The legal drinking age is the minimum age at which a person can legally consume alcohol beverages. 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 alcohol drinks.
The most commonly known reason for the law behind the legal drinking age is the effect on the brain in adolescents. Since 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. Young people are also especially at increased risk of injury when drinking alcohol.
The most common minimum age to purchase alcohol in Africa is 18. However, Angola (except Luanda Province), Central African Republic, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Togo 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.[improper synthesis?]
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Algeria||None||18||Order No. 26-75 (1975), Article 14|
|Angola||None ||There is no national legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors.|
|Luanda Province||18||Legislation in Luanda Province:
It is prohibited to sell alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18. It is also prohibited for minors to buy and consume alcohol.
|Benin||None||20||Republic of Benin Report to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child CRC/C/BEN/2 (2005):
|Botswana||None(prohibited for any person to supply)||18||It is prohibited for any person with a liquor license to sell or supply alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 18 years. Because the law only applies to licensees, it is not prohibited for minors to buy, consume, or possess alcohol beverages. It is also prohibited for any person to expose or supply alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 years.|
|Burundi||None||18 (unless accompanied by parent or legal guardian)||It is prohibited for any person with a liquor license to sell or supply alcohol beverages to unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Cameroon||21 (18 if accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older)||It is prohibited for any person with a liquor license to sell or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under 18 years of age. The law permits adults from the ages 18 to 21 to consume, purchase and buy alcohol 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||18||It is prohibited for any person to sell or supply alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Central African Republic||15 (off-premises), or 21 (on-premises)||It is prohibited for any person to sell or supply alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 15 years when sold or supplied off-premises (e.g., liquor stores, wine stores, and supermarkets). It is prohibited for any person to sell or supply alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 21 years when sold or supplied on-premises (e.g., restaurants, bars, and cafes).|
|Chad||None||18||Law 2017-01 Penal Code Chapter 6 Articles 376-378 establish penalties for licensees who permit entry to youth below age 16 unaccompanied by a supervising adult, sell or offer alcohol beverages to youth below age 18 unaccompanied by a supervising adult, or serve a person below age 18 to intoxication.|
|Comoros||18||It is prohibited for any person to sell or supply alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Egypt||21||Law No. 371 of 1956 concerning public shops and the resolutions implementing it|
|Eritrea||None||18||It is prohibited for any person to sell or serve alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Eswatini||18||Liquor Licenses Act (1964) Section 27|
|Ethiopia||15||18||It is prohibited for any person to sell, offer, serve or allow to serve alcohol 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 Proclamation 414 (2004) 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) (...) alcohol 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.
The Revised Family Code Proclamation No. 213 (2000) Article 215 defines a minor as anyone who has not attained the full age of 18.
|Gabon||None||18||Penal Code (1963), Article 209bis-1|
|Gambia||None||16||Under the Liquor License Act (1957) it is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to "anyone under the apparent age of 16".
A "young person" is defined as anyone under the age of 17 by the Children and Young Persons Act, 1949 Section 2.
|Kenya||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Lesotho||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply any alcohol beverage to a minor under the age of 18 years. It is also prohibited for minors to consume, buy or attempt to buy alcohol.|
|Liberia||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years; "this section shall not apply to a parent or guardian who serves an alcoholic beverage to his child or ward" Penal Law of 1976 Sec 16.|
|Libya||Prohibited ||Previously Article 498 of the Libyan Penal Code prohibited the sale of alcohol beverages to juveniles under the age of 16 years.|
|Malawi||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Mauritius||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Morocco||None||Prohibited to sell to Muslims; 16 for others||Legislative Decision No. 3.177.66 of 1967 Art 28-29|
|Mozambique||18||Decree 54/2013 Regulations on the Control of the Production, Sale and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages (2013), Article 5 (Prohibitions)|
|Namibia||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Niger||18||Penal Code Article 302|
|Nigeria||None (at national level)||Purchase age of 18 in Abuja (Abuja Municipal Area Council Bye-Law 2001 Sec 15)
Prohibited in Borno state
|Republic of the Congo||None||18|
|Rwanda||18||Organic Law implementing the Penal Code N°01/2012/OL Articles 217 and 219|
Chapter 113 Licenses Act (2010)
|South Africa||None||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.|
|Sudan||Prohibited||Penal Code 1991, Art 78-79|
|Tunisia||None||Sale to Muslims is prohibited;
16/18 for others
|Law 59-147 Regulation of beverage outlets and similar establishments as modified by Law 74-23 Article 35 prohibits serving alcohol beverages to Muslims and entry to on-premise establishments to persons under 16 years of age unaccompanied by a parent or responsible adult;
Law 2004-75 Article 4 prohibits entry to night clubs to those under 18 with an exception for accompanied persons between 16 and 18 in certain venues, sale of alcohol beverages to whom is prohibited.
