Age Verification System: Definition, Processes, and Usage

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An age verification system allows an online vendor to block sales to minors. If you work in a sensitive industry with products that aren't right for younger people, a system like this could help you avoid fines, reputation problems, or both. 

How does age verification work?

A young-looking person wants to enter a popular hotspot. The gatekeeper asks for government-issued identification before allowing the person to join the party. Online age verification systems work a lot like this.

Age verification requires placing some kind of barrier between a shopper and your services. You might require your visitors to provide:

  • Government identification. A driver’s license, identification card, or other legal document displays the user’s name, photograph, and date of birth. The system uses those data points to verify age. 
  • Credit cards. Most banks won’t issue credit cards to young people. A user flashing a card has already proven age with the bank. 
  • Knowledge. Some companies develop questions only older people can answer. Correct answers allow entry.

You could pop up barriers before allowing anyone to shop. Or, you could put them up before anyone can access the homepage of your website. 

How would age verification help you?

Sales teams are unaccustomed to placing barriers before shoppers. But deploying age verification could be smart for your business. 

Consider this. In 2020, as communities grappled with coronavirus lockdowns, online alcohol vendors experienced triple-digit sales growth. If any of those sales took place in Oregon and a minor was involved, fines start at $200. If a company made sales to hundreds, those fines could put them out of business.

Reputation damage could also follow sales to minors. Few adults want to support a business that contributes to damaging young people.

Is age verification required?

You may work in an industry that can serve anyone of any age. But if you're in a sensitive field, you might be required to keep some customers away.

You might need age verification systems if you sell:

  • Tobacco 
  • Alcohol
  • Vaping supplies 
  • Online games 
  • Pornography 

Your need for systems could be mandated by law. Such systems are required in:

  • The United States. Several laws apply. States have legislation regarding drugs and alcohol. And federal laws prohibit the sale of obscene items (like pornographic movies or games) to minors.
  • The United Kingdom. The Digital Economy Act of 2017 includes provisions about pornography and minors. Age verification can help you comply. 
  • China. The real-name system is designed to ensure young people don't spend too much time on electronic games. Age verification is vital here. 

This is just a sampling of the laws you might encounter as a website vendor. It's wise to understand your legislative environment so you don't break laws. Ignorance isn't bliss here.

At Okta, we offer an Identity Proofing product that includes age verification. It's easy to install and use, and it could be vital to your business. Learn how it works.


eCommerce Drives Triple-Digit Growth in Alcohol Sales. (June 2020). Beverage Industry.

What Every Store Clerk Needs to Know About Selling Alcohol. (August 2019). Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Citizen's Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Obscenity. (May 2020). United States Department of Justice. 

Digital Economy Act of 2017. GOV.UK.

China Requires Players to Use Their Real Name in Online Games as Real-Name Verification System to Be Launched by September. (August 2020). Tech Times.