How to spot fake documents

Over the years there has been a large increase in the number of fake documents that have been produced as proof of identity or right to work. This section aims to help employers to spot fake documents.

Note for employers: a new UK passport design was released by the UK Government in 2020. A new design for the UK Driving Licence and the UK Biometric Residence Permit were released in January 2021.


Be aware that many countries will have different issue types of passport.  The designs of these may change regularly.  Validity periods for passports can also vary.

Passports come in the form of a booklet and the quantity of page numbers may vary.  Most countries passports should comply with rules set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation to enable them to be machine readable.

The biographical data page relating to the holder may be made of paper or be a polycarbonate page insert.

The UK has issued 3 designs of passports since 2010.  The latest design released in 2020 was the first UK passport to include a polycarbonate biographical data page. Be aware that countries are always updating their passport designs.

Most passports contain a number of security features.  These can include, but not limited to:

  • Holograms
  • Transparent holograms
  • Complex background print
  • A Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) containing the holders encoded data
  • Unique fonts
  • Unique Ultra Violet features
  • Tactile features, especially where the document is made from polycarbonate

When examining a passport it is always wise to consult comparison material.  This can be viewed at:

Driving licences

Since 2007 the UK have issued polycarbonate driving licence cards which comply with the European Union standard driving licence model.  There have been multiple issues of driving licence all of a very similar design which comply with the standard.  However, in 2021 the UK left the European Union and a new design was issued.  The design of this model is not too different from the previous issue.

Just like passports there are multiple different designs of driving licence for other countries.  European Union countries comply with a set standard which covers its layout and the security features which must be included.

UK and European Union driving licences will often include security features such as:

  • Tactile features, such as raised print
  • Transparent holograms embedded into the substrate
  • Unique fonts
  • Complex background print

When examining a driving licence it is always wise to consult comparison material.  This can be viewed at:

Biometric residence permit

The UK has been issuing a credit card sized polycarbonate biometric residence permit for many years.  These documents have historically been of a pink and blue coloured design to comply with European Union standards.  However, in 2021 the UK left the European Union and has since issued a completely new design.  It is of a credit card size and contains the holders biometric identifiers and details of their right to remain and work in the UK.

Biometric residence permits will contain:

  • A machine readable zone (MRZ) containing the holders encoded data
  • Tactile features
  • A transparent hologram embedded into the substrate
  • Unique fonts

When examining a BRP it is always wise to consult comparison material. This can be viewed at:

Other documents

EU photo identification card

Inspect the card for photo tampering or amendments for printed personal details.

HM forces ID card

Inspect the card for photo tampering or amendments for printed personal details.


If letters and statements are being used for proof of address, ensure they are recent, within the last three-month period. 

Pay extra attention to the letter headed paper that is used.


If you start to receive mail from someone you do not recognise, ensure you try and find out why.

In most cases lenders will use the electoral roll to check who is registered as living at a particular address. To prevent this from occurring you would need to tick ‘optout’ of the ‘edit’ register. This will prevent unsolicited marketing mail or junk mail.  Note. This will not affect your credit checks.

Other measures:
- Do not leave your mail in communal areas.
- Ask mail to be redirected when moving residences.

Report an issue
If you believe you've been the victim of an identity fraud, please report it using our online fraud reporter tool below.
Start now