16 (wine, beer, porter, cider, perry or native liquor with meal)
|It is prohibited for any licensee to sell, serve or supply alcohol 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 alcohol drink with a meal, in a part of a licensed premises that serves meals and is not a bar.|
|Zambia||18||It is prohibited for any person with a liquor license, to sell, serve or supply alcohol 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 alcohol beverages was 14 years.|
|Zimbabwe||None||18 (except with parent/guardian consent)
||Liquor Act Article 116 Prohibited conduct by persons in general (1) No person shall-- ... (l) being a person to whom in terms of this Act the sale of liquor is prohibited, purchase or attempt to purchase liquor in contravention of such provision; .... (o) sell, lend, give, supply or deliver, or offer so to do, any liquor to any person under the age of eighteen years except with the consent of the parent or guardian of that person.
Children's Act Section 78 - It is prohibited for any person to sell, lend, give, supply, deliver or offer alcohol 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 alcohol beverage in the possession of a child under the age of 16 years without a written consent of the parents or legal guardian.
In Central America, the Caribbean, and South America the legal drinking age and legal purchase age varies from 0 to 20 years (see table below). In South America in particular, the legal purchase age is 18 years, with two exceptions:
In North America the legal drinking age and legal purchase age varies from 18 to 21 years:
In the late twentieth century, much of North America changed its minimum legal drinking ages (MLDAs) as follows:
In the 1970s, provincial and state policy makers in Canada and the United States moved to lower MLDAs (which were set at 21 years in most provinces/territories and states) to coincide with the jurisdictional age of majority -- typically 18 years of age.... As a result, MLDAs were reduced in all Canadian provinces [and] in more than half of US states. In Canada, however, two provinces, Ontario [in 1979] and Saskatchewan [in 1976], quickly raised their subsequent MLDAs from 18 to 19 years in response to a few studies demonstrating an association between the lowered drinking age and increases in alcohol-related harms to youth and young adults, including increases in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) and alcohol intoxication among high school students. Following MLDA reductions in the US, research in several states provided persuasive evidence of sharp increases in rates of fatal and nonfatal MVAs appearing immediately after the implementation of lower drinking ages. These scientific findings galvanized public pressure on lawmakers to raise MLDAs and, in response, the federal government introduced the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which imposed a reduction of highway funds for states if they did not increase their MLDA to 21 years. All states complied and implemented an MLDA of 21 years by 1988.
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Anguilla||None||18||It is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol drinks to anyone under the age of 18 years. Violating the regulation is punished with a $9.600 fine.|
|Antigua and Barbuda||None||16||The sale and distribution of alcohol to a person under 16 years of age, and purchase by persons under 16 years of age, for consumption in licensed premises are prohibited.|
|Bahamas||18||It is prohibited for any adult to sell, serve or supply any alcohol 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||It is prohibited to sell or serve any alcohol 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.|
|Belize||18||Drinking age is rarely enforced. IDs are almost never requested.|
|Bermuda||18||It is prohibited to sell or serve any alcohol beverage to a child under the age of 18 years.|
|Bolivia||None||18||It is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.
