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ID Under 35: The BARS Program Carding Policy

Many clients come to us asking for a carding policy recommendation. Some are worried that they haven’t been strict enough, and others tell us that they have been working under an “ID Everyone” policy and thus offending customers who are very clearly above the legal age to buy alcohol and/or tobacco products.


If you are in the business of selling age-sensitive products, there is definitely a balance. Drawing on our years of experience in the compliance field, our recommendation is ID UNDER 35. This keeps the customer’s experience and expectations in mind and protects your business from damaging stings.


Managing Expectations with Carding Policies


We believe that ID Under 35 is a good policy overall because the vast majority of people can detect the difference between a 21-year-old and a 35-year-old. After all, that’s a 14-year difference.


At the same time, most people in their 30s still expect to be carded. And there are many who are flattered to be carded as they get into their 40s.


Common sense and good communication can help avoid awkward situations. When you have a sign posted saying “We ID under 50” (such as at the stadium), a man in his 40s is not going to be offended when he is carded. Similarly, if you set the expectation that you always card anyone under 35, your regular customers won’t be offended when it happens.


Having a carding policy in place is hugely helpful when it comes to compliance. We hear many employees using the excuse, “But I didn’t sell to an underage person.” When you have a strict carding policy in place, it becomes a matter of following company policy and always carding anyone who looks younger than 35 rather than a judgment call of whether someone is 20 versus 21.


Tobacco Policy: Federal Mandate to ID Under 27


While an ID Under 35 policy for alcohol products is voluntary, there is actually an FDA mandate to ID Under 27 for all tobacco transactions. This means that even if you have someone come into your store every single week to buy cigarettes, and you’ve checked their ID and know that they are 25, you still need to card them for every tobacco purchase.


Establishing a company policy that requires an ID check for customers under 35 for all age-sensitive purchases will help you meet this mandated requirement as well.


If you have any questions about how to implement an ID Under 35 carding policy into your business, please contact the BARS Program at 1-877-540-5500 or  customerservice@barsprogram.comr blog entry here.

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