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Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Illegal regardless of age
  Minimum age is 25
  Minimum age is 21
  Minimum age is 20
  Minimum age is 19
  Minimum age is 18
  Minimum age is 17
  Minimum age is 16
  Minimum age is 15
  No regulation/no age set

The legal drinking age is the age at which a person can legally consume alcoholic beverages. These laws cover a wide range of issues and behaviors, addressing when and where alcohol can be consumed. The minimum age alcohol can be legally consumed can be different from the age when it can be purchased in some countries. These laws vary between different countries and many laws have exemptions or special circumstances. Most laws apply only to drinking alcohol in public places, with alcohol consumption in the home being mostly unregulated (an exception being the UK, which has a minimum legal age of five for supervised consumption in private places). Some countries also have different age limits for different types of alcoholic drinks.[1]

Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, India (certain states), the United States (except U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), Yemen (Aden and Sana'a), Japan, Iceland, Canada (certain Provinces and Territories), and South Korea have the highest set drinking ages; however, some of these countries do not have off-premises drinking limits. Austria, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Ethiopia, Gibraltar, Luxembourg and Nicaragua have the lowest set drinking ages.

The most commonly known reason for the law behind the legal drinking age is the effect on the brain in adolescents. because the brain is still maturing, alcohol can have a negative effect on the memory and long-term thinking. Alongside that, it can cause liver failure, and create a hormone imbalance in teens due to the constant changes and maturing of hormones during puberty.[2]

Contents

AfricaEdit

 
Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Illegal
  Minimum purchase age of 21 years
  Minimum purchase age of 18 years
  Minimum purchase age of 17 years
  Minimum purchase age of 16 years
  Minimum purchase age of 15 years
  No minimum purchase age

The most common minimum age to purchase alcohol in Africa is 18. Although it varies from the lowest age limit in Ethiopia being only 15 years, Zimbabwe with a minimum purchase age of 16 years, Gambia with an age limit of 17 years and Uganda where the minimum legal purchase age is 18 but minors aged 16 or 17 may consume a glass of beer, wine or cider with a meal at a restaurant. Cameroon and Egypt are the only countries in Africa with a minimum purchase age of 21 years. However Algeria, Angola (except Luando Province), Central African Republic, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Tunisia and the Western Sahara have no laws on the book restricting the sale of alcohol to minors. In Libya, Somalia and Sudan the sale, production and consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited.

Country State/region/province De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
  Algeria None[3]
  Angola None[3] There is no national legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors.
Luanda Province 18[4] Legislation in Luanda Province:

It is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18. It is also illegal for minors to buy and consume alcohol.[4]

  Botswana None[5] 18[5] It is illegal for any person with a liquor license to sell or supply alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years. Because the law only applies to licensees it is not illegal for minors to buy, consume or possess alcoholic beverages.
  Burundi None[6] 18 (None if accompanied by parent or legal guardian)[6] It is illegal for any person with a liquor license to sell or supply alcoholic beverages to unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years.
  Cameroon 21/18 (if accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older)[7] It is illegal for any person with a liquor license, to sell or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under 18 years of age. The law permits adults from the ages 18 to 21 to consume, purchase and buy alcoholic beverages if accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older. Anyone over the age of 21 years may buy or consume alcohol unaccompanied.
  Cape Verde None[8] 18[8] It is illegal for any person to sell or supply alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.
  Central African Republic None[3]
  Comoros None[3]
  Egypt 21[3]
  Equatorial Guinea None[3]
  Eritrea None[9] 18[9] It is illegal for any person to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.
  Ethiopia None[10] 15[10] It is illegal for any person to sell, offer, serve or allow to serve alcoholic beverages "in substantial quantities" to any infant or young person. The criminal code defines a young person as any person under the age of 15 years. But the Criminal Code states: "Whoever endangers the health of another, intentionally and unscrupulously, by administering or serving, or by causing or permitting to be administered or served, to minors (defined as anyone under the age of 18 years) (...) alcoholic beverages or spirituous liquors of such kind or in such quantity as to make their injurious effect certain or probable, is punishable with simple imprisonment not exceeding one year, and fine."
  Gabon None[3]
  Gambia None[11][3] 17[11][3] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to child or young person. A "young person" is defined as anyone under the age of 17 by the Children and Young Persons Act, 1949 Section 2.
  Ghana 18[12]
  Guinea-Bissau None[3]
  Kenya None[13] 18[13] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.
  Lesotho 18[14] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic beverage to a minor under the age of 18 years. It is also illegal for minors to consume, buy or attempt to buy alcohol.
  Liberia None 18[3] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.
  Libya Illegal[15] Previously Article 498 of the Libyan Penal Code prohibted the sale of alcoholic beverages to juveniles under the age of 16 years.[3]
  Malawi None 18[16] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.
  Mauritius None 18[17] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.
  Morocco None[3]
  Mozambique 18[18]
  Namibia None 18[19] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.
  Niger 18[3]
  Nigeria 18[3]
  Republic of the Congo None 18[20]
  Rwanda 18[3]
  Senegal 18[21]
  Seychelles 18[3]
  Somalia Illegal[22]
  South Africa 18 The parent, adult guardian of a minor or a person responsible for administering a religious sacrament, may on occasion supply to that minor a moderate quantity of liquor to be consumed by the minor in the presence and under the supervision of that parent, guardian or other person.[23]
  South Sudan 18[3]
  Sudan Illegal[24]
  Swaziland 18[3]
  Tanzania None 18[25]
  Togo None[3]
  Tunisia None[3]
  Uganda None[26] 18
16 (wine, beer, porter, cider, perry or native liquor with meal)[26]
It is illegal for any licensee to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. The law provides an exception for anyone who is 16 or 17 years of age, and consumes a fermented alcoholic drink with a meal, in a part of a licensed premises that serves meals and is not a bar.
  Western Sahara None[3]
  Zambia 18[27] It is illegal for any person with a liquor license, to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under 18 years of age. Before the Liquor Licensing Act was enacted in 2011, the minimum age to sell, serve and supply alcoholic beverages was 14 years.[28]
  Zimbabwe None[29] 16 [29] It is illegal for any person to sell, lend, give, supply, deliver or offer alcoholic beverages to any child under the age of 16 years, except upon production of a written order signed by the parent or guardian of the child known to such person. The police has the duty to seize any alcoholice beverage in the possession of a child under the age of 16 years without a written consent of the parents or legal guardian.

