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Age Assessment Guidance and Information Sharing Guidance for UASC

Age assessment guidance published, October 2015

A consortium of partners co-ordinated by ADCS has produced good practice guidance to help frontline social workers conduct age assessments of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the UK. It contains practical advice on preparing for, and conducting, age assessments, as well as addressing related issues such as trafficking, trauma and memory, and legislation and case law. Young people with experience of age assessments were consulted and some of their reflections appear in the final document.

This document forms part of a suite of publications including the ADCS and Home Office Age Assessment Joint Working Guidance and the Information Sharing Proforma, see below.

Please note the ADCS central office nor the staff team has any involvement in the age assessment process nor the operation of the Government’s National Transfer Scheme. All queries should be directed to relevant Home Office Contacts or Regional Migration Partnerships, thank you.

Age Assessment – consolidating processes and practices in conducting lawful age assessments in England

The issue of age assessment is controversial, therefore, the ADCS Asylum Task Force has worked with the Home Office to provide two new jointly agreed documents, as detailed below.


In 2003 the High Court set out ‘the Merton Rules,’ this and subsequent judgements, including a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2009 which stated that the matter of age was a matter that must ultimately be decided by the court, have informed the conduct of the age assessments. In 2005 the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), as then was, and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (now the Home Office) agreed a joint protocol to assist those dealing with asylum cases featuring an age dispute. Practice has moved on significantly in recent years and the system has more evidence and experience to draw upon so it was decided to revisit these long standing good practice documents.


In 2015 the following were published to assist with local practice and partnership working - the joint working guidance has since been updated in March 2023 to reflect the launch of the National Age Assessment Board:

The ADCS Asylum Taskforce encourages all local authorities to follow the guidance and make use of the model proforma. In addition, the Home Office will also be publishing the Joint Working Guidance on the Home Office pages of the GOV.UK website.

Update: European Asylum Support Office publishes a practical guide on the best interests of children in asylum procedures, February 2019

The EASO has published a new resource to assist in the assessment of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, this includes links to further information and a ticklist.


Please note these documents are offered as practice guidance, by way of assistance to local authorities and their partners. The use of the proforma and consent form is voluntary. The content does not, nor does it seek to, be binding on local authorities. It is simply a recommended approach.

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