Law 259 Against the Sale and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages (2012) Article 20
|Brazil||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply any alcohol 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 alcohol 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||It is prohibited to sell or to supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 16.|
|18||In Alberta no person may give or sell or permit any person to give or sell liquor to a minor in licensed premises. 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. In Quebec the law prohibits the sale of alcohol beverages to a minor under the age of 18 years.|
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
|19||Ontario's Liquor Licence Act permits the supply and consumption of liquor to those under the age of 19. However, supplying a person under the age of 19 is restricted to the person's parent or legal guardian, and may only occur in a residence or in a private place of the parent or legal guardian. A person under the age of 19 who was supplied liquor in this manner is permitted to consume the liquor only in the place it was supplied.|
|Cayman Islands||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. It is also prohibited for any minor to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol beverages. Violation of the law is 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||The minimum age is 18 to enter an enclosure that sells alcohol 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.|
|Colombia||None||18||The law prohibits the sale of alcohol to a minor (anyone under the age of 18 years). It is not prohibited for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.|
|Costa Rica||None||18||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 alcohol beverages, will be sanctioned with a fine equivalent to five salaries. It is not prohibited for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.|
|Cuba||None||16||The penal code prohibits any adult to induce any young person under the age of 16 years, to habitually consume alcohol 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.|
|Dominica||None||16||Laws of Dominica Liquor Licences Act Chapter 70:03, Part IV, Sec 15(f)|
|Ecuador||None||18||It is prohibited 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 prohibited for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.|
|El Salvador||None||18||It is strictly prohibited to sell or serve alcohol 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.|
|Falkland Islands||18||It is prohibited 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.|
|Grenada||None||16 (None off-premise)||Chapter 174 Liquor Dealers' Licenses Act (1988), accessible through the Laws of Grenada Portal|
|Guatemala||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply any alcohol drink to a minor under 18 years of age. Minors under 18 years are prohibited by law, to consume alcohol beverages in public.|
(16 on-premise for wine or malt liquor with a meal)
|It is prohibited 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 or cider with a meal in a restaurant. Otherwise attempting to buy alcohol or buying alcohol as a minor is an offence.|
|Haiti||None||None (at national level)||In the capital Port-au-Prince, it is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol to minors under 18 years old from May 17, 2017. Vendors are required to check identification. The Senate voted on a proposed Law on the protection of minors from alcohol beverages, to establish a legal purchase age of 18 and related implementation measures, in December 2012. The law has not yet been approved and enacted.
Law prohibiting minors entry to entertainment venues Article 1 prohibits those under the age of 16 from entering cinemas and theaters (except during children's programming), clubs, cafes, or venues licensed to sell alcohol beverages.
|Honduras||None||18||Law for Police Enforcement and Social Coexistence Decree 226 (2001) Article 68 bans the sale of alcohol to minors; The definition of punishable gang activity for minors aged 12-18 includes drinking alcohol beverages in public places (Art 90-91).
Code of Children and Adolescents Decree 73 (1996)
|Jamaica||None||18||It is prohibited to sell or serve any alcohol beverage to a child (which is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years).|
|Mexico||18||The minimum age to buy and consume alcohol beverages is regulated by each state of Mexico. But all states have set a minimum age of 18 years, and in no state is it legal for minors to buy and consume alcohol.|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||None||18||Liquor Licences Act Sec 32(f)|
|Saint Lucia||None||16||Chapter 13.17 Liquor Licence Act Art 37|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||None||16||Chapter 342 Liquor License Act (1990), Sections 27 and 28|
|Trinidad and Tobago||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to child under the age of 18 years. It is also prohibited for an adult to send a child to buy alcohol on behalf. It is not prohibited for children to buy or consume alcohol.|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||None||18||It is prohibited 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 alcohol beverages.|
| United States
|Varies by state||21||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, only a few states prohibit minors and young adults from consuming alcohol in private settings.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism maintains a database that details state-level regulations on consumption and sale age limits.