AmericasEdit

 
Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Minimum purchase age of 21 years
  Minimum purchase age of 19 years
  Minimum purchase age of 18 years
 
Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Minimum purchase age of 18 years
  Minimum purchase age of 16 years
 
Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Minimum purchase age of 20 years
  Minimum purchase age of 18 years

The minimum age to purchase and consume varies, but the most common age is 18 years. However, in North America the age limits varies between 18 and 21 years of age. Throughout the United States the minimum legal age to purchase any alcoholic beverage from a shop, supermarket, liquor store, bar, club or any other licensed premises is 21 years of age. In Canada each province can decide which minimum age limit is to be set to buy or consume alcohol. Most provinces have a minimum age of 19 years, while Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec have set a minimum age of 18 years. In South America all countries have set a minimum purchase age of 18 years, except for Guyana where minors aged 16 or 17 may consume a glass of beer, wine or cider in a restaurant provided they buy a meal, and Paraguay the only country with a minimum legal purchase and drinking age of 20 years.

Country State/region/province De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
  Anguilla None[30] 18 [30] It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic drinks to anyone under the age of 18 years. Violating the regulation is punished with a $9.600 fine.
  Antigua and Barbuda None 16[31] The sale and distribution of alcohol to a person under 16 years of age is illegal.
  Argentina 18[32]
  Bahamas 18[33] It is illegal for any adult to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic beverage to a child (defined as anyone under the age of 18 years). The law provides an exception to treat an illness in urgent cases or upon order by a medical doctor.
  Barbados None 16[34] It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to anyone under the age of 16 years. The President of the Barbados Road Safety Association is trying to raise the drinking age to 18 years because the law is often violated.[34]
  Belize 18[35] Drinking age is rarely enforced. IDs are almost never requested.
  Bermuda 18[36] It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to a child under the age of 18 years.
  Bolivia None[30] 18 [30] It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years. Every sold alcoholic beverage has to have a warning message on the bottle or container reading: “VENTA PROHIBIDA A MENORES DE 18 AÑOS DE EDAD” (Sale prohibited to (anyone) under 18 years of age) and “EL CONSUMO EXCESIVO DE ALCOHOL ES DAÑINO PARA LA SALUD” (Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to (ones) health).
  Brazil None[37] 18 [37] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic beverage to a person under 18 years of age. The presidential law enacted on March 17, 2015 made any violation of the law a criminal offence. Any adult person selling, serving, giving or supplying alcoholic beverages to a minor is punished with imprisonment of 2 to 4 years, a fine of R$3.000 to R$10.000 and a ban to operate any business selling or serving alcohol.
  British Virgin Islands 16[35] It is illegal to sell or to supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 16.
  Canada   Alberta
  Manitoba
  Quebec
18[38][39][40] In Alberta no person may give or sell or permit any person to give or sell liquor to a minor in licensed premises.[38] In Manitoba a person must not give, sell or otherwise supply liquor to a minor. the law provides exceptions for a doctor, dentist, pharmacist or other health care professional for medical purposes; for sacramental purposes and by the parent, guardian, spouse or common-law partner, if it is given or supplied in a residence.[39] In Quebec the law probits the sale of alcoholic beverages to a minor under the age of 18 years.[40]
  Ontario
  Saskatchewan
  British Columbia
  Newfoundland and Labrador
  Nova Scotia
  New Brunswick
  Prince Edward Island
  Northwest Territories
  Yukon
  Nunavut
19
  Cayman Islands 18[41] It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. It is also illegal for any minor to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcoholic beverages. Violation of the lawis punished with a fine of five thousand dollars, and the court may, if the offence was committed by the licensee, order that the licensee shall forfeit his licence and that no licence may be issued to that person for a period not exceeding ten years from the date of his conviction.
  Chile 18[42] The minimum age is 18 to enter an enclosure that sells alcoholic beverages. Selling alcohol to a minor may incur a fine. One must provide identification upon request. Residents of Chile over the age of 18 must carry their Chilean identification card issued by the Civil Registry and Identification Service at all times.[43]
  Colombia None 18[44] The law prohibits the sale of alcohol to a minor (anyone under the age of 18 years). It is not illegal for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.[44]
  Costa Rica None 18[45] The law prohibits the sale of alcohol to a minor (anyone under the age of 18 years). Selling alcohol to a minor will be punished with a fine equivalent to ten basic salaries. Whoever permits minors to maintain in any establishment which main purpose is to sell alcoholic beverages, will be sanctioned with a fine equivalent to five salaries. It is not illegal for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.[45]
