Can You Use a Temporary License To Buy Alcohol? | It Depends


It is a requirement for every liquor store and bar to request a valid ID before selling liquor. It is the types of ID accepted that are in question.

When it comes to validating your identity and age with a temporary license, it is often at the discretion of bars, stores, and liquor stores whether they will accept it or not. While some may very well allow you to use a temporary ID for purchases, this will vary from store to store and by jurisdiction.

Whenever you are denied service because you don’t have a valid ID, remember that it’s not personal and it’s just a legal requirement the establishment must comply with. In this article, you will find some information about using a temporary license to purchase liquor.

What ID is Acceptable for Purchasing Alcohol?

When purchasing alcohol, the following forms of photo ID are usually acceptable:

  • Unexpired driver’s license from any state.
  • Unexpired passport.
  • Unexpired military ID card.
  • Student identification card with your photo, full name, date of birth, and physical description.

What Are Forms Of ID Acceptable At A Bar?

It’s the weekend, and you and your friends are planning to go to a bar, but you completely forgot some of your documents at home or maybe your friend did. To avoid being denied service and a stormy night, it is suggested for you to carry at least two different types of ID. Please see below acceptable IDs:

  • Valid Driver’s License from any state.
  • Military identification card
  • A Passport.

Secondary identifications that can also be used as a backup are the following:

  • Social Security Card
  • Student ID with photo
  • Resident Alien Card

These are often helpful ways to be granted access. Just keep in mind that some bars or servers will accept temporary licenses to let you in, but this is not guaranteed. In addition, because a provisional license is just a paper that shows you’ll be issued your primary license, an establishment might not accept it as valid to ensure compliance with regulations due to the ease of falsifying such documents.

Can You Use A Temporary ID At A Liquor Store?

Temporary identifications for most liquor stores have become a hurdle. This type of document, because it is just paper, can be easily forged.

Most liquor stores will almost always deny purchasing any form of alcohol if you only have a temporary license and no other backup form of identification. You can use a valid driver’s license, military ID card, a passport, or a student ID to prove you are of legal drinking age.

This is nothing personal; liquor store owners and employees are required to check a valid ID before selling alcohol. Some stores can also scan your driver’s license code to keep a record and validate a purchase.

It may seem odd for older people with gray hair and wrinkles to show an ID, but remember, it is the law, and stores and bars want to protect themselves.

What is Required for an ID to be Legally Acceptable

After explaining the importance of using a valid ID, you should know the key concepts that make an ID lawfully acceptable. Your ID must meet the following criteria:

  • Issued by a U.S. government agency (federal, state, county, or city)
  • Contains the full legal name of the person
  • Date of birth
  • Photograph
  • Physical description (height, weight, hair, and eye color)
  • Currently valid (not expired)

Of course, depending on the state you live in or that you are visiting, each has its regulations and acceptable ID when entering a bar or buying alcohol. Below you’ll find acceptable IDs for some of the states.

Acceptable IDs To Buy Alcohol In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has the following documents that can be used as age evidence to purchase alcohol:

  • A valid driver’s license issued by any state or territory of the United States and Canada.
  • A valid identification card issued by any state or territory of the United States and Canada with your photo.
  • A valid military ID from the United States with your photo.
  • A valid passport or travel visa containing your image.

Remember, it needs to be official, and the document has to be up to date. Permits are not allowed.

Acceptable IDs To Buy Alcohol In California

Here are the acceptable IDs to present when purchasing liquor in California:

  • Actual ID/driver’s license/identification card from the state of California.
  • Driver license/identification card from any state.
  • U.S. Military identification card.
  • Foreign and U.S passports with your photo and description.

The forms of ID below can’t be used to buy alcohol:

  • An immigrant identification card or permit.
  • Temporary driver’s license or receipt for a license.
  • College or Work ID.
  • Identification issued by a non-government agency.
  • Social Security card
  • Foreign driver’s license or identification card.

An expired, forged, borrowed, or stolen document is not considered valid and can be reported.

Acceptable IDs To Buy Alcohol In Oregon

Acceptable IDs:

  • Unexpired and valid driver’s license from any state, District of Columbia, or Canadian territory.
  • Unexpired identification card with your photo, full name, date of birth, and physical description from the territory, state, or province issued.
  • Unexpired and valid ID card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe with your photo, full name, physical description, and date of birth.
  • Unexpired passport or passport card.
  • Unexpired military ID card (U.S.)
  • Unexpired SENTRI or NEXUS card.

Oregon also has a list of documents that are not accepted alone as proof of age; such is the case for the following:

  • Green cards
  • FAST cards
  • Firearms or weapon permits
  • IDNYC cards
  • Social Security cards
  • Pilot’s license
  • Veteran Health ID cards
  • Student ID cards

States Where You Can’t Use a Temporary ID

Temporary documents shouldn’t be used for identification purposes; even so, bar and liquor stores may accept your temporary ID and let you buy alcohol in some states.

A temporary ID is explicitly not considered a valid form of ID in the following states:

  • Las Vegas
  • Massachusetts
  • Tennessee
  • Pennsylvania
  • California
  • Washington.

These states will require a valid driver’s license from your state, an ID card with your personal information, a passport, or a military identification card to enter a bar or buy alcohol.

Why You Can (or Can’t) Use a Temporary License

Sillouette Person in Liquor Store

Since your temporary license is just paper, there have been cases where these get forged. Therefore, to avoid any possible conflicts, some bars and liquor stores are more strict than others and decide not to allow temporary licenses as a form of age verification. Their liquor license is at stake, and most won’t take a chance on that.

By most laws, a temporary ID is only valid as a legal ID in the state it was given; everywhere else, it is only suitable for driving. They are usually only accepted if the state you are in considers a temporary license a legal ID.

Since all verification is completed beforehand by the DMV, businesses should recognize the temporary license as official. However, some states mark their temporary IDs as “Not Valid for ID Purposes.” It is, however, at the discretion of the business if they require a secondary form of identification.

A temporary license is just a piece of evidence to show you’ll be receiving your valid driver’s license shortly. Therefore, you should probably only be using your temporary license for driving purposes.

Defining a Temporary License

When you apply for a driver’s license or non-driver ID card, a temporary license is issued to you for use until you receive your actual license via mail to your current mailing address. The validity of this temporary license varies from state to state, but typically it is valid for 30-45 days. You should receive your license within 7-10 business days. If you do not receive it after 20 days, contact your local DMV. If you get a temporary license or non-driver ID card, remember that they will only be fully Real ID or EDL compliant when you receive your permanent license or card via mail.

What Info Is Usually Found Found on a Temporary License?

You receive a paper document as a confirmation that your permanent card will be issued shortly. This paper contains a black and white photograph of you, your demographic information such as your full name, address, height, etc.; also, credential information such as endorsements, restrictions, and others. In addition, it contains its expiration date and a link that allows the holder to track their license status.

Bottom Line

It is a good idea to try to have all your documents up to date and valid. However, bar and liquor store owners are allowed to be strict on their policies to protect themselves. Therefore, some will accept a temporary license as acceptable identification to let you buy alcohol, but some will not, and it is at their discretion.

As a precaution, you should carry two different types of valid photo IDs when going out just in case the place you are going to doesn’t accept one of them or asks for a secondary ID.

Beyond that, not every state is the same. In most cases, unless you are well-known in the community, it is probably not even worth attempting to use a temporary ID. But, of course, you can always ask, and the worst that can happen is that they say no.

For more, check out Can You Use a PO Box as a Physical Address?

Jim James

Hey, I'm Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!

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