On 31/07/2018 President Donald Trump said that "You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID."

Is this true, do you need photo ID to buy groceries in the United States?

  • 3
    The rule that a celebrity said it, therefore it is notable, is a shortcut to address the question "Is this widely believed." However, that shortcut doesn't seem to work in this situation. This quote isn't sufficient to demonstrate a wide belief in this claim. [Do we need to thrash this out in meta?]
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 1, 2018 at 16:55
  • 3
    @Oddthinking here's evidence that others believe it "Massachusetts last year became one of the first states to require food stamp cards to include photos of recipients, but the new program has created such confusion that some low-income families are unable to buy groceries and the federal government is demanding that the state quickly fix the problem." bostonglobe.com/business/2014/12/08/…
    – DavePhD
    Aug 1, 2018 at 17:09
  • 7
    @DavePhD - "to use SNAP benefits" is quite different from the broader "buy groceries," though. I don't think that has any direct relevance to the quote OP is asking about. Aug 1, 2018 at 17:31
  • 12
    Closed? Seriously? This is a very notable claim. It has been debunked (if that's even needed) at CNN, Time, BBC, and many major (and minor) TV stations. Even Fox reported the quote, but with no comment on the validity. Almost anything any US President has said publicly since the 1940s is by definition "notable". Aug 1, 2018 at 17:50
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    @Oddthinking - The point is, quite seriously, that Trump's statements are "notable" for precisely the opposite reason that those of other major public figures are: Trump's statements are arguably more likely to be false and misleading than true and instructive. Aug 1, 2018 at 18:22

1 Answer 1


Many states allow grocery stores to sell tobacco, beer, and wine (and in some states, spirits). One needs to be of a certain age to buy such items. If you buy a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of wine, and some cheese at a grocery store and if you appear to be under 27, most states require that a clerk check that you are of age.

No ID check is needed for alcohol purchases (in Texas at least) for those who are obviously over 21. Other states have similar laws regarding the need to check ID for those purchasing products containing alcohol. The federal government requires an ID check for tobacco purchases by anyone who appears to be under 27.

Some establishments may ask to see an ID when a credit card is used, but that is store / credit card policy rather than law. (If the card is properly signed, Mastercard and Visa prohibit retailers from requiring an ID.) If the groceries or pair of pants costs over $10000 and you try to use cash, you will have to show ID so the vendor can report the purchase to the IRS.

You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID. You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture.

This is blatantly false. While an ID is needed for purchases of age-restricted items such as alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, or for cash purchases over $10000, it is not needed for buying ordinary foodstuffs or clothing. And certainly not for "anything".

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    I've never been carded in a grocery store. Was carded about 5 times total when I was in my early 20s and buying alcohol. Aug 1, 2018 at 16:49
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    @DanielRHicks - I was carded regularly until I was in my mid 30s, sporadically for a bit after that. I looked young. This was annoying when I was in my upper 20s. It was even more annoying when they completely stopped checking my ID when I hit the upper 30s. Aug 1, 2018 at 16:53
  • I would suggest putting the last paragraph first since that answers the question asked. The first three paragraphs are supplemental information that need not be there at all but certainly not above the proper answer.
    – CramerTV
    Aug 2, 2018 at 17:48
  • The stores Donald Trump shops at are so expensive that he has always had to show ID when buying his groceries. Aug 2, 2018 at 21:44
  • Interestingly, I was once carded while buying non-alcoholic chocolate in a liquor store, in Florida. The clerk said that as a liquor store, they had to card everyone even for non-alcoholic purchases. I don’t know if that was an actual legal requirement or just store policy.
    – Tom Zych
    Aug 5, 2018 at 10:52

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