In April 2021, Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) introduced changes to the type of identification (ID) that you will need to provide when you go to visit a loved one in prison. These changes have been made to help make prison visits safer and more secure for everyone. The changes apply to adult visitors over the age of 16 years. 

As in-person prison visits start to reopen, we explain what you need to know about the updated ID requirements. You can also download the official HMPPS poster to give you an overview of the changes.

What are the new ID rules?

You will still need to bring one or more forms of identification with you to all your prison visits.

If you have photographic identification (ID with your name and picture on - for example, a passport or driving licence) then you will only need to show this one form of ID. 

If you do not have photographic identification, you will need to show two different forms of ID before you are allowed to visit. 

What type of photographic ID can I use?

You can use any one of the following documents with your photograph on:

  • Your passport.
  • An identity card from a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country.
  • A UK photocard driving licence.
  • An Northern Ireland Electoral identity card.
  • A United States passport card.
  • A proof of age card recognised under the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) with a unique reference number. This includes the Citizen Card. Remember: Prisoners' families can get a 50% discount on the cost of a Citizen Card by using the discount code 'PACT' when applying online. 
  • An Armed Forces identity card
  • A UK biometric residence permit (BRP).

What if I don't have photographic ID? Can I use something else?

If you aren't able to provide one of the ID documents listed above, you will need to provide two different forms of ID.

One of these forms of ID must be:

  • A Home Office travel document (convention travel document, stateless person's document, one-way document or a certificate of travel).
  • An older person's bus pass.
  • A Freedom Pass.
  • Proof of age card recognised under the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) without a unique reference number.

In addition to one of the above documents, you will also need to provide one of the items from the following list:

  • Your birth or adoption certificate.
  • An education certificate from a regulated and recognised educational institution (such as an NVQ, SQA, GCSE, A Level or degree certificate)
  • A rental or purchase agreement for a residential property (signed and dated).
  • Your marriage or civil partnership certificate.
  • A bank, building society or credit union current account card (which has your name on it).

Any combination of the above documents should be accepted, but you will need one from the first list, and one from the second list.

Example 1: You could provide your Freedom Pass and your marriage certificate. 

Example 2: You could provide your proof of age card and your building society current account card.

I have two documents from the first list, can I use both of those instead?

Unfortunately not. You must have one document from the first list and one document from the second list. If you can't provide both of these forms of ID, then you may be refused entry to the prison.

What if I do not have the right ID? What if I don't have any ID?

All visitors to a prison, including legal visitors, need to provide one or more forms of identification before they will be allowed into the prison. 

In exceptional circumstances, if you do not have access to any of the ID listed above, you can ask permission to attend a visit in advance from the duty Governor at the prison. You will need to provide a reason why you don't have the appropriate ID. Each case will be reviewed individually.  

If you need ID urgently, you could consider applying for a Citizen Card. An urgent application takes 1 - 2 working days and costs £30. You can also make an appointment to apply for same-day ID for a cost of £40. Standard applications cost £18 and take up to 21 days to process. Prisoners' families can get a discount on the cost of a Citizen Card by using the discount code 'PACT' when applying online.

Find out more

Published: 21st May 2021