for either passports or driving licence as far as I am aware.

There are three primary sources of information for requirements for Identity Checking in the UK

These are the UK Passport Office, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - formerly the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). The first two are well known, and their criteria are well established - in general the submission of a passport (which can be done electronically) or the submission of a birth/adoption certificate along with a photo endorsed by a traceable third party.

The role of the DBS is more pervasive than many people realise (many employers run DBS/CRB checks as routine nowadays) and their process is both well established and fairly robust. Amongst other things, the DBS is responsible for overseeing the validation of the identity of those who work with children and vulnerable adults ie the like of teachers, social workers, care workers, doctors and nurses.

In particular, you may find the document at Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously CRB checks) of interest as it provides a complete list of the documents acceptable to the Criminal Records Bureau.

All the “Group 1” documents are now “photo-id” with the exception of the Birth certificate. It is worth noting that anyone can request a copy of an UK Birth certificate (they are often wanted by genealogical researchers!) so I personally would not accept either of them as a “primary” ID document anyway. It is also worth noting that there are still people with valid non-photo ID drivers licenses. Many of these group 1 documents do not include date of birth and would thus need strong secondary ID to provide this (ie Birth Certificate) For further discussion and examples of these, check UK Group 1 documents

The “Group 2” documents are more varied, and (arguably) less “rigorous” – but are necessary for the CRB’s requirement for current address verification. In particular the Group 2a documents are regarded as "trusted"! Some may not be regarded as acceptable documents under CACert's policies so care needs to be taken as to which are regarded as suitable.

One of the benefits of this list is that it establishes a period of validity (3 months, 12 months or indefinitely) for any of the documents included on it - which I believe is an useful reference.

As a “rule of thumb” – I’d be looking for one of the “group 1” photo-ids (I strongly prefer a passport as it has the most rigorous checks!) and two other documents from either list with at least one of the documents confirming the date of birth. It is worth noting that the UK Driving License includes (possibly in an “encrypted” format) the date of birth whether photo-card or paper.

There are also some interesting documents around that are not on the Group 1 list but might get offered as possible photo-id...

The first of these is the disabled person’s “Blue Badge”.example This is a laminated card bearing a photo of the holder and embeds some limited security features. It can be argued that this is a government issued photo-id – and thereby qualifies as a primary ID – but there are few (if any) checks on whether the photo actually matches the owner. My personal opinion is that it should be regarded as a “document of last resort” as a primary ID – I might take it as it is quite possible that a person who is sufficiently disabled to qualify for one may well be neither a driver or an overseas traveller and therefore have neither of the two most common photo-ids (beware of discrimination under the definitions of the UK Equality Act 2010). (If this were the case, I’d also expect the secondary IDs to be very “solid” before considering awarding maximum points!) - I would, however, normally accept it as a secondary ID without a problem. Note that the format of "blue badges" issued after 1/Jan/2012 has changed - the new format is a plastic card with digital photo included on the rear.example

The (Government issued) concessionary bus pass is a similar document. It is a laminated credit card sized card that includes some security measures and a smart chip. example This card exists in two variants - over-60s (blue stripe on right of card) and disabled people (orange stripe on right of card) and the issuing council and it's logo at the top of the card may vary. This has some checking, but only includes first and last name and has no date of birth. In general I would treat this in the same manner as a "Blue Badge"

Another interesting document is the Police Officer's warrant card example- the UK police forces have stringent security checks on their serving officers and it is again (arguably) a government issued photo-id with security features. I would probably regard this as an acceptable photo-id - but as there is no Date of Birth included, it would need something like a birth certificate to back it up. (I was once presented with one for a Thawte notarisation!) I would have no issues with this as a secondary ID.

A final issue is that of a legal name change - most commonly due to a change in marital status. In this case, I think a ruling is going to be needed since there may be documents presented in the old name. I believe that in this case if the appriate certificate(s) is/are supplied enabling the tracking of the old and new names, documents in the old name(s) should be regarded as acceptable.... One particular area that is going to be problematic is where date of birth needs to be established as a Birth Certificate is always going to be in the oldest "pre-change" name!

Suggested procedure for primary id documents other than Passport or Photo Driver Licence


Identify the primary ID and record what the document is on the rear of the CAP form including any deficiency (usually no Date of Birth)


Identify secondary ID to cover the deficiency from (1.) (usually birth/adoption certificate) and record what the document is on the rear of the CAP form along with any deficiency (eg name change - in which case also record the name the document is in)


Identify document to confirm change of name. Record what the document is on the rear of the CAP form. If you can identify the old and new names add a statement to the rear of the form along the lines of "I confirm that this document shows a change of name from [old name] to [new name]" and repeat (3.) as necessary to establish a chain from the name on the deficient document in (2.) to the name on the primary ID (1.)

Would any/all of these processes require a dispute filing either as a general requirement or to establish precedent??? (Note that this suggested procedure mirrors the process that the CRB use (albeit slightly modified to allow for the fact that CACert do not retain copies of documents), they are "trackable" and, as far as I can see, follow the requirements laid down in the Assurance Policy) Alex Robertson

AcceptableDocuments/UnitedKingdom (last edited 2018-10-27 11:33:03 by arobertson)