|United States||Puerto Rico||18||Law 118 Penalties for Provision of Alcoholic Beverages to Minors under 18 years of age (1984)|
|United States||United States Virgin Islands||18|
|Uruguay||None||18||Only selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is prohibited, consumption and purchase by minors is not prohibited.|
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Bangladesh||Prohibited for Muslims|
|Brunei||17 for private residence consumption, but prohibited for Muslims||Prohibited||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.".|
|Cambodia||None||The Health Ministry drafted a law to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol in June 2015, with emphasis on establishing a minimum legal purchase age of 21 and preventing underage drinking.
The draft law has not yet been enacted. https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/groups-urge-passing-alcohol-law-be-sped
|China||None||18||Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors (2006 Revision) [Revised in 2012]|
Ministry of Commerce Decree No. 25 (2006)
|Hong Kong||None||18||IDs are rarely checked in bars and clubs, but are checked when purchasing alcohol at shops. Private drinking is also not regulated.|
|India||18-25 (varies by jurisdiction)||Purchase age:
18 in Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, and Puducherry
21 in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Orissa (Odisha), Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal
25 in Haryana, Meghalaya, Punjab, Delhi
|Indonesia||21||Sale is prohibited in Banda Aceh and Papua|
|Iran||Prohibited||There is a ban on alcohol, but religious minorities may purchase small amounts from shops owned by the same religious minority.|
|Israel||18||18||Israel law prohibits selling or serving alcohol to minors. Minors are prohibited to drink alcohol in public places and the police may confiscate alcohol drinks from them.|
|Jordan||18||Instructions issued by the Ministry of Interior Concerning Liquor Store Permits (2010), Article 6|
|Kazakhstan||None||21||Law 235 of 2014 Code of Administrative Offences Section 200|
|Kuwait||Prohibited||Law No. 46 (1964)|
|Kyrgyzstan||None||18||Law No.269 Government Regulation of the Production and Sale of Alcohol (2009), Article 13.2|
|Lebanon||None||18||Penal Code (1943), Articles 625-626 (promulgated by Legislative Decree No. 340 (2011)
According to a global school health study, 40% of minors over 13 drink alcohol and up to 25% buy it from stores.
|Malaysia||None||Sale to Muslims is prohibited;
21 for others 
|Food Act 1983 Food Regulations (1985) Regulation 361 (2014) and Food (Amendment) Regulations 2016
Increased from 18 to 21 in December 2017, effective October 16, 2018. There will be an 18-month grace period for sellers to comply. After the grace period, anyone caught selling to persons under 21 can be fined up to RM10,000 and jailed up to 2 years.
Malaysian identity cards include a designation of religion, which allows enforcement of the religion-based sales restriction.
|Maldives||Sale to citizens is prohibited;
18 for tourists 
|Sale of alcohol is limited to tourist resorts. It is prohibited to sell alcohol to local Maldivians|
|Mongolia||21 / 18 with parent consent ||21||Those under 21 are prohibited from drinking alcohol; parents and guardians are prohibited from supplying alcohol to those under 18.|
|Myanmar||None||18||Child Law (1993) Art 65
Excise Act (1958) Art 40(7)
|Nepal||None||18||A policy has reportedly been adopted that would make the legal purchase age 21. However, there are exceptions to underage consumption for purposes of religious ceremonies.|
|Oman||21 ||Residents need personal liquor licenses to consume alcohol in their private residences.|
|Pakistan||Prohibited||Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order of February 19, 1979
Non-Muslim citizens may possess alcohol to be used in accordance with religious ceremonies
|Palestinian Authority||16||Legal in most cities.|
|Philippines||None||18||Minors (defined as under 18 years old) are prohibited to purchase alcohol and adults are prohibited to purchase or provide alcohol to minors. Minors are not prohibited to consume alcohol. Act Regulating the Access of Minors to Alcohol Section 4|
|Qatar||Prohibited||The sale and consumption of alcohol beverages are not permitted in Qatar: Law No. 11 (2004), Article 272.
