Joints have significant effects on the dynamic response of the assembled structures due to existence of two non-linear mechanisms in their interface, namely slipping and slapping. These mechanisms affect the structural response by adding considerable damping into the structure and lowering the natural frequencies due to the stiffness softening. Neglecting these effects in modelling of joints produces errors in predictions of the structure responses. In this paper, a non-linear generic element formulation is developed for modelling bolted lap joints. The generic element is formed by satisfying all conditions that are known for a joint interface and hence providing a non-linear parametric formulation for the families of allowable joint models. Dynamic response of the developed model for the assembled structure including the generic joint interface element is obtained using the incremental harmonic balance (IHB) method. The generic parameters of the joint are identified by minimising the difference between the model response obtained from IHB method and the observed behaviour of the structure. The procedure is demonstrated by modelling an actual structure containing a single lap bolted joint in the middle. The frequency responses of the structure around the first two resonance frequencies are measured by exciting the structure using a sinusoidal force at each individual frequency. The measured responses are compared with the predictions of the model containing a parametric generic joint element. The parameters of the joint interface model are successfully identified by minimising the difference between the measured responses and the model predictions.