  Cuba None 16[46] The penal code prohibits any adult to induce any young person under the age of 16 years, to habitually consume alcoholic beverages. However this means that de facto anyone selling, serving or supplying alcohol should check if the buyer has attained the age of 16 years. In most cases this law is not strictly enforced.[46][47]
  Dominican Republic None 18[48]
  Ecuador None 18[49] It is illegal to sell alcohol beverages to a minor under the age of 18 years of age. The law obligates establishments to place a visible notice at the point of sale and to check identification to enforce the law. However it is not illegal for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.[49]
  El Salvador None 18[50] It is strictly prohibited to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to a minor under the age of 18 years. Violation of the law is punished with ¢ 25,000.00 and if convicted once more the license will be suspended for a period of six months. It is legal for minors to buy, attempt to buy and consume alcohol.[50]
  Falkland Islands 18[51] It is illegal for any adult to sell, give or provide alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 years in any public place or licensed premises. Parents may permit their children to consume alcohol on private premises. Minors consuming alcohol in public are committing a criminal offence. The law provides exceptions for the consumption of alcohol by minors for prescription of or at the direction of a government medical officer or in the course of the administration of Holy Communion according to the rites of any Christian denomination.[51]
  Grenada 18[52] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic drink to a minor under 18 years of age. Minors under 18 years are prohibited by law, to consume alcoholic beverages in public.[52]
  Guatemala 18[53] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic drink to a minor under 18 years of age. Minors under 18 years are prohibited by law, to consume alcoholic beverages in public.[53]
  Guyana 18/16 for beer, wine and cider with meal[54] It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to a person under 18 years of age. The law provides an exception for minors aged 16 and 17, if they consume a glass of beer, wine oder cider with a meal in a restaurant. Otherwise attempting to buy alcohol or buying alcohol as a minor is an offence.[54]
  Haiti None 18[55] It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to minors from May 17, 2017. Vendors are required to check identification.
  Honduras 18[42]
  Jamaica None 18[56] It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to a child (which is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years).[56]
  Mexico 18[42] The minimum age to buy and consume alcoholic beverages is regulated by each state of Mexico. But all states have set a minimum age of 18 years, and in no state it is illegal for minors to buy and consume alcohol.
  Nicaragua None 14 (restaurant)
18 (bars, clubs, markets, supermarkets, sports and recreation centers)[57]
The law from 1980 prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years. Every point of sale or establishment serving alcohol, is required to post a notice stating that the sale of alcohol to minors under 18 years of age is illegal. However the law permits children as young as 14 to purchase and consume alcohol in a restaurant without further restrictions.[57]
  Panama None 18[58]
  Paraguay 20[59] According to Art. 1° of the law to "ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors", it is illegal to serve or sell alcohol or to allow the consumption by minors under 20 years of age. Furthermore, under Art 2° all public establishments selling alcohol must display a clearly legible notice in the sales area with the following text: "ESTA PROHIBIDA LA VENTA DE BEBIDAS ALCOHÓLICAS A MENORES DE VEINTE AÑOS DE EDAD" (It is illegal (prohibited) to sell alcoholic beverages to minors under 20 years of age)
  Peru None 18[60]
  Puerto Rico 18
  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 16[61]
  Trinidad and Tobago None 18[62] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholiv beverages to child under the age of 18 years. It is also illegal for an adult to send a child to buy alcohol on behalf. It is not illegal for children to buy or consume alcohol.[62]
  Turks and Caicos Islands None 18[63] It is illegal to serve or sell liquor to a young person under the age of eighteen years. Minors under the age of sixteen years may not present in a licensed premises mainly serving and selling alcoholic beverages.[63]
  United States
(50 states and integral territories)
Varies by jurisdiction[42] 21[42] The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 withholds revenue from states that allow the purchase of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21. Prior to the effective date of that Act, the drinking age varied from state to state. Some states do not allow those under the legal drinking age to be present in liquor stores or in bars (usually, the difference between a bar and a restaurant is that food is served only in the latter). Contrary to popular belief, since the act went into law, only a few states prohibit minors and young adults from consuming alcohol in private settings. As of January 1, 2010, 15 states and the District of Columbia ban underage consumption outright, 17 states do not ban underage consumption, and the remaining 18 states have family member or location exceptions to their underage consumption laws.

