Age Gate vs. Age Verification Explained

If you’ve ever purchased alcohol, tobacco, or other age-restricted products online, you’re probably familiar with the pop-up asking if you’re of legal age to enter a website.

This age gate has been an industry norm for age-restricted markets, including electronic cigarettes when they hit the U.S. market more than a decade ago. Minors could falsify information without repercussion and purchase products meant for adults. 

That all started to change when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noticed a surge in underage use of nicotine products over the last several years. The ecigarette industry caught nationwide attention as regulating bodies, cities, and states joined the movement to reverse what the FDA calls an epidemic of underage nicotine use.

The check box that sits at the beginning of a website is no longer enough, and vape businesses are facing legal penalties for selling to kids. Ecigs, and other industries such as alcohol, CBD, and adult-oriented products, are adopting new technology to prevent underage sales.

Businesses need a way to ensure that customers are the age they say they are when purchasing online. And it goes much further than trusting the customer to enter their age or check “yes” at the age gate.

How Advanced Age Verification Works

The vape industry’s future depends on participation from all of its members to combat underage vaping in the face of stricter enforcement efforts. Advanced age verification helps businesses achieve this online.

The FDA released a statement on March 13th that clarified their previous proposal that online vape shops should have “heightened practices for online age verification” by adding the example of using a third-party service that matches customer information against public records at checkout.

Age verification software, such as, uses customer information, including billing details, to cross-reference against extensive U.S. data networks when the customer is checking out.

Most of the time, this information (name, address, date of birth) is all that’s needed to verify a customer’s identity instantly and allow them to proceed with an order. About 10% of the time, the customer is asked to upload a photo ID for manual review. If the customer is underage or can’t provide a photo ID that matches their payment credentials, that customer is unable to check out.’s out-of-the-box solution is a plug-in that integrates with major ecommerce platforms. Complimentary installation is completed the same day a business owner creates an account. This is a popular option for businesses in need of a compliance tool immediately.

For developers who want to build out their own custom workflow using AgeChecker’s API, documentation and individual support are available as well.

Who Needs Online Age Verification?

The ecigarette industry has faced the most scrutiny lately, but other age-restricted markets, such as alcohol, CBD, and tobacco, also comprise’s portfolio of clientele. In addition, serves businesses that aren’t necessarily required to have age verification, but sell products meant for adults that they want to keep out of kids’ hands. As a best practices tool, can be customized depending on industry.

For example, localization tools allow business owners to set the minimum age for different states, and the software will automatically require that age, whether it’s 18, 19, or 21, depending on the customer’s shipping address. They can also block purchasing from certain IPs and regions, and apply to some products on their site while bypassing any non-restricted items.

As the FDA continues to follow up on their proposals for heightened online age verification, is ready to adapt to any specifications.

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