Dear Edinburgh club scene, please hurry up and accept my PASS card

The government is clear on this – PASS cards SHOULD be accepted


I’ve waited until I was 19 to finally apply for my first provisional licence – my own stupidity on that front, I know. To do this, I had to send away my passport leaving me ID-less.

However, I’m not the only one. Apparently twenty per cent of British citizens don’t have a passport (Office for National Statistics, 2013), and 40 per cent don’t have a licence (Office for National Statistics, 2011). Being the huge proportions they are, it’s hard to imagine there’s no cross over of people who don’t have either, at least at one point in time. For example, me.

So what are they supposed to do? As far as I’m concerned I’m not really bothered, I only need it for clubbing and drinking, and it’s fair to say I can do without that for a while, but what about all the actual adults trying to do actual adult things?

They won’t be able to apply for medical or social security or a job, rent or buy a house, get on a plane, get married or get a pet. They can’t even get a prescription or donate blood. It’s pretty hard to just tell those people to get their finger out and get a passport when just a renewal can cost up to £100 and you won’t even receive it for a month – in fact, just getting a licence costs just under £50 as well.

So, for me, and anyone without a UK licence who has the common sense to not take their passport out and about with them, I heard that the PASS card was a cheap, low risk, convenient, government-backed option. Yes, government-backed. However, for some reason Edinburgh bouncers, especially on George Street, won’t accept it, telling me to ‘just bring my passport’ and saying it’s ‘not legit’. Here’s why it is:

First, here’s a statement from the provider, particularly aimed at licensed Scottish clubs, since they’re pretty much the only unjustified places that seem to have a problem conforming:

“City of Edinburgh Licensing policy P38 26.5 – lists PASS cards as an acceptable form of ID. All licensed premises in Edinburgh should be aware of PASS cards especially as (unlike England and Wales) PASS cards are actually enshrined in Scottish alcohol licensing legislation likewise all SIA (Security Industry Agency) registered door staff should know what a PASS card is as it forms part of their training more so because the SIA actually has their logo on the cards along with the trading standards institute and police.”

There goes the first rebuttal I got of ‘it’s not legit’. And for the next one of ‘just bring your passport’:

“January 21st, 2016 saw HMP Passport Office with the Home Office announce their wish for people not to take passports out to pubs and clubs; this originates from 51% of all passports that go missing in the UK are lost by young people in pubs and clubs thus causing an obvious national and personal security risk.”

If you really don’t trust us with straws in our VKs, who are you to turn around and say we’re fine carrying our passports around. Pick a side.

To say it’s probably fake is a weak excuse from someone who doesn’t know you need to fork over your passport, birth certificate and proof of address all signed by a doctor to get a PASS card. Which is, incidentally, often more complicated than what’s required for a licence (at least from my experience, since they just wanted my passport), so if you’re going to refuse a PASS because it’s not legit, you better kick out everyone inside with a driving licence too.

Saying the card is easily forged is biting off your nose to spite your face, since it suggests your SIA logo is that accessible to fraud.

The only thing you and your door staff need to worry about is whether there’s a hologram or not – if it’s good enough for the 2003 Licensing Act, it should be good enough for you:

In Scotland the law says the only forms of acceptable proof of age are a driving licence, a PASS hologram card, and a passport” (Baxter (BBC), 2011)

The Licensing Act 2003…. Identification in these cases must be photographic and have a date of birth and a hologram – so you’ll need to bring your passport, driving licence, or a PASS (Proof of Age Standards Scheme) card” (Butterly (BBC), 2015)

On top of that, the Association of Chief Police Officers, like the Security Industry Authority, have tied their name to the scheme, literally on the card itself. Along with the UK government – just putting that out there again.

Even the BBC recognises the validity and pushes for wider acceptance outside of Scotland – you know, those backwards parts of the UK where the scheme isn’t intrinsically, indisputably enshrined in law. What more do you want?

As for the bizarre, and again unfounded claim that PASS cards are easily forged:

“…to date, says PASS, there is no evidence that the PASS hologram has ever been forged or used on fake ID cards” (Papworth (The Guardian), 2011).

Show me your sources, Edinburgh club scene. Because the evidence suggesting PASS has never been used in a forgery makes it more reliable than any apparent provisional licence, with precise fakes including holograms and UV security available online for £10 deposits.

I honestly think I would have had an easier time and a higher chance of being accepted on those than with a PASS – is that really the message you want to send?

“…the licensing law in Scotland makes it clear that PASS cards, like passports and driving licences, are acceptable as proof of age. “The Scottish law leaves no room for doubt as to the legitimacy of PASS cards and avoids any room for confusion with fake ID,” says Winstanley [PASS director]” (Papworth (The Guardian), 2011)

All that being said, a club manager informed me it’s at the discretion of the venue to decide what kind of identification they want to accept. Apparently, even if that means undermining an amendment to Scottish law made for the sole purpose of increasing widespread use of PASS validated cards.

But it’s suggested the bureaucratic ladder of identification responsibility grows higher still:

‘In line with our company policy at Caledonian Heritable we only accept valid Driving Licenses or Passports’

This was the statement given, and echoed by other venues, when Why Not were asked for their stance on acceptable ID, and where PASS cards came in to it all. Caledonian Heritable, who own almost 300 pubs, clubs and bars in and around Edinburgh appears to be the route of this problem. As good as it is to know who to ask finally, there’s still no valid reason given.

To accept driving licences and passports but not PASS cards in Scotland, with them being so unquestionably endorsed to just the same degree in law, just seems so odd. The law is clear on this, so it begs the question why big companies blatantly ignore the guidelines set out.