Being able to prove your identity is crucial in everyday life so the UK has comprehensive legislation both to protect the use and prevent the abuse of identity documents including the Identity Documents Act 2010 [1].

identity documents
identity documents


The Act covers most types of identity documents including:

  • driving licences
  • passports (issued by the UK or any other country)
  • registration cards and most other types of immigration documents


This Act is important because rather than dealing solely with the actual identity document (such as forgery) it establishes criminal offences relating to providing and using the “personal information” contained in those identity documents. Personal information is defined, (section 8 of the Act[2]) as

  • full name, including any previous name
  • date and place of birth
  • gender
  • addresses (current and previous)
  • residential status
  • any “external characteristics” which can identify someone (such as physical information which appears on a passport)


The Act creates several criminal offences including:

(1) Possession of false identity documents with improper intention[3]

Section 4 makes it a criminal offence to be in possession of a false identity document intending to

– use it to establish personal information about yourself or

– allow or induce anybody else to use that personal information to establish, ascertain or verify personal information either about yourself or about someone else

To minimise excuses, you will be guilty of this offence if you know or believe that the document

– is false

– was improperly obtained

– relates to somebody else

So buying from a website that sells fake driving licences intending to use it means that you will be guilty of this offence irrespective of whether you have actually used it or not.

If you are convicted you could be in prison for up to 10 years or fined, or both.

(2) Possession of someone else’s identity documents[4]

This offence takes things further because it is not just about fake documents. If you have someone else’s identity document (such as their driving licence or passport) in your possession without a reasonable excuse, then you can be guilty of an offence. It doesn’t matter

  • whether the identity document is false or genuine or
  • whether or not you intended to use it

Whilst you being responsible for booking a holiday may be a “reasonable excuse” for carrying your sister’s passport in your handbag, there will not be many reasonable excuses for having a stranger’s driving licence in your wallet.

If you are convicted you could be in prison for up to 2 years or fined, or both.



The consequences will last your lifetime, well beyond imprisonment

  • career choices will be limited (you probably won’t ever be able to work some sectors such as health/medical)
  • you may never be able to study your chosen course at college or university
  • you’re unlikely to get a visa to travel to certain other countries, even for a holiday

Before you buy, own or use fake ID, think about whether it’s really worth it.