Federal law explicitly provides for religious exceptions. As of 2005, 31 states have family member or location exceptions to their underage possession laws. However, non-alcoholic beer in many (but not all) states, such as Idaho, Texas, and Maryland, is considered legal for those under the age of 21.[64]

By a judge's ruling, South Carolina appears to allow the possession and consumption of alcohol by adults 18 to 20 years of age, but a circuit court judge has said otherwise.[65]

The states of Washington and Wisconsin allows the consumption of alcohol in the presence of parents.

Some U.S. states have legislation that make providing to and possession of alcohol by persons under twenty-one a gross misdemeanor with a potential penalty of a $5,000 fine or up to a year in jail.[66]

  United States Virgin Islands 18[67]
  Uruguay None 18[68] Only selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is prohibited, consumption and purchase by minors is not illegal.
  Venezuela None 18[69] Only selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is prohibited, consumption and purchase by minors is not illegal.[69]

AsiaEdit

Country State/region/province De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
  Afghanistan Illegal[70]
  Bangladesh (Illegal for Muslims.)[71] Alcohol will be sold to foreigners in certain locations, albeit clandestinely.[citation needed]
  Bhutan 18[72]
  Brunei 17 with restrictions, unless Muslim[42] Non-Muslims over 17 years of age are allowed to import alcohol not to exceed maximum total volume 2 liters of liquor and 12 cans of beer at 330 ml for personal use, once in 48 hours. This alcohol must be “stored and consumed at the place of residence of the importer” and is “not to be given, transferred or sold to another person.”.[42]
  Cambodia None[73]
  China Only selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is prohibited, consumption by minors is not illegal.[42] Introduced in January 2006.[74]
  Hong Kong 18[75] The regulation is only applicable to restaurants, bars and clubs, where a liquor license is required. Private drinking is also not regulated.[citation needed]
  India 18–25 (varies by jurisdiction)[42] Consumption of alcohol is illegal in the states of Bihar, Gujarat and Nagaland.[76]
  Indonesia 21[77]
  Iran Illegal [42] There is a ban on alcohol, but religious minorities may purchase small amounts from shops owned by the same religious minority.[78]
  Iraq Illegal[79]
  Israel None 18[42] Israel law prohibits selling or serving alcohol to minors, but it does not prohibit minors to drink, although the police may confiscate alcoholic drinks consumed by minors in public.[citation needed]
  Japan 20[42]
  Jordan 18[80]
  Kazakhstan 21[81]
  Kuwait Illegal[82]
  Kyrgyzstan 18[42]
  Lebanon 18[42] Often unenforced and according to a global school health study, 40% of minors over 13 drink alcohol and up to 25% buy it from stores.[83]
  Macau None[84]
  Malaysia 21 Increased from 18 to 21 in December 2017.[85]
  Maldives Illegal except for tourists, 18[citation needed] Sale of alcohol is limited to tourist resorts. It is illegal to sell alcohol to local Maldivians[86]
  Mongolia 18[87]
  Myanmar None 18[88]
    Nepal 18 The legal age for consumption of alcohol in Nepal is 18. However, there are exceptions to underage consumption for purposes of religious ceremonies.[citation needed]
  North Korea 18[89]
  Oman 21 Residents need personal liquor licenses to consume alcohol in their private residences.[90][91]
  Pakistan Illegal (18 for non-Muslims) [42] Non-Muslim citizens may possess alcohol to be used in accordance with religious ceremonies[42]
  Palestinian Authority 16[citation needed] Legal in most cities.[citation needed]
  Philippines 18[92]
  Qatar Illegal[citation needed] Muslims are allowed to purchase alcohol, but generally not allowed to consume. Non Muslims are allowed to purchase, and consume alcohol. The only legal distributor of alcohol in the country is the Qatar Distribution Company located in Doha.[citation needed]
  Saudi Arabia Illegal Drinking or possessing alcohol is illegal in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Persons who drink or possess alcohol are subject to arrest and trial. Punishments range from heavy fines, lengthy prison terms and whippings.[citation needed]
  Singapore None (private places, sometimes with permission from parents/guardian)
18 (public places e.g. bars and restaurants)
18[42] For convenience stores, those who pretend to be 18 years and above in a "Challenge 18" scheme will be downgraded to "Challenge 21" scheme, and after which the licences will be revoked once they pretend to be 18 years and above if it is on "Challenge 21".[citation needed]. It is illegal to purchase alcohol in Singapore or consume in a nightclub/allow entry to the nightclub under 18. Home and private drinking of alcohol is allowed, although the safest age could be 6. Parents can try a sip of alcohol at any age.[citation needed]
  South Korea None 19[93] The age limit for alcohol is after January 1 of the year one's age turns to 19.[93]
  Sri Lanka 21[42]
  Syria 18[citation needed]
  Taiwan 18[94]
  • It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to consume alcohol.[95]
  • Parents, guardians, and others taking care of people under 18 shall prohibit underage drinking,[96] or risk administrative fines of 10000 to 50000 new Taiwan dollars when the situations are serious.[97]
  • One shall not supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.[98] A violator shall be administratively fined 3000 to 15000 New Taiwan Dollars.[99]
  Tajikistan 18[42]
  Thailand 20[100] The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act of 2008 increased the drinking age in Thailand from 18 to 20, private drinking is not regulated in private locations.[100][101]
  Turkmenistan 18[42]
  United Arab Emirates 18–21 (varies by jurisdiction)[102] Expatriate non-Muslim residents may request a liquor permit to purchase alcoholic beverages, but it is illegal for such holders to provide drinks to others.[103]

