How To Check If a Passport Is Fake



Fraudulent and counterfeit documents such as fake Passports and Drivers License can pose a significant risk to the UK and businesses. With an increase of 70% of identified fake passport documents at borders, this still poses a massive problem and begs the question of how to check if a passport is fake. With creating these documents becoming increasingly sophisticated, spotting fake ones is becoming increasingly difficult.

It poses a security risk to the UK, costing the economy millions each year. As well as the potential of allowing people to conduct illegal activity such as fraud and money laundering, as a business, you could be fined for selling goods to a person under the age of 18 who has a counterfeit ID, or for providing professional services to someone who is money laundering. As well as this, people can commit fraud and steal from businesses and individuals by pretending to be someone that they aren't. We have written about identity theft here.

Having the know-how and the tools to identify fake IDs and passports is becoming necessary when operating a business, where the financial risk is so significant if something is missed. Fortunately, there are tech-based solutions specifically designed to identify fake documents, protecting your business and the UK as a whole, mainly around digital Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money-Laundering (AML) checks. You can learn more about Anti Money-Laundering (AML) here and Know Your Customer (KYC) here.

Why is it Important to Check if a Passport is Fake?

If you wish to protect yourself or your business from being a victim of fraud, checking the authenticity of documents such as passports and driver's licenses is very important. With cases of fraud on the rise, criminals use forged documents with various identities to commit fraud, such as insurance scams and credit card fraud. This can cost you thousands, if not millions, of pounds; and if you're a law firm or regulated business that deals with international and commercial clients, this could cost you a significant chunk of your annual revenue.

The city of London Police reported a man jailed for attempting to defraud three insurance companies, using nine different identities from forged documents, a cost of £24,000. When looking at the fake documents used, they look legit to the human eye. This shows the necessity of implementing tech that can detect deeper fakes. You can read more about this here.

Types of Fake Documents

The UK Government guidelines are viewable here; they have categorised all fake documents into five types:

  •          A genuine document that another person is using
  •          A genuine document that has been changed
  •          A genuine document that has been obtained fraudulently
  •          A fake document, a copy of a genuine document
  •          A fake document that is a form of ID that does not exist

How to check if a passport is fake

A passport is one of the primary forms of identification when verifying an individual's identity whenever someone buys a house, applies for a mortgage or a loan, or even opens a bank account. This is because, as a business, you need to protect yourself by truly understanding who a client is, taking them through the full Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, and verifying they are who they say they are, and their documents are genuine. So how do you, as a regulated business, perform these checks?


The government changes all passport designs every five years to make the forging of genuine-looking passports more difficult. There are, however, a few things that do not change regardless of the document's design. Things you need to look for are; a genuine passport will feature a digital photo of the person printed with a holographic overlay. They should display a signature of the person, a passport number, and a serial number usually perforated throughout.

Often passports can be tampered with, and there are some changes to errors to look out for spot if a passport is fake:

  •          Check that the date is valid
  •          Check that the personal details have not been tampered with
  •          The number of page numbers should be correct for the date the passport was issued
  •          The photograph should be printed digitally
  •          There should be correct holograms and perforations
  •          There should be a passport chip
  •          Check that all words, signatures, and photos are in the correct places

These tell-tale signs can be difficult to miss if you don't know what you're looking for, and with fake passports becoming increasingly sophisticated, they may pass as genuine documents, which could cost you, a regulated business, thousands of pounds. Despite this, information on what to look out for is publicly available, making it easier for criminals to avoid simple mistakes. Therefore, to ensure maximum security around spotting a fake passport, a digital approach is recommended.


Fortunately, there is another way to spot a fake passport that doesn't require manual intervention or time spent picking out every possible flaw. And that is to digitally verify your clients' identities using automated software that will scan passports during the Know Your Customer (KYC) process and either approve or deny the individual. This software will also check other forms of identification, such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or any other official document that you require. Saving law firms and regulated businesses, not just time and money, but the headache of fake passports and identification documents slipping through the net and costing them in the long run. 

At Validient, we are committed to creating software that allows law firms and regulated businesses to work with clients with the confidence that they are who they say they are. By automating the AML and KYC process and digitally verifying the authenticity of their identification documentation. This process is cheaper and safer and is up to 80% quicker than manually onboarding clients. 

We have written an article in detail regarding identity verification here if you want to know more. 


There will always be fake identification documents and professional fraudsters. As these counterfeit documents are becoming increasingly sophisticated, it's difficult, if not impossible, to tell the real and fake ones apart. With the introduction of digital document verification software, there's never been a better time to switch from a manual process to an automated one. Start now to protect yourself and to check if a passport is fake.

Book a demo with us today to see how we can transform your processes, and protect you from fraudsters and money launderers! 

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