Sainsbury’s does not accept ID cards!?

Another blog post in the category “The incredible life of (non UK) EU citizens in the UK” (Part 1 here)

Imagine you are a Belgian citizen and you just turned 27. You move to the UK to do research at one of the leading universities. So far so good. Thanks to EU legislation, there are no problems getting your previous qualifications recognised. Although the UK is not member of Schengen it is enough to present a ID card at the border to enter the country. Obviously you do not need a visa or a passport. Anyway most of EU citizens just carry their ID cards with them, some do not even have passports and, anyway, we tend to store our passports at home in the cupboard in case we travel to weird destinations next summer. So what can possibly go wrong with living in the UK you might ask?

Well, although you are 27 you might look younger than 25 which can be a problem (although this is hard to imagine!) So on any given Wednesday you pop into your local Sainsbury’s to buy a bottle of wine. (For those of you who have been in the UK you might be aware of a small alcohol problem regarding under-age drinking…) Since the shop assistant thinks you look under 25 (in normal circumstances this is a compliment!) she asks for a proof of identity as the shop policy requires her to check everyone who looks under 25 whether he or she is over 18.

First, you might be a bit surprised as you did not expect this question. But, thanks to old habits you carry your Belgian ID card with you and present it to the shop assistant. After all it is one of the most advanced ID cards in Europe and does not look like a library card.


“Sorry we do not accept ID cards – only passports and British driving licenses” the shop assistant informs you. Your reply: “But in the alcohol department I saw a poster with all means of identification – including ID cards” (which is of course rather funny as there are no UK ID cards yet…) – “Sorry, no exceptions.” she answers. “I can show you the poster if you want?” But she clarifies ”We do not accept ID cards!” – “But this is my national ID card issued by the Belgian state and you can see here that I am 27 years old” – “Sorry, I cannot accept it!”

So, why do we have ID cards (ID is short for identity document!!) if this is still happening in the EU? Why is the ID accepted to enter the country, to open a UK bank account, to vote in local UK and European elections. Probably you can even open your own supermarket – but it is really not accepted to proof your age in a supermarket? Is it discrimination? Well, as the branch manager of Sainsbury’s explained later: “Discriminatory behavior would include different prizes for UK citizens and foreign citizens…but the supermarket can decide what kind of ID it accepts”

I am not convinced! And I would feel discriminated against. I think this is ridiculous and I wonder whether there is any EU/national legislation which could be used in this case…I still hope this was a decision of a couple of stubborn employees and not the official company policy….

And just to make it clear: This really happened (!), however, luckily there are other supermarkets and the evening eventually included a bottle of wine!


  1. English shop assistants were/are famous for being unable to accept Scottish or Northern Irish sterling notes. They don’t even know they exist. I wouldn’t take it personally. Just take your money elsewhere next time.

    I didn’t know that an ID card was enough to cross the Schengen line.

  2. @Coleman
    These new identity cards are pretty sophisticated, with security features absent in old passports.

    In principle, all discrimination on grounds of nationality is prohibited in the internal market, but easier than going to court would be to a) ask discriminating companies to place visible posters at the entrance of their discriminatory practices (to save people time), and b) for people to spread the word (as you have done), and c) for smart customers to shop elsewhere (as Coleman suggested).

    Do you hear us?

    @UK government and media
    Why not educate your public, including businesses? Great for tourism etc.

  3. Although the Lisbon Treaty means that the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels can make whatever rules they like, so far the member states of the EU can set their own internal ID rules. Except that if one member state declares a certain document to be valid ID for its citizens, every other state must also recognise that document. But this requirement is only mandated on the state, not on businesses. In effect, Sainsburys can set their own rules legally. As the manager pointed out, the only thing they cannot do is discriminate. This raises an interesting question. If the British ID card is successful (unlikely, but bear with me) then it is arguable that it would be discriminatory for them to accept UK ID cards, but not those of other countries.

    There is a major problem here. It is tough for workers to know what valid locally issued ID looks like. Distinguishing, say, a valid Czech ID card from a fake, could be very challenging. An alternative would be to train staff to recognise under age people by looking at them, instead of their ID. (The state of Oregon requires all those serving alcohol to do this.) But then, when did a shop assistant last look at a customer in Sainsburys.

    By the way, English shop assistants do not have to accept Scottish or Northern Irish notes because they are not legal tender in England and Wales. Bank of England notes are legal tender throughout the UK.

    • Scottish banknotes are legal in England, Wales and NI and enjoy exactly the same status as any other method of payment. The fundamental problem is that the law of contract throughout the United Kingdom allows people not to engage in a transaction at the point of payment if they do not wish to do so. As an aside, in Scotland neither english nor Scottish notes are ‘legal tender’. BoE notes were made legal tender in England in 1833, however, in Scotland coinage remains the only legal tender.

    • What about the fact that they accept other nationalities’ driving licences? They’re not identical to British driving licences, althouth the difference doesn’t matter. I struggle with this problem not only in Sainsbury’s but one of local news agents started doing that do. When I wanted to contact the manager about it, I was refused to get any details. This is really making me feel helpless. I do have my passport in UK, but I am not going to carry it around, because in case of losing it, it would be a real hussle for me. And I don’t see a need in doing it, if I’ve got a document on me, which allows me to cross the border of the country. The manager on shift in Sainsbury’s when I asked him about this situation, said that maybe I should start doing driving licence? It’s a joke, really…

      • you say that but it actually happened to me that they refused my driving licence with the argument it is not forge proof enough as it doesn’t has the holographic picture (I hold an old Austrian license before the EU ones came out). it is still a perfectly valid driving licence.

  4. @ Simon Evans
    European identity cards, including security features, are standardised. Makes it easier for workers and businesses – at least the smarter ones.

  5. Sainsbury's does not accept ID cards!? – Kosmopolito: Well, although you are 27 you might look younger than..

  6. RT @kosmopolit Blogged about life in the #UK, #Sainsburys and #IDcards @kosmopolito

  7. Fab piece by @kosmopolit about UK identity card stupidities If it's any solace my NHS doctor didn't like my diving license

  8. Sort of in reply to Bethany – would have been *very* funny if they thought Kosmopolit was under 18… 🙂

  9. This also made me think of this story:
    A mother was prevented from buying wine because her 17 year old daughter was shopping with her!

    • I had the same problem in Hungary in a supermarket – my little brother (who is 16) was with me and the shop assistant wanted to id him as well… In the end I won the argument but again it is ridiculous. Legally it is not his responsibility if I would buy alcohol for a minor (which was not the case) but mine.

    • My friend went into Sainsburys on Saturday with her 17 year old son to buy beer, she was asked for ID, not for him, but for herself. He would not serve her without it. She is 43. Joke!

      • Sorry! Me again! I’ve been asked by a fellow member of staff to point out the issue with Proxy sales and alcohol….
        If you are being asked for I.D when attempting to purchase alcohol people have to ask everyone for I.D if they look quite young. So as not to sell to an underager by proxy.

        I personally hate this one in particular, Im not very clear on it because I cant remember the exact thing I read but Im pretty sure you are not legally obligated to I.D everyone in a group IF THEY LOOK REASONABLY UNDERAGE for cigs….But you are if it’s alcohol.
        I could be wrong on that one so I’ll check it out tomorrow. I’ve been writing an article about this you see! The reason why I cant shut up!

        Try to tell staff your age first, most are afraid of being tested and the test customers are obliged to tell you their correct age!

        If anyone could send me their thoughts and opinions that would be helpful. I would love to be able to make sure my staff are better trained in how to deal with upset customers. How many people get an explanation for the refusal?? Has the person at the till made you feel small or was it the refusal itself?

        • Hii work for a company were you ask for id and you ask of it as if the gov send in a under age person you store can be lost the right to sale beer and if you sale beer to a under age and police stop him the person who sale it can be fine 5000 and lost job and cant work in any shop that sell beer store 5000 and lost the right to sale so hey ask it the law to ask if you look under 25. But i think it a very thin line as you ask someone who is over 25 and has no id they can take it good and like you think they under age and there there is other that cant take it good which you tell them it the law and sorry i cant sevice you as it more then my job to rise it

  10. same thing happened to yet another Belgian friend of mine. Her ID was not accepted to get a Railcard … only passports! The stupid station manager has probably never been in continental Europe.

  11. RT @kosmopolito: Sainsbury’s does not accept ID cards!? – Kosmopolito ID insanities #idcards

  12. The same happened to me in Ireland, in a TESCO! I’m Hungarian and they required my passport, which I, of course, did not have on me. They told me that it was due to a resolution of the Irish government. I then reminded them of the immediate applicability of the EU law, but it did not seem to have any effect. Since then I’ve been thinking about writing a letter to the customers’ rights commissioner but haven’t done it yet. But it’s good to know that I’m not alone with this problem.

  13. well what can i say i am a fellow Belgian and i must say the ignorance is massive i got told yesterday that the Belgian ID is not part of the EU …!!!! Beat that so now were not part of the EU according to some Ignorant Manager in an office………. that was the highlight of my day… i accept that one has not seen an id but to state Belgium is not part of it they obviously are secluded and live in a box……………..

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 3:22 am

      I just will take the sainsburys to the court now… someone have to stop them….

    • They said that Belgium is not part of the EU? I would have asked: ‘Are you suggesting then that I have entered the UK illegally? What’s stopping you from calling the UK Home Office to report me?”

      I really feel that ALL store employees should go on a mandatory boot camp about ID validation and counterfeiting inspection. They are talking absolute BULLSHIT if they claim that Belgium is not a member of the EU. I think they confuse us with people showing void Czechoslowakian passports or something… it can only be Czech or Slowakian nowadays of course. Apparently some American citizens still refer absolutely falsely to ‘Czechoslowakia’ which is an outright scandal, they should never allow such ignorant cows to enroll for a BA in International politics or International relations, they’d just breed a pack of ignorant Sarah Palin clones claiming that North Korea are their allies and total other nonsense crap…

    • Belgian requirements on paperwork are probably worse than any other country. I am sympathetic, but try improving the primitive Belgian rules

  14. Hi there, i am a Sainsbury’s employee as a cashier and checkout supervisor. And no matter how much i hate working there, I’ve have never heard anything so crazy as this! Of course Sainsbury’s accepts ID Cards! As far as i know, we accept:

    For UK residence: Citizen Card, Portmans’ Proof of age card, cards cards displayed on the The National Proof of Age Standards Scheme website, UK Drivers Licence and UK passports.

    For non UK residence: Original Passport of the country you reside, Drivers licence and National ID of the country you reside in.

    As long as the ID is Valid (within the valid from and valid to dates) and has not been tampered with in any way, it should be ok.

    May i ask, did u ask to talk to a manger about this incident?

    • I don’t know whether my fried talked to the manager at this particular incident or whether he was so shocked that he just left the shop.

      And I know this is not the official Sainsbury’s policy which would indeed be a scandal. But the problem seems to exist as some of the other comments revealed. And this is not a Sainsbury’s problem as it happens in other shops as well. The question is why that happens. Is it because the employees are not properly trained or because they fear harsh consequences if they make a mistake? Or is it something else?

      • The consequences are quite harsh, if anyone is caught selling age restricted products (alcohol, knives, games, dvd’s) to anyone under the required age, you have the risk of an 1) on-the-spot fine, 2) disciplinary action possibly leading to dismissal 3) criminal record. The licence holder (one of the managers in the store) may also face the same/similar consequences as he is also kept responsible along with the staff who made the illegal sale. So yes, there is a lot of pressure, and most people don’t want to get close to risking it so they become really hesitant on deciding what to accept.

        • hi i have just got my provisional driving license because my passport went out of date 3 years ago and places have started not to accept it im just wondering is my provisional classed as valid id to purchase alcohol and such


          • Quit getting upset. I’m a Sainsburys employee. It’s company policy. Contact head office they write the rules they will say the same thing.

            If it bothers you that much there are other supermarkets. This annoys us as much as it annoys you. Stop trying to debate with everyone and accept that ANY store can legally refuse anyone.

            This policy has been company policy for quite a while and isn’t made up by the evil dumb cashier who is serving you.


            OA, I’m not sure you are a sainsburys employee at all!

      • Gabriella Herhoff

        November 21, 2010 at 3:33 am

        Hi there, i think happening because the stuff not trained enough….everybody just leaving within few months(weeks like me)…..i used to work at the sainsburys, where my incident happened actually today, you can read it here somewhere, and i remembered at the training that we had to accept from non uk citizens the following: Their Original ID card, driving licence or passport…..thats it,,,,easy isntit?? Gabriella

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 3:26 am

      Hello:) Yes, i did speak to the manager…..but he still did not accepted our europian diving licence, national insurance cards, Lloyds bank cards and plus my barclays bank kard and Nectar card:DD Please help me to find the sainsburys policy about this please, thank you very much!! Gabriella Herhoff

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 4:25 am

      hope you did not loose your job cos told us the truth. Gabriella

    • I’ve worked for Sainsburys and my partner will always work for them! Its really upsetting to read the comments on here especially when you know WHY you have to refuse someone. My main issue is people slagging off Sainburys and misreading the ‘legal’ side of it….Sainsburys would even pay for them to get to court if it made them a permanent happy customer.
      I bend over backwards for my customers! But people would be happier if I lost my job because THEY felt I hadnt recieved enough training? I think people need to realise that having wine and cigs are not a right….its a choice. I certainly wont lose my job because of someone elses recreational habits.

      However, we all experience till staff that are just horrible! But not many people are that sad they would refuse and I.D that they are told is acceptable. I’ve had a starbar thrown at me because a customer was able to get into a bar in Town with his out of date passport but I cant accept that because its no longer valid.

      I would LOVE for Sainsburys to go to court! Nothing would happen!
      I would actively encourage anyone to have a go. Unless the person serving was a blatant dirty racist or refusing an I.D that is acceptable but for a personal reason. I cant even think of an example for that one.
      Until theres one set list of acceptable identification that ALL businesses have to follow then customers will still feel offended…but then they need to realise that they need educating on the subject too………..and Sainsbury’s would pay for the lessons!

    • I am also a cashier at Sainsbury’s and my manager does not accept national identity cards, which I think is extremely stupid.

    • I am a SAinsbury’s employee and we do not except national id cards. It couses a lot of frustration and verbal abuse towards cashiers. Wecare told that it is a law by which we are not allowed to accept id cards but icannot believe that it is true as i went to Asda and Tesco and bought alcohol there with no problem and my id card was accepted. Also any club and pub i went to in central London accepted my id card. I asked my customers who are co-op emploees if they accept id cards and they told yes of course. Finally i asked a lady who is a pub manager and she told that they accept id cards so how can it be a law? Or there is a serious problem with law infosment.

  15. I have also had a problem with ID at the Sainsburys in Oxford City Centre (Westgate). I have been using my New Zealand Drivers Licence as ID to buy alcohol since I entered the UK nearly 2 years ago. Last weekend all of a sudden it was not valid ID at this particular store. The check out staff was really rude including bitching (there is no better word) with thier check out supervisor about someone who had given the ‘stick’ about this policy last week. They would not even answer me when I asked when the policy had changed. I finally got the answer ‘about 2 weeks ago’. I left and went to M & S down the road where they didn’t even ask for ID. Is there not a standard rule throughout the UK for what ID is accepted? I can’t find anything on the internet that will tell me. I am not carrying my passport around in case I would like to borrow a bottle of wine as I ahve already had the Home Office hold onto it for 1 year (whilst sitting on my residence card application) and had Royal Mail loose it when they were on strike. Can anyone tell me exactly what the Government says about what ID is acceptable?

  16. I also had the same problem in Ireland with my Spanish ID.

  17. I have just experienced the same humiliation in Morrisons in Bradford ( ).
    My trolley contained about £50-£60 worth of foods as well as a bottle of wine which I wanted to use for cooking.

    I am used to be checked for IDs, I’m in the UK since a long time now and never had any problem when I shown my French ID card even though I’m nearly 30.
    No to say that this afternoon it was one of this day where the cashier ask for my ID and when presented with all my IDs (French driving licence & National ID & even a UK credit card which can not be obtained under 18). They have all been refused on the ground that they are non British IDs. I’ve asked to speak with the manager and the manager was even more unpleasant than the cashier!

    The whole ‘procedure’ was scandalous and you feel like being treated as criminals because of your Nationality. Sure shops can not tell if the ID is a fake or not but for crying out loud we are not crossing any borders and clearly our IDs does not look cheap fakes especially when you show two of them.

    Morrisons, and CO., let me tell you this is unacceptable we are customers and be treated as such.

    The point to ask for the ID when you buy alcohol in UK is to check your age and picture our ID fit this purpose. I have seen 20 years old kids showing a ‘bus photo ID’ without any problem in the same shops, and to me this tend to be a discrimination.

    My stew and all the others to come will be cooked with a bottle of beer bought at the local pub or from my local wine shop…

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 3:47 am

      yeah i know what you mean…. i am living at the uk 5 years ago, have even a nectar card but were threated as criminals today at the sainsburys cos wanted to buy a lager to my boyfriend….after 5 years……just read my notes….i will go to the court about this if anyone want to come feel free to join…Gabriella Herhoff 07882639360.

      • I have just experienced the same thing at co-op. The member of staff asked me for an ID. I showed her my Polish driving licence and she said that they don’t accept ”Polish documents” and that I should get some citizenship card as a foreign person (maybe I should tatoo my number on the left shoulder?!?!?!?!?). I was so angryyyyy. Then she said, that anyway I looked over 25 so she decided to sell me my beer… hahaha. Well tomorrow I am going to talk to the manager and will put a formal complaint…….lets see what happens next.

  18. This happened to me aswell. I am german, nearly 2 meters tall, have a full beard and on top of that… I am actually 28 years old.

    Tried buying cigarettes, showed my drivers licence (rejected), visa card (rejected) and demanded to talk to the manager without success.

    Surely this must fall under discrimination, as the poster outside clearly says… A valid photo ID.

    I even tried explaining that I can cross borders with my licence, but that apparently didn’t make sense. Showed my uni card, which was issued many many years ago (british), but also without success.

    The funny thing is, that I have been shopping at that coop for more than a year now and most of the employees have seen me atleast a dozen times.

    I can understand that it’s important to check for things like that, but this just reached a new level and I without doubt feel discriminated!

    I demand retribution!

    • Hi,

      I believe that it is not the biggest problem if you cannot buy alcohol, because STUPID British employees keep ignoring that the EEA id cards are as good as passports in the EEA.

      I am a Hungarian citiizen, living in the UK for 5 years, I have a valid Hungarian national ID card an expired passport and a valid Registration certificate (also knowns as blue card that’s purpose is to confirm my right to work in the UK).
      However, basically ALL UK employers state that they only accept passports, however THEY MUST NOT SAY THAT!!!!!!!!! As the EEA id cards are as good as passports in the EEA, whenever a passport is asked for, the EEA national ID card MUST BE ACCPETED as a passport.

      To be clear: throughout the European Economic Area, an EEA country issued national ID card IS a passport.

      • It is not up to eees to decide what to accept. We are not stupid and we are not deserve to be sweared at. We are just doing our jobs ander threat to be sacked and fined if we do not follow the rules of the company. I am working as a cashier and i am verbely abused by customers every day because i refuse to sell alcohol. What i think would be helpful if people could get more information about pass sceme cards from shop’s customer service. It must be posible to pay for it in the shop and definitely not only online. Also the prise of that card must be much lower as we already paid 35 pound for our id cards so why should we pay another 30 and sending our might be only id card to some office and paying for special delivery another 30 pounds and wait for varification for a months. So the for us comes to extra 60 pounds and inconviniuns of waiting. So make it more available, easier and cheaper to obtain.

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 3:54 am

      hi, did you go to the court? just read my story, i will to go there now. Gabriella

      • And how is your story? Did you go to the court?
        Today it happened to me in Iceland shop! It’s rediculous! I am so angry and I see it as clear discrimination and not obeying EU law.

  19. Same thing happened to me, today! Me and the husband wanted to buy a bottle of alcohol at Waitrose! I’m 25, the husband 28! For the first time, in two years, all of our forms of ID were denied. We are both Portuguese, and we had both our driving licenses as well as our national id cards. After asking to talk to the manager, he showed the list of documents accepted:
    1. ENGLISH age card
    2. ENGLISH passport
    3. Any card with the “pass logo” (which, as Portuguese, we do not have).

    I was embarrassed and humiliated… Even the lady standing on the queue, just behind us, said that what they were doing was outrageous…

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 3:59 am

      hi, read my storry, i am going to the court about this now, if you want to enjoy it let me know….Gabriella Herhoff 07882639360

  20. You just need to make it clear to management – not the employee involved, who either feels like a turd for having to enforce the rule, or is a turd for enjoying enforcing the rule – that it’s cost them the business of you, your foreign tourist friends, and your professional acquaintances, for the indefinite future (i.e. until they go out of its way to do something positive about it and let you know).

    If someone is too dense to be trained to recognize valid ID, they’re too dense to be handling money or alcohol, so they can and should be trained in what ID is legitimate. As has been pointed out, EU ID’s are standardized and easy to recognize.

  21. RT @kosmopolit: A scandal if correct: #Sainsbury can refuse EU ID cards because they only have to accept the "PASS logo" (last comment)

  22. Several months since my last attempt to buy alcohol at the above mentioned Sainsburies I decided to give it another shot -this time they accepted my NZ Drivers Licence without batting an eyelash. I guess it’s different rules depending on who you end up with at the till! I still haven’t received an acknowledgment of my complaint 5 months on and to make things even more hilarious – now that I am pregnant and have a ‘baby belly’ I can buy alcohol from that same store without ever being asked for ID (not for myself obviously). Isn’t it a funny world we live in.

    • Gabriella Herhoff

      November 21, 2010 at 4:09 am

      gosh… if you are over 30, with a valid driving licence from hungary and bank cards etc(everything you want) like me, you not served, but if you are pregnant than you can drink in front of the store all day…..english people are sick….we shouldnt forget that they were in an Island for a long time and having babies from sisters-brothers, thats why so many people using wheel chairand having “learning disability” what i never seen in any country in europe in my life. Gabriella Herhoff

      • This comment is horrible, and all comments like this are horrible. Shall I go to court aswell because I think you’ll find comments like this one are racist….but this is my point….The real racism and the real issue is being masked by people that are taking something personally…..and all mixed up with a slight dollop of bullshit. Real ignorance is not behind the till at Sainsburys, it’s the people who dont understand that if we are told we cannot accept this I.D then we cant accept it!
        I know your comment was a while ago, but could you give me any further information about you going to court? I would be very interested and grateful for any information.

        Thank you for your time

  23. Generally when you come to an EU country, the people who let you enter have seen I.D cards from most nationalities and therefore know a real one from a fake. Usually when entering a Country for a long period of time your passport and reason why should be stated. Due to the high rise in people trying to purchase alcohol under the age of 18 companies such as Adsa, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are taking a wider approach to the identity cards they take. Personally if I have never seen this I.D card I won’t take it on the chances it might not be genuine. Near where I live my local supermarket only allow UK drivers licence and UK passports to be used for Identification. You can purchase a Citizenship card which is also acceptable as it has a pass-logo on.

  24. hey there look today i had a horrible experince i have lived here a year and i am a american citizen married to a british citizen with a UK visa to stay here and i was refused alcohol today at the co operative i was told only uk idenfications are allowed to buy alcohol after one year buying its ridiciould i felt discrimated against and i didnt felt welcomed i am starting a petition to change this they need to train their people on how to identify proper forigen ID and passports .So basicly you cant buy alcohol at co operative if u are not a citizen !

  25. same happend to me when trying to buy smokes at the Coop they refused my national ID that i used to gett in to the country…..

  26. I have just been to Sainsbury’s, and the National ID card is on the approved forms of Id list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have seen it at the checkout!

  27. This happened to me too! In Glasgow (October, 2010).

  28. Gabriella Herhoff

    November 21, 2010 at 3:07 am

    Almost the same happened to me…I am at the UK 5 years ago, shopping at the sainsburys 5 years ago, we spent god knows how many thousands there…..they gave me Nectar card to collect points etc….Never had any problems to shopping there….but….tonight….I said to my boyfriend on the way home to stop at the sainsburys to buy some stuff, he put up to the troley a pack of Fosters, we went to pay, there was an old fat women and asked ID…..He showed his europian driving licence,(he is 27 actualy) pink card with photo, same as english, we driving here with it 5 years ago, as we dont have to change it for a british one, we can if we want for 50 pounds, but as we dont have to, we newer did)…. the fat woman said that is not acceptable…..we asked what??? Even the police accepting it to you….she said no….than we showed the bank cards, now i shoved my licence and bank cards as well, than we showed our national insurance cards, than the nectar cards….but the fat women said it is not ok, we have to have english licence….i asked the manager than, a guy came,looks full alcoholic, full with wrinkle, and he said we have to leave the store…..i couldnt belive that…..i spent god knows how many thousend pounds in the last 5 years, and now i just have to leave the store… front of everybody…..than the security guy arrived, and he was full with tattoos, really, it was in Gloucester, at Barnett way, and he started to talk about company policy as the sainsburys just accepting english papers….so why did they give us nectar card than few years ago to shopping there?? And actually i know some of the sainsburies policis and for ecample you not allowed to show your tattoos….but even the security guy was full of it….I will complaining on monday, will take them to the court as i have enough now….that was so bad what they made to me in front of everybody after i was shopping there for 5 years….Thanks to read it …Gabriella

  29. Funny, well you have to understand that the education in Brittian is lower than in some other European Countries (I do not want to offend anyone, but sadly it`s true). Also you got a lot of foreigners working in grocery stores, they do not have a clue about europe or the Stearling Pound.
    The wages in shops, stores or even banks for the lower staff is very poor. Also the management in those stores are bad, people are bad trained. So you get what you pay for!

    I can tell you a whole lot of stories like that. A friend of mine lost his wallet. As he was half Australien , half Spanish, he had 2 Passports. One Spanish one Australian.
    So as he tried to with draw his rent, the cashier at his branch refused to pay him out. She wanted two forms of ID. But a Spanish and an Australian Passport was suspicious to her…. :-))

    One of the Managers told him he has to come back with an other Form of ID or wait till he gets his new Bank Card. After a half hour of arguments, he then told him he could get 50 Pounds but not more.

    My friend respond, “OKey so If you can`t proof my identity, but you are willing to pay me 50 Pounds from someoneeles account. And If you identify me, you are not paying me my own money back?”
    After he said he wants to close his account straight away then, they paid him out his rent and 50 bucks more.

    I lived in many European Countries and the UK been one of the crazies. You confronting either a 21st century or the dark ages. Same with people, I couldn`t find a middle class…

  30. the same thing happened to me today at Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries Sainsbury, and I had my national ID card and EU driving license on me. (I’m from Slovenia).

    I just wanted to buy ingredients for a cake, part of which was a bottle of rum. After my ID was denied, I told the cashier that my friend who was with me has a UK driving license, and the guy said to me that that wont work because we both need a valid ID.

    That’s just crazy!
    My driving license is valid for driving a car in the UK,
    but I can’t buy alcohol with it?
    And my national ID card was enough to open a bank account in the UK an all..

    That policy is discriminating…
    Who carries a passport with him to a shop?…

    And the cashier looked 2, maybe 3 years older than me tops…


  32. Just go to you can get any fake drivers license from them

  33. I think yesterday I experienced a very clean discrimination episode that I really feel like taking out of my chest. I went to my local shop, let’s call it “X”. I am 26 years old, althought I look older I carry my Brazilian passport and my national foreing ID (a spouse visa) card issued by the British Home Office (which they assured me it is my single ID in this country). The manager of this shop refused to sell me cigarettes on the grounds “if it’s not a British passport it could be fake and we do not accept this national foreign ID card. Just apply for a PASS”.
    I went back home and researched the shop’s policy online… called the Home Office. The guy in the Home Office phoneline told me that my national foreing ID has to be accepted. The shops’ policy online does not mention that they would not accept foreign passports.I went back to the shop and calmly tried to explain to the manager that refusing to accept my passport on the grounds that if it’s not British it could be fake is CLEARLY unreasonable discrimination and it could configurate a lawsuit. I tried to speak to her 4 times …she never let me finish one sentence… shouted at me saying that I was treating her like a child and that I was threaning to sue her. I insisted that I was threaning at all I was just trying to explain that unreasonable discrimination is something serious that can lead to a lawsuit, but I was not going to do that at all, but I would like to be treated fairly. Another two till people joined her… shouted at , laughed at me and demanded that I left the shop. I sound surreal, but I can guarantee that I didn’t even raised my voice. I am a Law student, and I know how much you can loose just by talking to people in a wrong way.
    I called the Head office of this chain of supermarkets and the lady in the other side of the line, refused to accept my view and even added,something along this lines: “well, if you threaned to sue the shop, it is understandable that they reacted like that”. She very biased and I felt that it felt really stupid that I even bothered to call them.
    They claim that it is on their policy not to accept foreign passport as a form of ID.Funilly enough this very discriminatory statement is not available on their general policy on their website.
    I love this country and I am decided that this is where I am going to live for long and long years. I live here legally, pay my taxes and I just wished that this minority of people that are very biggoted could step on our shoes and think how awful what they and how distressing it can be to someone.

    • My son is 19 years old and today he was refuse to buy tobacco in Sainsbury shop . I know that he is still young to smoke but this is not the point .The Asian cashier can not even correctly counted his age from the valid Czech national ID card even the Czech ID is also wrote by English language .
      So the first reason for refusing was that he is not 18 years old ( good Sainsbury cashier ). Unfortunately the night supervisor also refused to sell tobacco and he also did not accepted my sons National ID even the new Czech european driving licence , which is very well sophisticated and accepted as ID card in all EU countries . We believe that this is a form of racism and discrimination .
      Sainsbury is just lazy trained employees about EU national ID cards or keep at the stores a simple book with examples of EU ID cards. It will be probably very expensive so they can not afforded. This is a beautiful example of ignoring EU citizens’ rights and their discrimination . I hope so , that soon or later somebody will bring them to court.
      Can anybody help with some legal advice against this Sainsbury embarrassing treatment ?

  34. I have just been to the shop where I have been shopping for the last three years and on numberous occassions I have been asked to show my ID (despite being over 25). Every time I was able to show my Polish ID or my Polish/EU driving licence which was accepted by every member of staff. Today, a new person has served me and I have been refused. I am absolutely gobsmacked and I am going to make a complaint as this is clearly racial discimination. I felt embarrased, ashamed as I was refused in front of several people. I have never been treated this way and this is absolutely unacceptable.

  35. i had the same situation today!! ”Can i have ur ID” – ”yes”— ”oohhh we not accept that kind of IDs!! ??????????? i asked why and she said ”because we not accept ” hahahhaha . I am POlish by the way EU citizen

  36. Ha! Just had the same experience. The ‘wonderful’ manager first refused my Greek ID on the ground on not being written in English. I pointed out that that was false. She then told me that she refused it because it was hand-written. I told her that I had asked the Greek police (which is in charge of papers such as IDs and passports), and they told me that it is a perfectly acceptable document and if somebody ask me, this is the answer I should give. Then she told me that she was going to use her ‘discretion’ and ‘allow me’ to buy the alcohol (while holding my id with both hands only inches from my nose). And then I left the shop.

  37. lol. Lovely article. Same thing happened to me today when was shopping at Edinburgh’s Aldi store. I had few groceries and 4th pack of Tenants. Nasty looking obese check-out guy asked me if I had ID for my beer. I showed him my EU Polish id card but he wouldn’t even look at it he just went (with his uneducated accent) “sorry pal but we can’t accept it as we don’t accept foreign ID cards” obviously I told that I don’t even have a passport as I don’t need to cross the border or to open bank account in here… But this dick was really stubborn so I left… oh well… Not really good for him as phoned Aldi’s customer service line straight after and was actually told that whole situation is ridiculous and EU id card are being accepted by Aldi! ok…
    Went to the store again. Had same thing in basket and went to same guy… When i was just about to be served he immediately took a break and other person filled in his place. Obviously I didn’t have any problem purchasing alcohol this time…
    Well to be honest I’m not really bother about fact that I couldn’t get booze but later on I realized that this guy was clearly racist to me and once I got beer I felt really offended (as second person wouldn’t bother about ID)… I copied this guy name and got Aldis head office no. so gonna give them a wee ring on Monday.

  38. Hello, yes same problem here, Spanish ID. It depends on how ignorant or miserable the person at the till is. I think it is ever so sad and unprofessional that the supermarkets do not train their employees on ID cards. Result? I only shop in ASDA’s and my local Co-op, where for some reason, my Spanish ID is accepted.
    The problem get worse in small areas, as people tend to be, let’s say “less cosmopolitan”.
    I am considering signing up for any petition like Elisabeth’s one.
    At this point, I am feeling tempted to go off topic and say that, if the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol wasn’t a problem, then we wouldn’t have to put up with all this rubbish. It is only in the hands of society in England to change this trend and look for healthier Saturday night hobbies, sort their unemployment problems and benefits system out and bring their youngsters up with better values.
    Anyway, remember, when they say “no ID no sale”, answer “no sale no profit”

  39. Hi everyone,

    I’ve been looking into the legality of these measures, and it seems that they breach two fundamental EU rights: freedom from discrimination, and the freedom to provide services.

    I would encourage everyone to support a campaign I’ve launched on Facebook: . There, I detail these legal claims and provide an opportunity for discussion.

    All the best,


  40. When I wanted to open a bank account the lady at the counter doubted that Germany is a european country when I showed her my ID card. She asked two colleagues who were not sure about that either and had even to ask the manager. The result was that I left the bank and chose another one where it was not a problem at all.

  41. Same for me today in Berryden Road Sainsbury’s in Aberdeen. I had my French ID and driving licence, car keys, my local university staff card, a couple of credit and debit card. I am able to take the plane with my French ID to UK, it was enough for me to vote here but it is not enough for Sainsbury’s!!! They should really clean up their act. For me, I have just been discriminated on grounds of origin. Is that not illegal?

  42. This happens in Co-Op in Portsmouth all the time…is there anything we can do about it?

  43. I stumbled across this thread because I wanted to educate the people I work with. I’ve worked in retail for 11 years mainly for the co-op, Sainsbury’s and a few newsagents here and there.
    After reading this I don’t know why I bother. At the end of the day if people feel discriminated against then maybe the staff that asked for the I.D didn’t do it discretely enough. But your reactions are disgusting! I have yet to meet someone that actually enjoys asking for I.D like you think they do!
    You DO get training for this at Sainsbury’s and the co-op but the newsagents I currently work at does not provide training for….anything! I get frustrated with asking for I.D because there is the whole UNDER 25 thing now and there only seems to be lists and people telling you what you can’t accept.

    Nobody should be accepting out of date cards or passports. A passport is no longer valid because its out of date.
    Student cards are not valid forms of I.D.
    We need to be able to tell what kind of I.D has been given to us, if all of it is in a different language the customer should be asked what it is and then staff can go from there….I had a card given to me that was actually a student card from a different country. Even if it was a valid I.D from another country it still has to be something that a staff member has been told they can accept.
    If others accept your I.D….banks for example it DOES NOT MEAN IT IS VALID FOR US.

    If we are in doubt we have the right to refuse…which means court cases and petitions mean nothing…if you received bad service then that is completely different.

    I find the comments regarding training really disturbing considering not many people on this thread have any clue about I.D themselves! I think people should be forced to work in retail for at least a year and then you’ll see how hard it is just to do your job! I love the fact nobody has noticed how many of you have even spoken to managers and have been refused! As if a Sainsbury’s manager would discriminate against a customer! They bend over backwards to lick customers arses!

    You need to face the fact that you were refused and were embarrassed about it. I got asked for I.D in Nottingham for a BURGER….and I was refused because they weren’t accepting my particular I.D at the time! (I think it was way back when connexions cards were being accepted then they weren’t) It happens! Not just to people that have foreign identification but to all of us.

    Also, a quick note about English shop assistants not accepting Scottish or Northern Irish Sterling notes. In most cases its actually the customers that refuse them! I work in one of four newsagents in Newcastle City Centre and we accept them but a customer would rather die that take it from us! Even a customer that gave me a Scottish note in the first place! They are also the ones that are faked the most.
    Just because its legal tender doesn’t mean we actually have to take it.

    I would just like to remind you in a really nice way, I swear that I understand it must be frustrating and embarrassing and you probably take it personally but it really isn’t anything like that. Staff don’t get paid enough to deal with arguments.

    Thank you for your time. Well done if you managed to read all of my post!

  44. I stumbled across this thread because I wanted to educate the people I work with. I’ve worked in retail for 11 years mainly for the co-op, Sainsbury’s and a few newsagents here and there.
    After reading this I don’t know why I bother. At the end of the day if people feel discriminated against then maybe the staff that asked for the I.D didn’t do it discretely enough. But your reactions are disgusting! I have yet to meet someone that actually enjoys asking for I.D like you think they do!
    You DO get training for this at Sainsbury’s and the co-op but the newsagents I currently work at does not provide training for….anything!
    I get frustrated with asking for I.D because there is the whole UNDER 25 thing now and there only seems to be lists and people telling you what you can’t accept.

    Nobody should be accepting out of date cards or passports. A passport is no longer valid because its out of date.
    Student cards are not valid forms of I.D.
    We need to be able to tell what kind of I.D has been given to us, if all of it is in a different language the customer should be asked what it is and then staff can go from there….I had a card given to me that was actually a student card from a different country. Even if it was a valid I.D from another country it still has to be something that a staff member has been told they can accept.
    If others accept your I.D….banks for example it DOES NOT MEAN IT IS VALID FOR US.

    If we are in doubt we have the right to refuse…which means court cases and petitions mean nothing…if you received bad service then that is completely different.

    I find the comments regarding training really disturbing considering not many people on this thread have any clue about I.D themselves! I think people should be forced to work in retail for at least a year and then you’ll see how hard it is just to do your job! I love the fact nobody has noticed how many of you have even spoken to managers and have been refused! As if a Sainsbury’s manager would discriminate against a customer! They bend over backwards to lick customers arses!

    You need to face the fact that you were refused and were embarrassed about it. I got asked for I.D in Nottingham for a BURGER….and I was refused because they weren’t accepting my particular I.D at the time! (I think it was way back when connexions cards were being accepted then they weren’t) It happens! Not just to people that have foreign identification but to all of us.

    Also, a quick note about English shop assistants not accepting Scottish or Northern Irish Sterling notes. In most cases its actually the customers that refuse them! I work in one of four newsagents in Newcastle City Centre and we accept them but a customer would rather die that take it from us! Even a customer that gave me a Scottish note in the first place! They are also the ones that are faked the most.
    Just because somethin may be legal tender doesn’t mean we actually have to take it.

    I would just like to remind you in a really nice way, I swear that I understand it must be frustrating and embarrassing and you probably take it personally but it really isn’t anything like that. Staff don’t get paid enough to deal with arguments.

    Thank you for your time, and well done if you managed to read all of my post!

    • I have just recently been refused the sell of alcohol at ASDA based on my national ID and EU driving license.I appreciate your comment and that perhaps it is not easy for staff to recognize which documentation is fake and which is valid but this is where the higher management should react and provide you with appropriate training and not just count on your judgement at the time of sale. if the British law states that any form of ID is acceptable that has a photograph, date of birth and holographic mark (refer to as a form of age verification then why retailers and on license premises are making it so different to the genral law, effectively having an adverse effect on sales. I used to work in recruitment and i know myself how hard it is to deal with all types of identity documents and restrictions as to what is acceptable or not.
      I think we all appreciate the whole under 25 and restrictions on licensing law, but this is where businesses that are affected by such law need to react and do something about it. And just to say the age verificaation policy is not consistent. I bought alcohol at ASDA many times before and all of the sudden the same store refuses me the sale. It is very subjective and personal.

  45. Thank you for the reply!

    It all depends on the company policy I’m afraid. The decision is with them they have the right to ask again for I.D and they do have the right of refusal. EU cards are a bit of a grey area with some people, they don’t seem to be on anyone’s list. So its not about just checking for fakes. Some people may have been let off in the past with an I.D but then refused when they go back.
    The fact is all places have some form of training (Sainsbury’s have Think 25 training every six months I believe) and it will always be down to the judgement of the person behind the till because they have a huge responsibility for stopping underage drinking. underage drinking is the main reason everyone’s gone a bit mental. People have to remember those who face a huge fine for little more than wrongly judging a persons age! I just find it sad that all this fuss is caused so people can drink and smoke then dress the issue up by using words like discrimination an racism…..its disgusting…a till worker risks on the spot fines, removal of license to sell age related products and could have the business shut down.

    This is a snippet of what we receive in trading standards packs

    A responsible retailer will:

    Train till staff and provide regular reminders/refresher training.
    Adopt a policy not to sell when there is doubt.
    Display statutory signs and deterrent posters.
    Always ask for proof of age. “No ID, No Sale”
    Comply with the spirit and the letter of the law.
    Work with enforcement agencies and make them aware of suspected sources.
    Keep a record of refusals

    .People will just have to get used to the fact that not all places may accept your I.D. We cant just accept any card that has a photo, D.O.B and a holographic mark either, it has to be valid for that business, It depends on company policy and if they aren’t worried about losing money then you shouldn’t be either. But then that’s just another excuse for everyone to jump on a bandwagon when really its just about hurt feelings.
    There must be some loss of revenue but not enough for anyone to even think about changing how things are done.

    However, I think people do need to rethink the lists of what people can accept and then don’t change it for a very long time! One card that is an I.D, a passport, a travel card, a phone, a compact mirror maybe.

    Thanks again.

  46. So I am yet another person who had pleasure of going through the same difficulity. Now the reason I feel I could contribute is that I am working in a betting shop with a very strick Think 21 policy. I do know how unpleasent it is to ask people for ID especialy in the enviroment like betting industry. I also know it is in majority of cases not the fault or problem with the person checking behind the Till. I am 27 this year and yet I am constantly asked for i.d. This overblown terror or underage motivated by the fact that all employess are instructed thet they are the only people who will be blame if they sell alcohol to the wrong person. Stories of prison and huge fine circulated among stuff jsut to ‘motivate’ their behaviour. My issue is with one the one hand with policy and on the other with this unreasonable attitude towards checking age. Policies like think 25 ware meant to give an way for people to check age in borderline cases where now people are refused to buy alcohol even that it is obvious they are over 18! And again I do not think it is fault of the individual cashiers but the whole group mentality around the problem. I live in UK foralmsot 8 years and it was the first time that my national ID was refused. It did not make me feel discriminated but it did made me anoyed at the riddicilous level of scare in wat I take to be also my country.

  47. Biggest humiliation at Morrison ever!!!

    I have been refused to be sold a four-pack of lager. When I have been asked for a proof of identity, I presented my Polish Identity Card (EQUAL TO PASSPORT!!!!). The cashier looked at it and loudly announced “we do not accept these!” She did it in a way she is used to doing and loving it. When I asked what she meant, she said “we only take “those” with EU sign on” and started serving another customer. All eyes around me started obviously staring at me immediately. I would normally leave it but instead I asked whether I could speak to a manager. This came as a shock to me that they refused a document that is accepted at every border in European Union and I used it to visit a lot of countries. Moreover, this is a document that is used and accepted as Legal Right to Work in the UK! So how come it is NOT accepted as a proof of age in one of the biggest supermarkets in the same country?!

    After few minutes, the casher’s supervisor came to see me. She had obviously already been informed what the situation was as she was shouting while walking towards me “Are you Polish? No, we don’t accept them! Nor do Tescos, sorry!”. At which I answered “but I have not got my passport at the moment and this is the only proof of identity I have got; it is regarded to be as valid as passport”. She said “no, we only take those from European Union”. At that point there wasn’t one person at the cash area who would not be looking at me. I just said quietly “but Poland is in European Union”, turned and walked away. My face was bright red and tears came down my face. I cried all the way home and can’t still believe what I experienced in one of the biggest shops, in one of the most civilised countries in the world!

    You can say what you want here – employers and staff have their own rights to refuse serving but let me tell you something – you want your customers and you want to provide a good service then learn the basics!!! I work as a senior Recruiter for one of the biggest global banks, based in London and wanting to give jobs to the most desired people, I had to make the minimum effort and learn how their identity cards look!!!

  48. When I have been to the US and asked for ID buying alcohol or going into a bar/club, they have always accepted my British Driving licence and still accept my British ID card.

    Being in the EU there are certain laws which stop someone from another member state being treated less favourably. Our passports and Drivers license changed to a unified EU format to make it easier for those with less common sense to realise they are accepted anywhere in the EU.

    As ID cards are issued by the state, the same as passports, I do not see why ID cards cannot be used. I think what Sainsburys is doing is not legal and needs to be challenged in the courts.

    No one who comes to his country should be embarrassed in this way. I’m sure none of you would like to be treated that way, but the trouble is that most of you simply do not understand your rights.

  49. That’s true, Salisbury’s doesn’t accept EU ID,in Edinburgh,in our case, because it happened to us, with our spanish and italian ID. I’m 29, and my friends are 30 and 35. So basically people from UK can keep drinking cheaper than tourists, which must go to the pub, where nobody has never asked me my Id before giving me a glass of whisky (jee,so i don’t look younger than my age 🙁 So, increasing sad alcoholism statistics are just UK citizens fault! So the solution is getting the uk driving licence! 😀 I’m surprised that english tourists traveling around the world sometimes get angry because they are asked to show their id when paying by credit card and we do it for safety reasons, and we accept driving lycence and national ID and passports. (you know there’s the big crisis in Spain).. The english police registered us when we came to England so we could ask them to make us a valid document to show to salisbury’s supermarkets… And to get our National Insurance Number we were asked a valid ID. but watch out valid for the UK authorities not for Salisbury’s scotland yard! AJAJAJAJAJAJ!! Madre mia!!

  50. Just happened to me at Sainsburrys Greenwich, London! Me and my wife are both 28.

    I tried to show my french National ID, my french driving license, it was passed around 3 cashiers… and was rejected because non-British. They told me they would only accept my passport, which I don’t carry with me all the time!!!

    • yeah happened to me four times; i started carrying around my passport; passport got stolen in a pub. WOOOHOOO LIFE!!! (AND my passport has actually gotten rejected once because it wasn’t in english). so apparently foreigners aren’t allowed to buy a pint or tobacco or filters or rolling papers or a lighter OR even a knife.

  51. DoctorJustice

    June 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    You know what ? I have written a complaint to the Cooperative management about the Polish ID not being accepted after the recent events in media regarding the football fans statements towards Brits. First, the staff had accepted the very same ID for months and in other branches. Suddenly, two days after headline in the SUN ” you’re next” they said to my mate : ” sorry, we only accept English ID’s ” … LOL this is only one branch though, they are bunch of ignorant chavs

  52. Well,

    has anyone ever tried the following scenario?
    Take a bottle of wine, go to the till and say you’d like to buy it and pay for it.
    Remark: do not forget to say explicitly that you’d like to pay for it!!
    When they ask to prove that you are over 18, show your EU ID card (that was good enough to get you into the country in the first place). If they refuse to accept it as proof of age, then take the bottle again, and say: OK, I have offered you to pay for it, if you don’t accept this offer I assume this is a gift. And then walk away, with this bottle.
    If they stop you, what can they do?
    They cannot charge you with shoplifting without making themselves ridiculous. After all, you declared the bottle at the till and have offered to pay for it! On the other hand, you have a strong case for being discriminated!

    • you do realize that if you even tried that in a shop
      you WOULD be be done with shoplifting
      the police WOULD be called to the store
      then your snapshot would be taken for reference
      and you WOULD BE BANNED from the store …. and for what because of an ID CARD ?!

      this really really annoys me

      even UK ID CARDS can be refused if there is any doubt what so ever
      I have had to refuse people for having:
      1- non updated photos where they don’t look anything like the person holding the ID
      2-it being snapped in half or even burned and selotaped back together!!!
      3- the d.o.b has worn away
      4- the picture has been too badly marked to see
      5-the pass logo has worn away
      6- its out of date

      it’s not just cards from other places its ANY CARD THAT IS NOT CLASSED AS VALID ID TO THE COMPANY

      stop taking it to heart just buy an ID from online or at your local city council house eg YOUNG SCOT CARD ( for anyone under 25)
      citizens card ( ANYONE OVER 16)
      they don’t cost much and they are accepted all over the UK

      instead of huffing and moaning on here you could of had valid ID by now!

      no one is being racist or discriminating,
      it doesn’t matter If your white blue green orange black blonde brunette have freckles blue eyes french english scottish irish polish…. or ANYTHING else. its just company policy that’s there’s to make it easier for colleagues to follow the rules.

      maybe you should all work in a shop how bout sainsburys and then you will see its not the colleagues or managers fault it’s just the policy’s they have.

      I had a UK ID once that was not valid anywhere I WAS SHOCKED … no I wasn’t I just bought another ID I could use ! 🙂

      • It’s funny how my id was okay to get a job at the co-operation as it was a valid I’d (dutch bte) but when I tried to buy cigarettes there after a week ( people didn’t know me yet) it all the sudden wasn’t ok. What if u don’t have the 50 quid to put down for a national citizen card. If this was you in any other country we would have been called backwards. Staff need to stop being so ignorant and naive.

  53. Same problem with Bulgarian ID buying wine at Sainsburys!!!! Trying to explain that I can cross borders, open bank account and use it as a proof of ID to rent a house does not matter to the cashier! On my explanation that EU card is widely accepted and pointless to carry around a passport with you, her suggestion was to get a UK provisional driving license!!! At this point I gave up on Sainsbury’s stupidity and walked away! It gets really disappointing that UK tries to advertise itself to international tourists and as a hub for businesses but yet unable to allow people to spend their money.

  54. all I can say I’d I’ve worked in a store (not sainsburys) for 5 years and I would not accept that either.
    BY LAW here in the UK you need either:
    drivers license
    or ID CARD
    BUT<<<<<< unless the ID card has a PASS LOGO on it then it is classed as INVALID
    no hologram pass- no sale
    it's to PROTECT any colleagues from the possibility of a sale to someone who has a fake ID as there are MANY going around.
    although you customers think that this is harsh the rules are there to make it easier for colleagues to distinguish what ID is fake and real and regardless of if its valid in another place in the world, if it doesn't match UK guidelines then it is not the shops fault. how bout buying a citizens card for like £10 if you live here its kinda common sense to have UK ID…. all I can say is IM NOT AWAY TO GET DONE WITH "selling someone without valid ID" and getting a criminal record because people can't be bothered to take the time to actually go find out what is valid and what is not. people should be more understanding at the fact the person who refused you was DOING THEIR JOB and you shouldn't be annoyed at them.

    • Well me and my wife are 28, literally emptied our wallets to show as many evidences as possible (including a valid French driving license) to show our good faith. Sometimes the staff is simply being too overzealous. I then complained to the customer service and got an apology from the manager.

      • driving liscence is accepted
        I never said it wasn’t

        but you have to remember that very country has different ID CARDS which I’m sure I I used a card that someone in another country had never seen before they would be wary and ID accept that and I have I just think in most of these circumstances that the people complaining could have researched the valid IDs to make sure
        heck up here we have young scot cards and some pubs and clubs don’t accept them regardless of the hologram pass because there are so many faked ones but that’s just life you get on with it …. I know there are people who have generally been mistreated and I’d be the first one to agree but in most of these cases it’s just like a lot of people nowadays have too much time on their hands that they just use to pick a fight I do however think that they were indeed wrong for not accepting a drivers liscence but these eu cards I’ve never seen one before and it would not be accepted. uk citizens cards used to be invalid in a lot of places until they made this whole “PASS” logo scheme
        maybe they should just make a card that is the same EVERYWHERE with a pass logo and then there would be no problem 🙂

        • yeah good idea; make everyone follow the british PASS idea instead of accepting foreign IDs. sure THAT’ll stop underaged drinking!

  55. there is the link get yourself PROPER ID and stop complaining about it
    If it bothered you that much you would have researched all the valid UK IDs that are accepted

    • While some people just want to get their weekly grocery done, others at the same time are getting drunk outside at the pub without even being bothered…
      If that make you feel like everybody in this country is doing his job intelligently are responsively, good for you.

      • i was born and raised here and I’ve worked in a shop for 5 years and I still get ID’d in the shop that i work in and my ID has been refused before(bare in mind I sell the alcohol and tobacco and work nightshift which means legally I have to be at least 18)
        it’s called LIFE it happens !
        you need to stop taking it so personally

        if this whole issue is that much of a problem for so many of you then do the smart thing just email the head office and ask them to send you a copy of all the IDs that are accepted so you can print it off and then you will be able to prove if you are (by their COMPANY POLICY) using VALID ID….. either that or contact your local council and put in a complaint or even just be nice and make a petition to validate eu cards or whatever … just don’t be so harsh on the staff because BELIEVE ME we have to take a hell of a lot of abuse from people and if you had to one day with the policy’s we have you’d have a little more respect … people forget that it’s people way higher up that the people that serve that make the rules …


  57. This happened to me today! I went to Saintsburys, always showing my national ID (Poland) and the assistant said, you need a passport but ill let this one slip…. THEN….. i argue with her its ridiculous, so she gets her manager, who says i need a passport!!!?? SInce when!? Then she takes the wine away, when she told me before she would sell it! im going to make an official complaint against the woman and Saintsburys!

  58. I was looking for some info on the internet, cause it just happened to me right now in ASDA, where two days ago i bought a jaggermaister bottle without any question. I am 26, spanish, with my id card, and my EUROPEAN driving licence, and the moron who was on the till denied my to buy 4 beers. 4 beers, that they weren’t even for me, but my housemate, an english guy. Next time, i will call the manager, and i will write them a reclamation for discrimination. Just UK guys can drink a beer in this country? 26 years old, for fuck sake.

  59. Don`t worry – You are not alone! My Passport run ut of date (Nov 2012). I presented my German ID for a CRB check… That was refused, as the CRB (Home Office Team) is regarding this document as not more than a bank statement! (regarded as Class 2 B document, for identification!) Also, my German Driving Licence (Full regarded to drive a vehicle in UK), is not a valid document for CRB check….
    NOW – it comes… : If I change my German DL into a British DL… (using at DVLA my fully accepted German ID card..!) I will get then within 2-3 weeks that full british licence (at £50).
    This EX-CHANGE Document then is FULLY accepted by ANYWHERE incl. CRB/Home Office!!! If THAT is NOT STUPID!!!! What Else ????? !!!!!

  60. U got served , they just wanted to discriminate. I have used my Belgian Id in Las Vegas casinos to prove I am over 21 & allowed to gamble.

  61. Passport should be an international accepctable card to identify anyone rather than voter id card or library card.

    photo id cards

  62. Unfortunately this is rather common here… Today I was at ASDA and I wanted to buy a pair of scissors, they asked me for my ID and they said that it had to be in English since they could not understand anything there. I gently explain to them where the date of birth was and that the date of birth is not in any language since they are just numbers. I also showed my european driving licence and they continue saying that they could not understand those words (in a despective way) I asked to talk to the manager and eventualy I could buy my pair of scissors but they kept saying that they don’t accept IDs in other languages. They suggested me to enrole for an “ASDA ID card” in orther to avoid further problems. I think this is stupid and of course I’m not going to get that card, it’s very easy to avoid further problems, I won’t go to buy there again.

    I am 27 years old and I have had this problem before, I’ve always bought what I wanted though but always threatening them to call the police or something like that. I am now tired and I’d like to do something about this. Does anyone here knows where I have to go to report this discrimination???

  63. Good to see a Belgian citizen at the receiving end of paperwork. As a non-EU citizen resident in the UK for the last 24 years, I have been unable to get a Schengen visa from the Belgian embassy. They don’t recognise most foreign passports! And this constant insistence on a birth certificate.

    Glad you got your wine though.

    And welcome to Europe!

  64. The Co-operative Food
    Ambrose Lloyd Centre
    CH7 1NH

    August 2013

    Cashier asked for ID for 4 bottles of Corona. I was surprised as I have not been asked for ID for about 5 years (I am 28!)

    I presented my Belgian driving licence.

    She said she cannot accept it. I asked ‘How come?’. She said ‘I don’t have to’. I asked to speak to the manager. He said it was not real ID. When I said that the British police and 27 member states accept this as ID he was very rude and said “not in this store”.

    The stupid thing is, I was going to pay with my Co-operative VISA Debit card!

    Completely and utterly discriminatory.

    I can’t believe a Christian couple running a B&B can be sent to prison for refusing to let a gay person stay in their B&B (completely fair for them to go to jail by the way), but a store manager can pick and chose who to serve in the shop. If I was black this would be a racist outcry.

    Discrimination against a European is still discrimination.

    Needless to say I was DISGUSTED at the treatment and will never shop there again.

    At least if he had been apologetic or polite about the matter it may not have hurt as much, but this he was rude, condescending, effectively calling me a liar (about my age) and a fraudster (about my ID not being real). Absolutely awful way to speak to someone.

  65. It was actually this food store, not the one in Mold:

    The Co-operative Food
    The Hwy
    CH5 3DN

  66. The same thing happend to me in Sainsburys in LONDON with my french ID. I just tweeted to sainsburys but they blocked my tweet!

    This has never happened to me, I have always shown my I’D card. This is discrimmination!

  67. This is proper discrimination, I just don’t understand how they can be so stupid to make a new internal policy that leads to a loss of customers….

  68. It happened to me the same in Sainsburys for a bottle of wine whereas I am 26 and I showed my French ID that wsn’t accepted. The worst thing is that I work in a wine agency and that Sainsburys is one of my customers. I just don’t understand how this internal policy could be legal whereas an European ID is a proof of identity and it is accepted everywhere but in Sainsburys. They are bloody stupid as they are loosing all the European immigrants as customers and god knows how much we appreciate wine. Let’s go to Marks and Spencer.

  69. I know its a bit of an old forum but this is still happening today, in stores and yes in Sainsbury. Im irish by the way and my girlfriend is Bulgarian both part of the eu and both have more brains than any english uneducated person. I am 30 and my girlfriend is 25 unfortunately I don’t look young so never get asked. But my girlfriend got asked by an uneducated english person (by the way thats most of them) sorry to say that but all the things that english say about the irish been stupid you would want to look at yourselves for once. I get some questions like do you drive on the same side of the road in ireland as uk. Yes we do because of english taken over ireland in the past. But to ask that question about your neighbouring country only 100km away that is very ignorant. She was buying a 15’s dvd for my christmas present she is 25 again. She got asked for id to buy a 15’s movie and they did not accept her bulgarian id card that she can travel europe with. Then the manager said they don’t accept it. But after they found out she was buying a DVD they said to the cashier that she should not of asked for id. Not to be violent but if I was there i would of been arrested and that would of been the first time by the way. It is not frustrating and dircriminate that they can do this. When is the eu going to step up to this kind of behavior or else just kick the uk out as they don’t want to be in it anyway.

    • It is madness that they do not allow the use of ID cards – however I think its more mad that you can be so racist. The person serving you does not make those rules! All the ‘uneducated English people’ do not make those rules.

      If we’re so full of ‘uneducated people’ why do you come here? I have absolutely no problem with foreign people living in this country – however I do have a problem with racists, and that does include discriminating against an English person. I would not come to Ireland (which I have done many times, and it is a beautiful country’ and berate most of your population.

      You need to learn to think before you speak.

      • Hi Jen, Unfortunately I get discriminated against and racist slurs most days hence why I don’t mind writing this on a forum. I am not sure you know the meaning of racist as I was just giving my experience. And even to say that its so racist is laughable. As I even called the people as English person which has no racism what so ever, but calling Irish Paddy’s that is racist. To tell you the truth it’s all true as well. “If we’re so full of ‘uneducated people’ why do you come here” I didn’t think it was this bad before I moved over. Also if you have read my whole comment you would of seen that the manager told the cashier she did not need to ask my girlfriend for ID to buy a 15 movie, So I am not sure what rules you are referring to. And by the way who does make the rules then? If you think that my comment was racist you sure leave in some fairytale land.

  70. I have had exactly the same . And I am from the Netherlands. I have been told as well that only my passport is accepted and I tried to explain that I do not own a passport as I can travel with my id card. If I am accepted by the border security and enter your country and pay the taxes I do why can’t I get accepted to buy my cigarettes. Then they handed me a citizen card brochure. You can imagine year I wasn’t pleased

  71. Even though the UK is a country full of tourists and immigrants from all over the world, they still have a huge difficulty in dealing with any issue that fall slighlty out of their British rules. My National ID card was refused twice, once in a night club and another one in a Co-Op. I do think this happens purely out of ignorance, as I have the strong impression that British citizens are poorly educated about Europe and European policies. They actually don’t consider themselves to be part of Europe, as they commonly talk about Europe as being a separate continent from the British Isles. I have had in the past comments from educated people, such as “how are you in the country if you don’t have a passport??” or “the card you sent us is not enough to prove your identity”, etc., by what I have to redirect them over and over again to the website of the UK Border Agency where these issues are clearly stated.

    There’s no point in coming here to complaint about it, because no one will care. But if everyone of these people sent an email to the Co-Op Management, to the UK Home Office and to the European Parliament (as I did), maybe after hundreds of people complaining about the same thing, something will eventually be done to avoid this kind of discrimination!

  72. Miss Brownies

    April 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Just happened 1/2hr ago. That’s the first time they’re not accepting my belgian ID. That’s ridiculous. I answered them “so basically if you are an EU citizen living in the UK and using your ID as a passport and don’t drive, you can’t buy a bottle of beer. That’s what I call discrimination”
    More of that results by a anxiety attack.


    Shop assistant was insensitive, but was following procedure.

  74. Bloody hell! I thought only Polish IDs were a problem! I’ve moved to the UK 5 years ago, and since then I’ve had 2 jobs where my ID wasn’t a problem at all when applying for a job or registering in a work agency, but recently I was offered a job in one of the British multinational clothing stores, and they said they’re not sure if my Polish ID is appropriate, and they wanted me to hand in my passport. What if I didn’t have a passport? That would certaily be a problem.

  75. There is always ONE ignorant idiot, no matter where you are. I was told today that UK banks will no longer accept ID cards to open an account. It seems to be a false information, although many bank employees will give the customer to be a very hard time. YOU have rights and they are all there in black and white, don’t stand for abuse. BTW. Gov.Uk states that a 16 years old can drink wine, cider or beer if you he/she is accompanied by an adult and are having a meal. ALSO, you are allowed to take pictures of your kid(s) at school, theatre or playground even if other children are there too. Laws and regulations are clear, they get distorted by morons.

  76. Hello Everyone,

    I know this is a very old post but I happened to stumble upon it when I was looking at what forms of ID I can accept for my job. I work as a welcome agent for many properties that are rented to tourists, and they must prove their ID before I can give them any keys to the room, flat or house that they have rented.

    Obviously I get many European visitors and even people from outside Europe. By the way, I am a British Citizen and have lived here all my life. I get ID’d all the time by the way, to by cigarettes and alcohol, even lighters and scissors.

    As someone who has to check Id’s as part of my job, and carry the responsibility of verifying the Identity of people staying in properties that are also used as people’s homes (when not rented out), and also as someone who was born here I think you should see things from our perspective.

    Firstly, I understand that it is frustrating that you are an adult, and are therefore perfectly within the law to purchase any age-restricted products in this country.


    1) The UK is a different country to the others in Europe. Just because we are in the European Union does not mean that EU countries all have the same rules and our own way of doing things in general. For example, British citizens MUST carry ID everywhere in other EU countries, something we’re not used to in the UK since there is no legal requirement to do so. So, we have to adapt to your rules when we visit your countries, so I don’t see how you cannot adapt to ours. We both do things differently.

    2) The UK takes underage drinking a lot more seriously than some other EU countries. At the age of 15 I walked into a bar in France and ordered a pint. Nobody even questioned my age. That would NEVER happen in the UK, you’d be lucky to set foot in a pub at 15 without getting questioned before you even got to order. As EU citizens, we must accept our different ways of doing things.

    3) I worked in retail, and I can tell you that you have to tolerate a lot of rude customers who believe that they can do what they want, and that you should do whatever they tell you to do. No, sorry, you listen to your boss, not the customer, otherwise you get sacked: SIMPLE AS. Even if you worked for Tesco and disagreed with the rule on EU IDs, by accepting an EU ID card you could get sacked straight away, so don’t question and hassle store staff who are just doing their job.

    4) In the UK, there are HEAVY penalties for businesses who do not take ‘Adequate measures’ to prevent underage sales of restricted goods and even more individual penalties for the person who sold it. It’s a lot easier to make sure that the ID is valid if you have only a few accepted types. Any new drivers licence issued in the EU follows the same template, so it’s fair enough that they are accepted as opposed to ID Cards. It would cost Sainsbury’s Millions of pounds to train their 55,000 shop workers about how to check EU ID cards, which means food prices go up for Everyone, even English people who aren’t even affected by this rule, so that’s not fair at all.

    Personally in my job I do accept EU ID cards as a valid form of ID, and as I said, I understand your frustrations, but in the UK you live by our rules, just Like I would have to live by French or Spanish rules if i moved there, Simple as that. The moral of the story, you carry your EU Driver’s licence which is accepted, and if you don’t have a drivers licence, you carry your national passport, also accepted. By the way, that’s what English people have to do as well, If we don’t have a drivers licence, we have to show our passport, even to just to buy a lighter. Or if you don’t have a drivers licence and fancy a night out clubbing, you have to take your passport to the club. It may seem stupid, but it’s not for you to tell Businesses how to ensure that they don’t break the law by selling to someone underage.

    Sorry, I know it’s like the LONGEST post in the world, but it’s good to see things from both sides sometimes. ALSO, Im not anti EU or UKIP or anything like that, I am British, but in my genes include French and my dad is half Polish.

  77. Quote from wikipedia:
    “For example, where a supermarket in the UK refuses to accept a German national identity card as proof of age when a German citizen attempts to purchase an age-restricted product and insists on the production of a UK-issued passport or driving licence or other identity document, the supermarket would, in effect, be discriminating against this individual on this basis of his/her nationality in the provision of a service, thereby contravening the prohibition in Art 20(2) of Directive 2006/123/EC of discriminatory treatment relating to the nationality of a service recipient in the conditions of access to a service which are made available to the public at large by a service provider.[36]”

    I have Polish ID card and was refused to be served in local pub. I’m going back there tomorrow and show them this.


  78. I work at Sainsbury’s, they do accept any passport, anything with the pass logo on or any valid national ID card, or any valid driving licence.

  79. At the time of posting this Blog, the shop assistant was wrong. If ID card is good enough for British Border Agency to allow people in, they are good enough for anyone else. In fact, most Banks had details on line stating that ID cards were accepted. This has changed some six months ago – all financial institutions require a passport now!

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