I've read that a shop can refuse for any reason but I have a suspicion this may be discrimination in my case.

I'm a 23yr old black guy and I live in Ireland. I'm frequently told by family, friends, etc... that I don't even look over 18yrs old and look to be in my teens.

This has led me to getting denied alcohol in a store twice even with a valid identification. The first time this happened was when I was 19yrs old and the shop assistant asked me for another form of I.D. I didn't have it, so she refused the sale.

Ever since then I started carrying around my Irish passport as an I.D. and so far, it has worked. But last week I wanted to buy nicotine gum, which is age-restricted. I showed the sales assistant my age card and she didn't believe me, so I showed her my passport and she said that she still couldn't accept it.

Surely that has to be discrimination, right? I was even told by a manager in another Tesco that I would be fine with two forms of valid I.D.

  • You mention being black. Do you believe this contributed to not being served? Commented May 25, 2021 at 11:56

2 Answers 2


One official form of ID should be enough. Two pieces of ID is more than most people ever carry. And not selling to you because you’re black would be illegal discrimination.

But that would be hard to prove. The most likely explanation is stupidity. Or lack of training. Might be an employee who is already deep into overtime, or just not mentally present. Some people go on auto-pilot and if you showed them an age card that isn’t accepted that’s fixed in their brain. Or maybe the passport photo doesn’t look like you.

If it is an unusual form of ID like a 100% valid Japanese driving license, or a damaged passport, or a library card, those might be reasonably rejected. The best course of action would be to ask for the manager. The manager should either be able to give you a sensible reason why your passport is not acceptable, or give you the goods. And if not, your case for illegal discrimination is much stronger if a supposedly competent manager refuses to serve you.

(Reading the other answer: Obviously if you are too young to buy the item, which is not true in your case, then showing 100 legal IDs wouldn't get you the item. And if you look so young that a reasonable person would think it's more likely that your ID is an excellent forgery than you being 18, they could deny the sale).



The Liquor Act 2007 prohibits the sale or supply (s117), consumption (s118) of liquor or, in some circumstances (s123) entry to licenced premises.

It is a defence to these offences if:

  1. the minor is above the age of 14, and
  2. the defendant was provided with an evidence of age document that may reasonably be accepted as applying to the person and as proving that the person was of or above the age of 18 years.

Liquor & Gaming NSW lists acceptable proof of age documents and recommendations for assessing their validity. Any one of which "may reasonably be accepted" if a reasonable person would accept that it isn't a forgery and the minor is 15 or over. However, the proprietor always has to make those determinations for themselves and they are allowed to err on the side of caution. If they think you might be 14 or under they are allowed to refuse service.

Similar rules apply to tobacco products.

By the way, sellers or liquor and tobacco must be 18 or over and for the former, have Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training.

  • 1
    "If they think you might be 14 or under they are allowed to refuse service": even if they show a pattern of refusing service on that basis to black people between the minimum age and 23 years, but not to white people? (I'm not saying that such a pattern exists here, of course.)
    – phoog
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 3:34
  • 2
    So if a buyer is 15 and shows an exceptionally good forged ID, the seller is in the clear, but if they are 14 and shows the same forged ID, the seller is punished? Interesting.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 11:32
  • @gnasher729 I think the legislative intent is to force the RSA person to engage their brain.
    – Dale M
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 12:01

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