What is Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT)?

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A core requirement of the employee onboarding process is ensuring they have the right documentation to legally work in the UK. It doesn’t matter the size of your organisation, all businesses need to verify new employees have the right to work in the country before they officially start their employment.

This year, however, there are important changes to right to work checks that employers need to be aware of. Not only has the government introduced a way to digitally verify an employee’s right to work through Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT), but it’s also eliminating video calls as a way to check this.

Failure to comply with this could mean your business faces a fine of up to £20,000 per employee.

Why are the rules changing?

In 2018, the government introduced its online Right to Work Checking Service. It allowed organisations to conduct an online right to work check on employees who were from the EU, EEA, or had Swiss immigration status.

However, for individuals from the UK or Ireland, who represent most of the people looking to work in the UK, the checks needed to be carried out face-to-face.

As you might have guessed, the pandemic ground this process to a halt, as employers were unable to see employees in person and carry out these checks. This led to the Home Office relaxing these rules and allowing employers to verify an employee’s right to work through a video call, also known as adjusted checks.

Although this was successful, there were concerns that given the greater number of checks being handled online, fraudulent applications could more easily slip through the net. Because of this, the government has decided that employers will now need to conduct checks in one of the following three ways:

  • a manual, in person, right to work check - as it has been done in the past
  • a right to work check using Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) via the services of a third-party provider
  • a Home Office online right to work check

The government is set to introduce these changes on 30 September 2022, at which point it will no longer be valid to conduct checks using video calls.

The changes were originally deferred from 17 May 2021, in order to give employers sufficient time to develop commercial relationships with identity service providers, as well as make the necessary changes to their pre-employment checking processes, and carry out responsible on-boarding of their chosen provider.

The government also wanted to give employers time to put measures in place to enable face-to-face document checks if they decided not to adopt digital checks for British and Irish citizens.

How to use Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT)

From 6 April 2022, employers are able to use Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) through a digital identity service provider (IDSP) to complete the digital identity verification element of right to work checks. The IDVT process is applicable to any British and Irish citizen who hold a valid passport (including Irish passport cards).

Digital identity verification is the process of obtaining evidence of the prospective employee’s identity, checking that it is valid, and belongs to the person who is claiming it. Employers are able to use the services of an IDSP to ensure holders of valid British or Irish passports, or Irish passport cards, can demonstrate their right to work.

However, keep in mind that employers aren’t allowed to treat less favourably those who do not hold a valid passport, or those who do not wish to prove their identity using an IDSP. Employers must provide individuals with other ways to prove their right to work and should carry out a manual document-based right to work check in these circumstances.

The government is hoping that using IDVT will help to support long-term post pandemic working practices, accelerate the recruitment and onboarding process, improve employee mobility, and enhance the security and integrity of the checks.

How to conduct a right to work check using an IDSP

The Home Office recommends that employers only accept digital identity verification using a recognised IDSP. The government department has produced a list of certified providers that employers can pick from.


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However, employers do not have to use this list of providers, and can opt to work with any third-party capable of performing the checks - although it's advised employers only work with partners they trust.

Once the third-party provider has performed the checks, employers are required to double check that the employee’s photograph and personal details are correct on the IDVT output, and consistent with the individual presenting themselves for work. Essentially, an employer needs to check that the individual is not an imposter.

Employers must then retain a clear copy of the IDVT check output for the duration of employment and for two years after the employment has come to an end.

What are the penalties for insufficient employment checks?

If you are found to have employed someone without their identity or eligibility being verified correctly in the prescribed manner, then you will be eligible for a fine. This includes both failing to carry out checks entirely, or failing to perform them correctly.

The law sets this penalty at a maximum of £20,000 per illegal worker, although the exact fine will vary on a case by case basis.

Any employer that is found to have knowingly employed someone who they knew had no right to work in the UK, or had reasonable cause to believe this, may face up to five years in jail and an unlimited fine. This includes the hiring of someone who did not have permission to enter the UK, who was restricted from certain types of work, or who had incorrect of false documentation.

How to prepare for Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT)

Employers who are aiming to carry out a right to work check through an IDSP need to find one before the change in legislation becomes law.

They will also need to implement any internal processes involved in carrying out these checks before the law comes into effect in October 2022.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.