Several international students at Boston University said they often acquire fake international ID cards in order to get around the U.S. drinking age of 21, which is higher than in most countries.
A student from Brazil, who requested anonymity to avoid disciplinary action, said they obtained their first fake ID at the age of 16.
They said they had been caught using a fake Brazilian ID before but never had it confiscated.
“I had to have a passport, they say, but they never took [the fake ID] from me,” the student said.
They said they still would not be allowed to purchase alcohol even if they were 21 years old with a valid Brazilian ID and they find this practice unfair.
“The only thing I have is my Brazilian [ID],” the student said. “I don’t know if [bouncers are] trained to accept IDs from other countries.”
The student said passport photocopies have also been turned away in their experience.
“No one carries their passport,” they said. “It’s dangerous.”
The student said they do not believe Boston University’s Police Department makes enough of an effort to catch students using fake IDs.
“Out of 10 people I know, five have fake IDs,” they said.
The student noted if BUPD monitored areas known for accepting fake IDs, perhaps more students would be apprehended.
BUPD could not be reached for comment.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that possessing a fake ID violates the University’s Code of Student Responsibilities.
“Making, buying and using fake personal identifications (often state licenses) for the purpose of skirting the legal age limit to buy or consume alcohol is illegal in Massachusetts,” he wrote.
A student, who elected to remain anonymous for fear of legal repercussions, said they used to use their sister’s former Florida license ID since moving to Florida from their home country of Venezuela at age 14.
They said many international students choose to use fake IDs because they are not used to the drinking age in the U.S.
“We’re used to … drinking and going out younger than what they’re used to here,” they said. “I feel like that’s not normal in U.S. culture.”
The student said since her sister’s ID was from the United States, it was easier to get into clubs.
“It was easy,” the student said. “We don’t look alike at all, but with makeup I can squeeze in [the club].”
If questioned about the ID photo, the student said they would joke about having gained weight since the photo was taken and eventually get let in.
A student from Panama, who also requested anonymity to avoid disciplinary action, said they have had a fake ID since they were 16 years old.
The student said they received a Colombian ID despite being from Panama and attending school in the U.S.
They said they chose a foreign fake ID partly because getting caught with a fake U.S. ID while in the U.S. could lead to more severe consequences.
“If I had an ID from the U.S. … and for some reason it gets into a cop’s hand, it’s a federal crime,” they said.
They said they fear that if caught with a fake U.S. ID, their visa could be revoked, a potential consequence they find “not worth the risk.”
A student from the Philippines, who requested anonymity because they did not want to attract unwanted attention to their supplier, said there are two different ways of obtaining a fake ID on campus.
“There’s a big organization that takes all the orders online,” they said. “The other way is actually through my friend. He’s like a middleman.”
The student said the “middleman” receives personal information from 10 to 20 clients before distributing fake U.S. IDs for approximately $70.
The student noted the “middleman,” an upperclassman, has been successfully shipping fake IDs to BU from China for a few years.
“Some of my friends are going to clubs and I think it’s pretty strict from what I’m hearing, but they didn’t get caught,” they said.
The student said peer pressure is one of the main reasons why students obtain fake IDs.
“They want to hang out with their friends,” they said. “Without IDs, you can’t really get into clubs or bars.”
Local liquor stores frequented by BU students, Shippy’s Warehouse and Marlboro Market, and restaurant and bar Sunset Cantina, declined to comment.