Foreigners holding valid residence permits can apply for licenses to purchase alcohol beverages from the Qatar Distribution Company.
|Saudi Arabia||Prohibited||Drinking or possessing alcohol is prohibited 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.|
(18 at licensed premises)
|18||It is prohibited to sell alcohol to minors. Anyone caught selling, furnishing or acquiring alcohol in any licensed premise to persons below 18 can be fined up to $10,000.
It is also prohibited for minors to purchase, or attempt to purchase alcohol from any licensed premises, in which the minors can also be fined up to $10,000. However, the authorities rarely enforced this on minors.
It is technically legal for minors to possess and consume alcohol at home and in public (not in any licensed premises) as there is no law prohibiting it. It is also technically legal for someone to purchase alcohol and pass it to minors outside the store or licensed premise.
|South Korea||None||19||The age limit for alcohol is after January 1 of the year one's age turns to 19.|
|Taiwan||18||18||Parents, guardians, and others taking care of people under 18 shall not supply alcohol to them or risk administrative fines of 10000 to 50000 new Taiwan dollars (Art 55).
No person shall supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 (Art 91).
|Tajikistan||None / 20||18||Sale to minors under 18 years old is prohibited by Article 12 of Law No. 451 on State Regulation of Production and Turnover of Ethyl Alcohol and Alcohol Products.|
Parents are required to forbid their children who have not reached age 20 to consume alcohol beverages.
|Thailand||None||20||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.|
|Turkmenistan||None||21||Law on Prevention of the Harmful Impact of Alcohol 2018 Art 22 prohibits sale to anyone below age 21.|
|United Arab Emirates||Varies by jurisdiction
Prohibited in Sharjah
Prohibited for Muslims
Prohibited in Sharjah
|Expatriate non-Muslim residents may request a liquor permit to purchase alcohol beverages, but it is prohibited for such holders to provide drinks to others.|
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 prohibited).
It is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public.
|Vietnam||None||18||Decree 94/2012/ND-CP on Liquor Production and Trading (2012), Article 19.7|
|Yemen||Prohibited||Exception is in Aden Region where it's legal for 21 and up|
Most countries in 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, 2007 and 2015 harmonization at the European Union level toward a minimum purchase age of 18 was discussed, but not agreed.
Timeline of changes to drinking/purchase age or laws restricting the access to alcohol for minors:
|Country||Administrative division||De jure||Notes|
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Albania||None||18||18||The sale of alcohol beverage in bars, restaurants or other licensed premises, as well as other points of sale, is prohibited to minors under the age of 18 years. Vendors and operators of licensed premises are required to post a clearly legible notice in A4 format stating "Ndalohet shitja e alkoolit personave nën 18 vjeç" (It is prohibited to sell alcohol beverages to people under 18 years). Consumption by those under age 18 in public places is prohibited.|
|Andorra||None||18||18||Selling, serving or supplying alcohol beverages is prohibited as well as public consumption of alcohol beverage by minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Armenia||None||18||There are no laws mandating alcohol vendors to ID potential underage drinkers. ID checks are very rarely, if ever, carried out Criminal Code the Republic of Armenia (2003), Article 166: "Involvement, by a person who reached 18 years, of a child into regular use of alcohol drinks... is punished with correctional labor for up to 1 year, or with arrest for the term of 1-2 months, or with imprisonment for the term of 5 years"|
|Austria||None||16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (distilled beverages)
|16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (distilled beverages)
|The age limits are set out by the legislation of each federal state but where harmonized in January 2019. Carinthia also requires16-18-year-olds to maintain a blood alcohol level below 0.05%.|
|Azerbaijan||None||18||Law No. 499-IG on Children's Rights (1998)|
|Belgium||None||18 for distilled beverages of higher than 1.2%ABV and fermented beverages of higher than 22%ABV
16 for other alcohol beverages
|Since 10 January 2010, it is prohibited to "sell, serve, or offer" any distilled alcohol beverages to those under the age of 18 or any alcohol beverage to those under 16. Previously, it was prohibited to sell alcohol drinks to under-16s, but accompanying adults could buy drinks for them.|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||None||18||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.|
|Bulgaria||None||18||It is prohibited to sell or offer alcohol beverages to any child under the age of 18.|
|Croatia||None||18||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.|
|Cyprus||17||17||It is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 17 years, and for those under 17 years old to consume alcohol beverages.|
|Czechia||None||18||It is prohibited to provide alcohol to minors but consumption itself is not prohibited by law.|
|Denmark||None||18||16 (beverages of <16.5% ABV)
18 (beverages of >=16.5% ABV)
|While there is no age requirement for drinking alcohol beverages in Denmark, there are laws that prohibit minors from buying alcohol from on-premise and off-premise outlets.
