Virginia ABC > Enforcement > Underage Buyer Program

Underage Buyer Program

The Underage Buyer (UB) program is an ongoing effort by Virginia ABC to visit alcohol and tobacco retailers throughout the Commonwealth to verify compliance with the state age requirements—21 for tobacco and alcohol sales.

Special agents, who are sworn officers from Virginia ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement, accompany underage operatives during attempts to purchase cigarettes or alcohol at grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses, including Virginia ABC stores.

The purpose of the UB program is not to trick businesses. In fact, it is the hope of Virginia ABC that 100 percent of the businesses comply with state law by not selling to the underage buyer.

  • Virginia ABC selects operatives who look their age, making it easier for clerks and servers to request ID and avoid the sale.
  • Operatives are instructed not to alter their appearance or mannerisms or mislead clerks in any way while attempting to make a purchase.
  • Operatives carry their own valid identification. If the store clerk asks for ID, the operative presents his or her own valid identification.

Virginia ABC special agents throughout the state complete nearly 400 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks every month. View inspection results

Underage Operatives Make a Difference

Virginia ABC continually recruits new underage buyers who:

  • Seek exciting work that makes a difference by keeping their peers safer.
  • Seek a part-time job that pays well with a flexible schedule.
  • Are thinking of pursuing a career in law enforcement.
  • Are looking for a unique experience for college applications and resumes.

All activities will be conducted in a safe manner, under the guidance and supervision of a Virginia ABC special agent. Regardless of whether a sale is made, the underage operative leaves the store immediately after the purchase attempt.



Candidates must be 16–19 years of age at the time of an operation to qualify for the alcohol and tobacco programs. Operatives must be willing to testify in court if necessary, and they are asked to refrain from discussing their ABC activities with others to protect the integrity of the program.  


To Apply

For more information or to apply, contact your Virginia ABC regional office.

Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement logo

Regional Offices

The Bureau of Law Enforcement has nine regional offices and one satellite office that serve as points of contact for citizens and licensees.

View inspection results for the Underage Buyer program.
Virginia ABC has a strict "zero tolerance" policy for underage consumption and looks to restaurants, groceries, and other licensed establishments to aggressively avoid these sales. Read more about avoiding underage sales.