Proof of age required--estimating age in adults without birth records.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)


Many adults from refugee source countries do not have documents of birth, either because they have been lost in flight, or because the civil infrastructure is too fragile to support routine recording of birth. In Western countries, date of birth is used as a basic identifier, and access to services and support tends to be age regulated. Doctors are not infrequently asked to write formal reports estimating the true age of adult refugees; however, there are no existing guidelines to assist in this task.


To provide an overview of methods to estimate age in living adults, and outline recommendations for best practice.


Age should be estimated through physical examination; life history, matching local or national events with personal milestones; and existing nonformal documents. Accuracy of age estimation should be subject to three tests: biological plausibility, historical plausibility, and corroboration from reputable sources.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Phillips, C; Narayanasamy, S

Published Date

  • July 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 518 - 521

PubMed ID

  • 20628668

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0300-8495


  • eng