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. This card is rarely used though since a passport or driver's license is more commonly used.
|Estonia||18||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. Alcohol found in possession of any child can be confiscated by the police.|
|Finland||18 (1.2-22% ABV)
20 (>22% ABV)
|18 ||18 (1.2-22% ABV)
20 (>22% ABV)
|All major grocery chains have implemented a policy to ask for ID if the customer looks under 30. 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.|
Police may search minors in public places and confiscate or destroy any alcohol 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.
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.
|France||None||18||France has no explicitly stated consumption age, but selling alcohol beverages to a minor (under 18) is prohibited and can be fined 7500 euros.|
|Georgia||None||18||Under the Law on Protecting Minors from Harmful Influences 2001 the sale of alcohol beverages to minors is prohibited. Juvenile Justice Code (2015) Article 3 defines minors as those under 18.|
|Germany||None||14(beer, wine and cider if accompanied)
16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (spirits and foods containing spirits above negligible amounts)
|14(beer, wine and cider if accompanied)
16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (spirits and foods containing spirits above negligible amounts)
|It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply fermented alcohol 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 prohibited to serve, sell or supply any beverage containing spirits and foods 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 EUR50.000.|
|Gibraltar||None||16 (beer, wine and cider)
|18||It is prohibited to sell alcohol 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:|
|Greece||None||18||18||In 2008, the consumption of alcohol beverages was prohibited for minors in public. However, the law does not apply to private events or private premises.|
|Iceland||None||20||Possession or consumption of alcohol by people under the age of 20 is not an offence, but supplying them with alcohol is.|
|Ireland||None||18||18||It is prohibited for minors to buy alcohol or for a third party to attempt to buy it for minors. Minors are prohibited to drink in private residences unless it is with their parent or guardian's permission.|
|Italy||None||18||In 2012 the then Health Minister Renato Balduzzi proposed to raise the age to 18. Selling alcohol to those under the age of 18 in shops carries a fine between EUR250 and EUR1000. Serving alcohol 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 EUR250 and EUR1000 (Legge n. 189/2013).|
|Latvia||None||18||It is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol beverages to any minor under the age of 18 years. Persons between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to present an identity document to the retailer when purchasing alcohoc beverages, regardless of whether the retailer has requested it. There is no minimum age to consume or possess alcohol.|
|Liechtenstein||18 spirits and spirit-based beverages
16 other alcohol beverages
|Spirits and alcopops may be sold only to people at least 18, and other alcohol beverages to people at least 16. Consumption and possession is prohibited at the same ages.|
|Lithuania||20||It is prohibited to sell, serve or supply alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 20 years. People under the age of 20 are prohibited from consuming alcohol beverages or from possessing them. The minimum age was raised from 18 to 20 in 2018.|
|Luxembourg||None||16||It is prohibited to sell or serve alcohol beverages of >1.2% ABV to any person under the age of 16 years. Violation is fined EUR251 to EUR1.000.|
|Malta||None||17||17||Must provide identification upon request.|
|Moldova||None||18||It is prohibited to sell, or serve alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. It is not prohibited for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol.|
|Netherlands||None||18||18||The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages was raised from 16 to 18 in 2014. Selling alcohol beverages to people under 18 is prohibited, buying alcohol beverages for someone else under the age of 18 is also prohibited.|
|Norway||None||18 (<22% ABV)
20 (>=22% ABV)
|Alcohol possessed by minors may be confiscated as evidence. Drinking in public is prohibited, though this is rarely enforced in recreational areas.|
|Poland||None||Prohibited||18||Article 15 of The Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism prohibits sale or serving of alcohol beverages to anyone under 18 and that if doubt exists as to age, sellers/servers should require ID as proof of age.
