What Is an Age Verification System and Why Incorporate It Into Your Business

Age verification systems are an integral part of remote onboarding in many industries where the age of customers is regulated. Alcohol and tobacco companies, gaming and dating websites, and financial organizations require users to confirm their age to comply with the law.

In this article, we will discuss how remote age verification systems work, what different kinds there are, and what industries need to implement them.

Industries that require age verification

Industries that commonly require age verification include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco: These industries are heavily regulated by governments worldwide. Selling alcohol or cigarettes to minors can result in losing licenses, hefty fines, or even imprisonment.
  • Energy drinks and supplements: In some countries, products like energy drinks and dietary supplements containing high levels of caffeine and other stimulants are considered health risks and are only sold to adults.
  • Gambling and gaming: Many nations prohibit minors from accessing gambling and online gaming platforms to protect them from potential dangers, such as gambling addiction.
  • Adult materials: Age verification is essential to prevent minors from accessing sexually explicit content.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Certain medications are restricted to adults to prevent potential health risks, with regulations varying by country.
  • Firearms and ammunition: Purchasing firearms requires customers to be legal adults.

Does your industry require age verification? If so, continue reading this article.

What is an age verification system?

With the shift towards a digital environment, the importance of online age verification is increasing. This process can range from simply entering a birth date when registering for a new app to scanning a passport for a bank to validate age.

Age verification systems come in various forms. The most straightforward solutions include checkboxes where users confirm they are over 18. Verification can also be conducted via video calls, where a client or job candidate shows their ID and answers a few questions.

More advanced solutions use document and face recognition technologies, leveraging neural networks trained on vast amounts of sample data. These networks can automatically recognize key information in an image and process user data within seconds, without requiring human intervention.

What can age verification be used for?

Age verification is often integrated with KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures, which are mandatory for onboarding new customers in banking and other highly regulated industries. In such cases, verifying an individual’s age is just one aspect of identity verification.

Age verification is also necessary in industries like e-commerce, where KYC regulations may not apply but age-sensitive products and services are sold. While verifying customers’ identities isn’t required, businesses must ensure they are dealing with adults.

Additionally, age verification can be used for authorization as an extra security measure. For instance, online casinos might verify that the person attempting to log into an account is the same person who created it by implementing a selfie check. This prevents minors from logging in, even if they have access to a parent’s device, password, or ID.

In some cases, knowing a customer’s age is essential, but requesting ID for verification is excessive. For example, supermarkets might collect customer age information to understand their target audience better. They don’t need to match the age to a specific customer but could use smart cameras to gather statistical data. Face recognition technologies enable this, though it may conflict with legal requirements in some countries.

Methods of online age verification

Now, let’s take a closer look at the different methods for verifying a person’s age in the digital space.


This type of age verification relies on the user honestly stating their age. While it is the easiest method to implement, it primarily serves as a way for businesses to protect themselves legally rather than genuinely safeguarding minors.

Since users can easily lie to gain access, this method should only be used in low-risk scenarios and never in regulated industries.

Credit card check

Another method to verify age is by asking users to provide their credit card number. For instance, Google may use this to confirm a user’s age for accessing restricted content or services. This method’s advantage is that it doesn’t require disclosing private information like ID details and is relatively simple.

The underlying logic is that possessing a credit card indicates the user is over 18. However, while this might have been reliable in the past, today it should only serve as an additional security measure. In many countries, children can have bank cards linked to their parents’ accounts, so it’s best to combine this method with others.

Photo check

Companies can use machine learning models based on neural networks to verify a client’s age from a photo. They can also match an applicant’s image against a database of already registered clients or unreliable customers if such lists exist.

A critical factor here is having a database of verified clients for comparison. Currently, determining age from a photo is still somewhat imprecise, with a margin of error up to ten years. This method can distinguish between a child and an adult but can’t guarantee the precise age of a young adult.

Thus, photo checks are not reliable as a standalone verification method. They should be combined with other methods, such as ID document checks, to be effective. Additionally, photo checks involve advanced machine learning technologies, making them costly.

ID document check

Online ID document checks are among the most reliable age verification methods. Advanced OCR engines can remotely examine a scanned copy of a user’s ID and validate the holder’s age if necessary. These tools perform lexical analysis of the extracted data to determine the person’s age based on the date of birth in the document.

Companies in regulated fields typically use automated document checks. For them, age verification is one scenario among many, often including automated onboarding, data entry, and compliance tasks (KYC, AML).

These solutions can fetch information from the visual inspection zone (e.g., name, date of birth, passport number) and validate different document security features, such as the MRZ and barcodes.

Regula Document Reader SDK, one of the most advanced solutions, automatically captures the document, analyzes it, and verifies the age is consistent across all data sources and meets requirements. It works with over 12,000 types of identity documents from 248 countries and performs additional verification of electronic RFID chips, ensuring both age verification and overall document authentication.

ID document check combined with biometric check

Biometric checks elevate secure identity document verification by ensuring the document belongs to its holder. Users are asked to take a selfie, and the images are compared with photos in the documents.

A liveness check is essential to confirm that a real, live person is in front of the camera, not a recording or realistic mask, especially given the advancements in visual technologies and deepfakes.

During these procedures, trained systems can also estimate a person’s age and flag potential minors. This is a feature of Regula Face SDK, which automatically detects a face in a selfie taken during onboarding and analyzes significant attributes of the person’s appearance, such as age.

In conclusion, combining identity documents and biometric checks provides the most reliable and comprehensive method to verify a person’s identity, confirm their ID, and ensure they are of legal age.

Why a combination of ID document and biometric checks is the most effective method to verify age

When the stakes are high, using biometric and ID checks together is the most effective way to verify a person’s age. Here’s why:

Improved compliance

Age verification is often mandated by law to ensure that businesses adhere to age restrictions set by regulators. Failing to comply can result in legal penalties, fines, and even the revocation of licenses. Combining document verification with biometric checks helps align with regulations in most countries.

Identity theft prevention

Utilizing document and biometric checks for age verification helps businesses prevent fraudsters from using fake or stolen identities to purchase age-restricted products or services.

Establishing corporate responsibility

Businesses have a duty to protect vulnerable individuals, such as children and teenagers, from the risks associated with age-restricted products or services. Robust age verification goes beyond formality and is essential for fulfilling this responsibility.

Better market reputation

Selling age-restricted products or services to minors is unethical and can result in negative media coverage, public backlash, and a loss of customer trust. Implementing reliable, hard-to-trick age verification systems can help avoid these issues.

Ensuring legal protection

Businesses selling age-restricted products or services can be held liable for any harm caused to minors who access these products or services. Age verification that includes both ID and biometric checks can mitigate this risk and protect businesses from legal liability.

How to implement age verification in your business

Age verification systems range from simple pop-ups to complex procedures involving biometric verification. There is no universal solution. Each company determines the level and type of protection that suits its industry requirements and jurisdiction.

Paul Petersen

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