The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi (although a Ministry of Tourism by-law allows hotels to serve alcohol only to those over 21), and 21 in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (except Sharjah, where drinking alcohol is illegal).[102]

It is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public.[102]

  Uzbekistan None 20[42]
  Vietnam 18[42]
  Yemen Illegal[citation needed] Exception is in Aden Region where it's legal for 21 and up[citation needed]

EuropeEdit

 
Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Minimum purchase age of 20 years
  Minimum purchase age of 18 years
  Minimum purchase age of 17 years
  Minimum purchase age of 16 years
 
Laws banning minors from consuming alcohol in public/private:
  Minimum age to consume alcohol in public and private
  Minimum age to consume alcohol in public
  No minimum age to consume alcohol in public or private

Most countries within Europe have set 18 as the minimum age to purchase alcohol. Although Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Serbia and Switzerland (except Ticino) maintain a minimum purchase age below 18 years permitting minors either full or limited access to alcohol. In 2005,[104] 2007[105] and recently in 2015[106] the European Union has failed to enact a law forcing member states to raise their purchase age to 18 years. But in the past years several European countries have raised their drinking/purchase age or enacted laws restricting the access to alcohol for minors:

  • In 2002 the autonomous communities Madrid,[107] Valencia[108] and Catalonia[109] raised their minimum purchase age to 18 years. Previous to 2002 Valencia and Madrid had a minimum purchase age of 16 years, and in Catalonia minors aged 16 or 17 could purchase alcohol up to 23% ABV on and off premises.
  • In 2004 Denmark[110] raised its off premises purchase age from 15 to 16 years.
  • In November 2005 Switzerland passed its "Food and Commodities Regulation"[111] (German: Lebensmittel- und Gebrauchsgegenständeverordnung), introducing a ban on alcohol sales to anyone under the age of 16, even though "Alcohol Law"[112] (German: Alkoholgesetz) passed in 1980 already required a minimum age of 18 years for the retail sale of distilled spirits. Therefore, it is illegal to sell fermented alcohol (e.g. beer, wine, sparkling wine or cider) to anyone under the age of 16, and any distilled alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. Further the canton of Ticino introduced a cantonal law in 1989 banning all alcohol sales to anyone under the age of 18 years.[113]
  • In 2006 the autonomous communitie Castile and León[114] raised its minimum purchase age from 16 to 18 years.
  • In late 2006, Gibraltar[115] lawmakers passed the "Children and Young Persons (Alcohol, Tobacco and Gaming) Act 2006", which raised the minimum purchase age from 16 to 18 years. But the new law made an exception: minors aged 16 or 17 can purchase and consume on premises beer, wine or cider under 15% ABV or pre-packed containers of an alcoholic strength not exceeding 5.5% ABV (e.g. alcopops).
  • In 2009 France[116] raised its minimum purchase age to 18 years, and fines were increased for selling or serving alcohol to a minor (up to 7,500 €). Previous to 2009 the minimum age to purchase any alcohol from off licensed premises was 16 years. In order to purchase alcohol on premises the minimum age was 16 years for low alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, cider, perry, mead, crème de cassis and juices from fermented fruits or vegetables that contain 1.2 to 3° alcohol, natural sweet wines from controlled cultivation – to purchase or be served stronger alcoholic drinks one had to be 18 years of age.
  • In October 2009, the government of Malta[117] passed a new law raising its drinking and purchase age from 16 to 17 years.
  • In 2010 the autonomous community of Galicia raised its minimum purchase age from 16 to 18 years.[118]
  • In 2011 Denmark[119] passed a new law, raising the minimum age for off-premises sale of alcohol >16.5% ABV to 18 years of age. The age to purchase alcohol <16.5% ABV remaines at 16.
  • Italy raised its minimum purchase age from 16 to 18 in 2012. Previously Italy did not have a purchase age for off-premises sales, and the minimum age of 16 years for on premises sales was barely enforced.[120]
  • In 2013 the government of Portugal restricted alcohol sales to young people: distilled spirits can not be sold to anyone under the age of 18, and other alcohol (e.g. beer, wine or cider) can't be sold to anyone under the age of 16. Previously the minimum age for all kinds of alcoholic beverages was 16 years.[121]
  • As of 1 January 2014, the minimum legal purchase and consumption age was raised from 16 to 18 in the Netherlands. Previously young people over the age of 16 could purchase and consume alcohol <15% ABV, and adults aged 18 and over could purchase alcohol over 15% ABV.[122]
  • As of March 2015, the autonomous community of Asturias raised its drinking age from 16 to 18 years. Asturias was Spain's last community with a drinking age of 16 years. The new law brings the drinking age into line with the rest of Spain.[123]
  • As of 1 January 2018, Lithuania raised its minimum drinking age from 18 to 20 years.[124]
Country State/region/province De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
  Albania 18[42]
  Andorra 18[91]
  Armenia None[125] 18[125] There are no laws mandating alcohol vendors to ID potential underage drinkers. ID checks are very rarely, if ever, carried out[125]
  Austria   Burgenland
  Lower Austria
  Vienna
16 [126]
  Carinthia
  Upper Austria
  Salzburg
  Styria
  Tyrol
  Vorarlberg
16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (distilled beverages)
Carinthia also requires adolescents to maintain a blood alcohol level below 0.05%.[126]
  Azerbaijan None[127] 18[127] It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to a minor under 18 years of age.[127]
  Belarus None[128] 18[128] The law prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years. However, the law is rarely enforced.[128]
  Belgium None[129] 16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (spirits)[129]
Since 10 January 2010, it is illegal to "sell, serve, or offer" any form of distilled alcohol to those under the age of 18 or any alcoholic drink to those under 16. So fermented drinks like beer or wine are permitted above 16.[129] Previously, it was illegal to sell alcoholic drinks to under-16s, but accompanying adults could buy drinks for them.
  Bosnia and Herzegovina None[130] 18[130] Selling alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 years is an offence. The law does not prohibit minors from buying, attempting to buy or consuming alcohol.[130]
  Bulgaria None[131] 18[131] By law, it is illegal to serve or sell alcohol to any child under the age of 18. There is no restrictions for minors consuming alcohol.[131]
  Croatia None[132] 18[132] It is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under 18 years of age. There is no minimum age to buy or consume alcohol by law.[132]
  Cyprus None[133] 17[133] It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 17 years. There is no minimum age to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol in public.[133]
  Czech Republic None 18[134] It is illegal to provide alcohol to minors[135] (punishable by fine or up to 1[136] or 2[137] year(s) imprisonment). Consumption itself is not prohibited by law.[138]
  Denmark None 16 (<16.5% ABV)
18 (≥16.5% ABV)
While there is no age requirement for drinking alcohol in Denmark, there are laws that prevent minors from buying alcohol:
  • In order to buy alcohol above 1.2% and below 16.5% ABV in stores, one must be 16 years of age.
  • In order to buy alcohol above 16.5% ABV in stores, one must be 18 years of age.[139]

By tradition, youths are privately allowed to drink alcohol after their confirmation.[140] If a shop or bar fails to ask for an ID card and is identified having sold alcohol to an underage, it is subject to fine. A national ID card, obtained in the local town hall, can serve as age verification.[141] This card is rarely used though since a passport or drivers license is more commonly used.[142]

Both the legal drinking and purchasing age in the Faroe Islands is 18.[citation needed]

  Estonia 18[143] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. Alcohol found in possession of any child can be confiscated by the police.
  Finland 18 (possession and purchase of 1.2–22% ABV)
20 (for possession and purchase of 23–80% ABV)
18 (for all in bars, clubs and restaurants)[144]
All major grocery chains have implemented a policy to ask for ID if the customer looks under 30.[145] Stores may refuse to sell alcohol if the customer is accompanied by a minor, or if proxy purchasing is suspected. Purchasing alcohol on behalf of a minor is a criminal offence.[144][146]

Police may search minors in public places and confiscate or destroy any alcoholic beverages in their possession. Incidents are reported to the legal guardian and social authorities, who may intervene with child welfare procedures. In addition, those aged 15 or above are subject to a fine.[147]

In private, offering alcohol to a minor is considered a criminal offence if it results in drunkenness and the act can be deemed reprehensible as a whole, considering the minor's age, degree of maturity and other circumstances.[144]

  France None 18 France has no explicitly stated consumption age,[148] but selling alcohol to a minor (under 18) is illegal[149] and can be fined 7500 euros.[148] This age was raised from 16 to 18 in 2009.[150][151]
  Georgia None[152] 18[152] By Georgian law, the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years is prohibited.[152]
  Germany 14(beer, wine and cider if accompanied)
16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (spirits and aliments containing spirits above negligible amounts)[153]
It is illegal to sell, serve or supply fermented alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, cider and sparkling wine) to anyone under 16 years of age. However this age limit drops down to 14 if a minor is accompanied by his parent or legal guardian. It is generally illegal to serve, sell or supply any beverage containing spirits and aliments containing spirits above negligible amounts, to anyone under the age of 18 years. Violation of the "Protection of Young Persons Act" can be fined up to €50.000.
  Gibraltar None[154] 18
16 (beer, wine and cider)[154]
It is illegal to sell alcoholic drinks to anyone under the age of 18, other than the following two exceptions. The minimum age to be served in licensed premises is 16 if:[154]
  • The alcoholic beverage is beer, wine or cider below 15% ABV, or
  • The alcoholic beverage is served in a bottle, or a pre-packaged container below 5.5% ABV.
  Greece None[155] 18[155] In 2008, the consumption of alcoholic beverages was prohibited for minors in public. However, the law does not apply to private events or private premises.[155]
  Hungary 18[42]
  Iceland None 20[156] Possession or consumption of alcohol by minors is not an offence, but supplying them with alcohol is.
  Ireland None (on private residence with permission from parents or guardians)[157] 18[157] It is illegal for minors to buy alcohol or for a third party to attempt to buy it for minors. It is illegal to purchase alcohol for anybody under the age of consent without permission from their guardians.[158]
  Italy None [159] 18[160][159] In 2012 the then Health Minister Renato Balduzzi proposed to raise the age to 18.[159] Selling alcohol to those under the age of 18 in shops carries a fine between €250 and €1000. Serving alcoholic beverages to those under the age of 16 is a criminal offense and is punished with prison up to one year, if the individual is 16 or 17 it will be treated as an offense that is fined between €250 and €1000 (Legge n. 189/2013).
  Kosovo None[citation needed]
  Latvia None[161] 18[161] It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to any minor under the age of 18 years. There is no minimum age to consume or possess alcohol.[161]
  Liechtenstein 16 beer, wine and cider
18 spirits and spirit-based beverages[162]
Wine, beer and ciders as well as some other party drinks sometimes without spirits may be purchased by the age of 16. Spirits as well as alcopops may be sold only to people at least 18.[162]
  Lithuania 20[124] It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 20 years. Persons under the age of 20 are prohibited from consuming alcoholic beverages or from possessing them. The minimum age was raised from 18 to 20 since 2018.[124]
  Luxembourg None [163] 16[163] It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages >1.2% ABV to any person under the age of 16 years. Violation is fined €251 to €1.000.[163]
  Macedonia 18[164] Must show an ID card upon request. In certain smaller places, such as family-owned convenience stores and street kiosks, there is little to no enforcement on how old or young somebody purchases alcohol. There is little to no enforcement for drinking privately, but drinking in bars may require an ID.
  Malta 17[165] Must provide identification upon request.
  Moldova None[166] 18[166] It is illegal to sell, or serve alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. It is not illegal for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol. The minimum purchase age was raised from 16 to 18 in 2012.[167][166]
  Montenegro 18[citation needed]
  Netherlands 18 The legal age for purchasing and consumption of alcoholic beverages was raised from 16 to 18 since 2014. Alcohol is commonly available upon parental permission. Selling alcoholic beverages to people under 18 is illegal, buying alcoholic beverages for someone else under the age of 18 is also illegal.[citation needed]
  Norway None[168] 18 (<22%)
20 (≥22% ABV)[42]
Selling alcohol to or buying alcohol for minors is illegal. Minors are defined as under 18 for beer and wine, under 20 for drinks that contain 22% ABV or more. Minors who buy alcohol are not held criminally responsible; instead, the crime lies with those who sold it or obtained it for them.

Alcohol with more than 60% ABV is generally not sold in Norway, although exceptions may be made by the government for specific products.[169]

Alcohol possessed by minors may be confiscated as evidence. Drinking in public is prohibited, though this is rarely enforced in recreational areas.[170]

  Poland None[171] 18[171] Article 15 of The Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism[172] clearly states that buyers or persons being served must be at least 18 and prove it with ID if they look like they may not be at least that age. There is no mention of consumption age in this or any other act in Poland. Drinking in public places, with the exception of designated drinking zones, is illegal regardless of age.
  Portugal None[173] 18[173]
  Romania None 18[174] According to law 61/1991 updated in 2008, paragraphs 21-25, it is illegal to serve or sell alcohol to minors.
  Russia None 18[175] There is no law or regulation in Russia that prohibits minors from consuming alcohol, but selling alcohol to minors is prohibited by federal and additional regional laws.
  San Marino 16[91]
  Serbia None 16[176]
  Slovakia 18[177]
  Slovenia None 18[178] There is no law regulating the possession and consumption, but it is illegal to sell or offer alcohol of any kind to minors.
  Spain 18 Asturias was the last autonomous community in Spain where the drinking age was increased to 18 (previously 16) on 1 May 2015.[179]
  Sweden

None

None (less than 2.25% ABV)
18 (bars and restaurants)
18 (2.25%–3.5% ABV in food shops)
20 (Systembolaget shops),[180]

It is legal for anyone at any age to drink, but it is illegal to supply anyone under the age of 20, any beverage containing more than 3.5%ABV, and supply anyone under the age of 18 beer containing more than 2.25%ABV, except in a venue licensed to sell alcohol, who are allowed to sell alcohol to anyone over 18. It is also legal to serve an underage person alcohol in a private place, provided it's a limited amount and done in moderation.[181] The reason for lower limit in bars than in Systembolaget shops is that bartenders have a legal responsibility for how drunk a guest gets.
   Switzerland    Switzerland (federal law) None
(See notes)
16 (fermented alcoholic drinks with less than 15% ABV and natural wines with less than 18% ABV)[182]
18 (spirits) [183]
Whoever offers or supplies alcoholic beverages to a child under the age of 16 years in an amount which is harmful to one's health is punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine.[184] Whoever sells or supplies spirits to a person under the age of 18 years is punished with a fine up to 10.000 CHF.[185]
  Ticino 18 The canton Ticino prohibits selling and consumption of any type of alcohol by minors under the age of 18. Some shops and supermarkets may not sell alcohol to minors under the age of 18.[186]
  Turkey 18[42]
  Ukraine 18[42]
  United Kingdom   England
  Wales
18[187]
16 (beer, wine or cider with meal)[187]
5 (private)[188]
None (under medical supervision, or in an emergency)[188]
Legislation in   England and   Wales:
  • It is illegal to sell, serve, offer or consume alcoholic beverages on licensed premises under the age of 18, other than the following two exceptions:[187]
    • Minors aged 16 or 17 may consume wine, beer or cider on licensed premises when ordered with a meal, and accompanied by an adult.[187]
    • It is legal to sell liqueur confectionery to someone of any age.
  • It is illegal to permit minors under the age of 5 to consume alcoholic beverages unless under medical supervision or in an emergency.[188]
  • Persons over 17 are entitled to their own duty free allowance, which includes alcohol.[189]
  Scotland 18 [190]
None (private)
Legislation in   Scotland:
  • It is illegal to sell, serve, offer or consume alcoholic beverages in public under the age of 18. [191] {{cite web| [192]
    • It is illegal to sell liqueur confectionery to anyone under 18, however, consumption is permitted.
  • Persons 18 and over are entitled to their own duty free allowance, which includes alcohol. [189]
  Northern Ireland 18 Legislation in Northern Ireland:

It is illegal to sell, serve, offer or consume alcoholic beverages in public under the age of 18.

  United Kingdom Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 (applies to all of the   United Kingdom) Under the BBPA's Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 schemes, customers attempting to buy alcoholic beverages are asked to prove their age if in the retailer's opinion they look under 21[193] (or optionally 25) even though the law states they must be a minimum of 18. Many supermarket and off-licence chains display Challenge 21 (or Challenge 25) notices stating that they will not serve persons who look under 21 (or 25) without ID.

OceaniaEdit

 
Minimum legal age to purchase alcohol by country:
  Minimum purchase age of 21 years
  Minimum purchase age of 18 years
  No minimum purchase age
Country State/region/province De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
  American Samoa 21[194]
  Australia 18[42][195] Varies by state. Some states restrict possession and consumption to over 18, all states restrict purchasing to over 18. In some states, minors may consume alcohol in a private residence with parental permission.[196]
  Fiji 18[197] The drinking age was 21 from 2006 to 2009 but was lowered to 18 in 2009.[197]
  Guam 21[198]
  Micronesia, Federated States of 18[199]
  New Zealand None 18[200] Minimum age applies for beverages with 1.15% ABV or over; no restrictions on beverages less than 1.15% ABV.[201]
Persons under 18 may drink outside private residences or private functions if accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. Alcohol may be supplied to minors only by, or with express consent from, their parent or legal guardian.[202]
  Northern Mariana Islands 21[203]
  Palau 21[204] It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age. Minors may access a bar or licensed premises only if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Minors buying, consuming or attempting to buy alcohol are committing an offence. The law provides an exception for the consumption of alcohol by minors as part of a religiously recognized ceremony.[204]
  Papua New Guinea 18[citation needed] It is illegal for a minor to purchase, consume or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages. Any licence holder has to ensure that the customer who he sells or serves alcohol to, is at least 18 years of age. Violation of this law is fined.[citation needed]
  Samoa 21[205] Selling or serving alcohol to a person under the age of twenty-one years is punished with three hundred dollars or imprisonment for nine months or both, a fine and imprisonment.[206]
  Solomon Islands None[206] 21[206] Selling or serving alcohol to a person under the age of twenty-one years old is punished with a three hundred dollar fine or imprisonment for nine months or both, a fine and imprisonment.[206]
  Tokelau 18[207]
  Tonga 18[208] Selling, serving or supplying alcohol to a minor is illegal. It is also illegal for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol in any public place and any violation of this law is fined up to $1,000.[208]
  Vanuatu 18[209] It is unlawful to sell, serve or supply alcohol to any person under the age of 18 years. Violation of the law is fined up to VT 25,000 or by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months, or by both, fine and imprisonment. Any minor under the age of 18 years, being found in possession or consumption of alcohol is fined up to VT 10,000.[209]

See alsoEdit

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