Drinking in public places, with the exception of designated drinking zones, is prohibited regardless of age.
|Russia||None||16||18||Penalties apply to parents of those under 16 years of age who consume alcohol beverages in public places.|
The legal purchase age limits are 18.
|San Marino||None||16||Criminal Code Article 165|
|Spain||None||18||Autonomous region Islas Baleares does not have legislation on legal purchase age limits.|
|Sweden||None||18||20||It is legal for anyone at any age to drink, but off-premise sale or supply to anyone under the age of 20 is prohibited and on-premise establishments are prohibited from serving alcohol beverages to anyone under 18. It is legal to serve an underage person alcohol in a private place, provided it's a limited amount and done in moderation. The reason for the 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||16 (fermented beverages with up to 15% ABV and natural wines with up to 18% ABV)
|Whoever offers or supplies alcohol 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. Whoever sells or supplies spirits to a person under the age of 18 years is punished with a fine up to 10.000 CHF.|
|Ticino||18||Canton Ticino prohibits the selling of any type of alcohol beverage to minors under the age of 18.|
|Ukraine||None||18||Law No. 1824-VI on state regulation of production and turnover of ethyl, cognac and fruit, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products Article 15-3|
|United Kingdom|| England
|None / 5||18 16 (beer, wine or cider with meal and if accompanied by adult)||18 ||18||
|Scotland||None||18 16 (beer, wine or cider with meal f accompanied by adult))||18||18||
|Northern Ireland||None||18||18||It is prohibited to sell, serve, or offer alcohol beverages to anyone under the age of 18. Minors are prohibited to consume alcohol beverages in public.|
|United Kingdom||Under the BBPA's Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 schemes, customers attempting to buy alcohol beverages are asked to prove their age if in the retailer's opinion they look under 21 (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 people who look under 21 (or 25) without ID.|
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|United States||American Samoa||21|
|Australia||Varies by state.||18||All states restrict purchasing to over 18, but exceptions may apply if accompanied by a parent or guardian. The government-supported Youth Law Australia portal offers details on consumption and supply age limits by state.|
|Fiji||18||The drinking age was previously 21 but was lowered to 18 in 2009.|
|Micronesia, Federated States of|| Chuuk
|New Zealand||None||18||Minimum age applies for beverages with 1.15% ABV or over; no restrictions on beverages less than 1.15% ABV.|
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.
|United States||Northern Mariana Islands||21|
|Palau||21||It is prohibited to sell or serve any alcohol 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.|
|Papua New Guinea||18||It is prohibited for a minor to purchase, consume or attempt to purchase alcohol 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 punishable by a fine.Liquor Licensing Act (1963) Art 102-103|
|Samoa||21||Selling or serving alcohol to a person under the age of 21 years is punishable with a three hundred dollar fine, imprisonment for nine months, or both. "does not apply to a licensee of a food and beverage license provided that the person under the age of 21 years is under the supervision of an attending parent."|
|Solomon Islands||None||21||Selling or serving alcohol to a person under the age of 21 years is punishable with a three hundred dollar fine, imprisonment for nine months, or both.|
|Tonga||18||Selling, serving or supplying alcohol to anyone under 18 years is prohibited. It is also prohibited for minors to buy, attempt to buy or consume alcohol in any public place and any violation of this law is punishable by a $1,000 fine.|
|Vanuatu||18||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.|