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Underage sales

Why are some products age restricted?

Certain products present genuine risks to the health and welfare of children and teenagers. Legislation has been put in place to restrict the sale of these products because of the growing concern about them.

To report the underage sale of alcohol by a shop or public house or restaurant please call 01634 333333.

Traders' responsibilities

Traders must comply with the law. Failure to do so can result in prosecution and substantial fines. In most cases the maximum fine for making an illegal sale of an age-restricted product is £5,000.

How should traders protect themselves?

There are several checks and measures that you can put into place to protect yourself from prosecution if you are a trader.

  • If you are not sure of your customer's age, ask.
  • You should always ask them to produce a reliable form of proof of age, such as a passport or a driving licence with a photograph.
  • Never accept a birth certificate or a National Insurance card as proof of age. National Insurance cards are issued before a person has reached their sixteenth birthday.
  • Keep a refusals register. This is a record of all of the times that you refuse to sell an age restricted product. Details kept in the register should be a description of the person, their name and address (if you know it), their age, the date and time of the attempted purchase and the type of product that was requested.
  • Display all age restriction notices prominently. You can get these from the Trading Standards Team. Train all of your staff on the law and hand out written instructions on the checks that should be carried out.
  • Keep a training register for each member of staff and keep it up to date. Ask staff to sign a copy of the instructions that they receive, to show that they have understood them. Ask them to sign their training register as well.

Age-restricted products

Age for legal purchase (18):

  • alcohol;
  • cigarettes and tobacco, including cigarette papers;
  • fireworks (excluding party poppers);
  • solvents;
  • offensive weapons.

Age for legal purchase (16):

  • liqueur chocolates;
  • lottery tickets and scratch cards.

Age for legal purchase (12, 15, 18):

  • video recordings.


For more information contact Trading Standards by telephone: 01634 333333 or by email: consumer.protection@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Trading Standards, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR