Official TIPS Alcohol Certification Blog
September 20, 2021

ID Checking and “Carding” During COVID-19 and Beyond

Welcome to the new normal! Depending on where you live and where that region is on the COVID-19 trajectory, you’ve noticed some changes. In particular, it’s recommended (if not mandated) that a mask or face covering be worn when you are in a situation where you may come within a six foot proximity of other people. Yes, social distancing

It’s fun to see friends posting images of their homemade masks, selfies from their latest grocery store excursion or posts about how weird it feels to wear a mask for everyday activities. But never would we ever have expected someone to post how they went to a liquor store with a mask and hat on and was able to make a purchase without removing either for an identification check! AND then said person went on to post “Underage kids should take note.” Shocking!

After getting up off the floor and reading the post again, let’s be clear…THAT IS NOT AN ID CHECK!

Time for a little re-education! It is your responsibility as a business owner or employee of a business that sells alcohol beverages to verify the identification of the person who is purchasing the alcohol beverages. PERIOD.

We’ve heard all the questions:

  1. How am I supposed to check ID?
  2. Do I have to check ID if they purchased online and are picking it up…or we are delivering it?
  3. Can I sell to someone who is underage?
  4. Can I give the purchased product to someone who is underage?
  5. What do I do if their identification is expired?

The answers are:

  1. Yes
  2. Absolutely
  3. Not before COVID-19 and not now
  4. No way
  5. Obey the law and refuse the sale

So what do you do? You’ve already made some adjustments in your business model, procedures and safety protocol in order to keep your business open and keep employees and patrons safe – sanitizing per CDC guidelines, providing staff with protective equipment, offering delivery or pickup and installing barriers at checkouts. Just make sure your carding practices have been updated to accommodate the current situation as well. 

Remember, if selling alcohol beverages, the identification check is most important step to protect your business from liability and the public by prohibiting access to alcohol to underage people or those exhibiting signs of intoxication. Requesting identification and ensuring that you can identify that the person behind the mask is the person on the ID will be a challenge and your determination may be subjective. While some state IDs provide other physical information (e.g., height and weight, eye and hair color) that can assist in making an assessment, it’s prudent to train your staff with alternatives methods if they can’t make a determination.

Alternatives to the previous interaction with customers and their identification:

  1. First and foremost, always remember that you have the right to REFUSE a purchase or delivery as per your employers guidelines or your assessment that:
    • The person making the purchase is exhibiting signs of intoxication.
    • The accompanying persons are underage, does not have identification with them, the purchase is likely a third-party purchase or your company policy is to not complete the sale if the accompanying persons are not of legal age to purchase.
  2. For pickup orders:
    • Request that the customer remove the identification from the wallet or holder and show you both sides of the identification for your inspection from the safety of their vehicle with the window closed.
    • Request that the customer hold the identification at eyelevel, lower their mask and allow you to compare.
      • If necessary, while wearing gloves, ask to allow you to handle the identification.
      • If the identification is from out of state, refer to ID Checking Guide or scan with identification reader if your employer provides one.
    • If they are picking up alcohol with other people, request the same of all parties to ensure that alcohol beverages are not being provided to underage persons.
    • Place their order in the vehicle trunk to ensure alcohol beverages are not opened during transport.
  3. For delivery orders:
    • Obtain the identification information from the person at the time of the order so that it can be relayed to the delivery driver for verification.
    • Upon delivery, do not hand over the food and alcohol order without verifying the identification appropriately as noted above.
      • If there appear to be individuals who are underage, use your best judgment to ensure the alcohol beverages are not intended for those underage individuals.
      • If your employer policy dictates, check the IDs for all parties prior to delivering the order.
    • Adhere to a touchless delivery by leaving the items for the customer by the door after verification is completed.
  4. For in store purchases:
    • Following safety protocol and request that identification is removed from wallet or holder for viewing.
    • If there is a barrier in place at the register and other customers are adhering to social distancing while in line, request that the customer lower their mask enough for identification to be verified if you are unable to do so without it.
    • If necessary, request the identification to verify that it is original. Follow sanitizing protocol afterward and before receiving another customer.

It is your responsibility to ensure ID checks are taking place. Use reasonable precautions and make appropriate assessments based on the information provided. We understand that is a disruption to the efficiency of transactions prior to COVID-19 but these steps are prudent to ensure that you and your staff are adhering to legal requirements, protecting your business and protecting the public from intoxication, underage access to alcohol and drunk driving.

If your business model has changed and you need some additional training, TIPS is pleased to offer an alcohol delivery and pick-up training component within our eTIPS Off Premise and Delivery certification course. The training includes tips on delivering alcohol legally, delivery policies, handling a refusal situation, and ID checking. To learn more, visit

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