1. The threat

Terrorists have used false identities when planning attacks. Terrorist and criminal organisations are able to print false passports and other identity documents, which can be used to enter the UK illegally, obtain employment, banking, housing, access to sites and hire vehicles for unlawful purposes. 


Document awareness


2. Identity document fraud

Identity document fraud can be conducted in a number of ways. Most cases of identity document misuse relate to passport fraud.

Here are three ways in which identity fraud can be conducted using documents:


Document awareness


2.1 Imposters

This is the simplest type of document fraud, where the ‘holder’ is simply a look-a-like, and the document is often not altered at all.


2.2 Counterfeits

A counterfeit document is usually made from scratch to resemble an officially issued document. The quality of counterfeits can vary greatly and high-quality counterfeits can be difficult to identify.


2.3 Forgeries

A forged document is a genuine document which has been altered for a criminal purpose. Altering photographs and personal details are common examples, but pages, visas and stamps may also be forged.


3. Document verification

Document verification is the process of making sure that documents presented are genuine and that the holder is the rightful owner. It is also an integral part of the pre-employment screening process. Staff responsible for checking documents should be provided with the knowledge and tools needed to confirm their authenticity, and identify basic forgeries. It is important that your document verification processes are integrated within the wider pre-employment screening policies.


4. Training

You should consider the training needs of staff who check documents, specifically:

  • how much knowledge/experience do they already have?

  • what sort of training might they require?

  • how frequently should this training be refreshed?


5. Document checking

It is essential that all documents are examined thoroughly. To guard against identity fraud and forgery, the document verification process should be explained to all applicants as part of the recruitment process, highlighting which documents are requested and why. It is important to outline how important document verification is to your organisation and that you will seek to confirm the authenticity of relevant documentation.

Application processes must make it clear that applicants who cannot provide the required documentation will not be employed (except for cases where a reasonable explanation can be provided), particularly where their right to work in the UK must be verified.


For more detailed information please refer to the Home Office Guidance on examining identity documents 2023

National Security
Personal Security
Suspicious Behaviour
PALs Guidance
publicly accessible locations
ProtectUK publication date