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Alcohol psychology
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Alcohol use
Alcohol abuse
Alcohol consumption and health
Treatment of alcohol problems

Legal drinking age is the age at which a person is permitted by law to consume alcoholic beverages. The legal drinking age and the statutes which regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks vary significantly from one country to another. The drinking age and the age at which a person is permitted to buy alcohol, or to drink alcohol in a public place, such as a bar or pub, or to drink in private such as the home can vary. The objective in restricting the age at which a person can consume alcohol is to protect young persons.

The legal drinking age can also differ depending on the type of alcoholic beverage.

In Europe, people in all countries are allowed to drink alcohol from childhood within their home. For example, in Albania there is no age limit for home consumption, while it is 5 years in the United Kingdom. In India, the legal age may be as high as 25 years depending on the area.[1] Some Islamic nations prohibit Muslims, or both Muslims and non-Muslims, from drinking alcohol at any age.

In some countries, it is not illegal for minors to drink alcohol but the alcohol can be seized without compensation. In some cases, it is illegal to sell or give alcohol to minors. Despite this article's title, the following list indicates the age of the person to whom it is legal to sell alcohol.


Country/region De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
Template:Country data Algeria 18[1]
Template:Country data Angola None
Template:Country data Botswana 18[1]
Template:Country data Burundi 18[1] No limit if accompanied by parents.
Template:Country data Cameroon 18[1] 21[1] 18 on the premises, 21 off the premises
Template:Country data Cape Verde 18[1]
Template:Country data Central African Republic 18[1]
Template:Country data Comoros None[1]
Template:Country data Egypt 18 (beer), 21 (wine/spirits)[1][2]
Template:Country data Equatorial Guinea None[1]
Template:Country data Eritrea 18[1]
Template:Country data Ethiopia 18[1]
Template:Country data Gabon 18[1] Illegal for Muslims
Template:Country data Gambia 18[1] Illegal for Muslims
Template:Country data Ghana 18[3]
Template:Country data Guinea-Bissau None[1]
Template:Country data Kenya 18[1]
Template:Country data Lesotho 18[1]
Template:Country data Libya Illegal[1]
Template:Country data Malawi 18[3]
Template:Country data Mauritius 18[1]
Template:Country data Morocco None[4] 16[4]
Template:Country data Mozambique 18[1]
Template:Country data Namibia 18[1]
Template:Country data Niger 18[1]
Template:Country data Nigeria 18[1]
Template:Country data Republic of the Congo 18[1]
Template:Country data Rwanda 18[1]
Template:Country data Seychelles 18[1]
Template:Country data South Africa 18[1]
Template:Country data Swaziland None[1] 18[1]
Template:Country data Sudan 16[1] Illegal for Muslims
Template:Country data Togo None[1]
Template:Country data Uganda 18[1]
Template:Country data Tunisia 18[1]
Template:Country data Zambia 18[1]
Template:Country data Zimbabwe 18[1]


Country / region De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
Template:Country data Argentina None 18[1][5]
Template:Country data Bahamas 18[1]
Template:Country data Belize 18[1]
Template:Country data Bermuda 18[1]
Template:Country data Bolivia 18[1]
Template:Country data Brazil 18[1]
Template:Country data Canada 18[6] Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, but underage drinking by 16-17 year olds under parental supervision is permitted in Manitoba [7]and under parental supervision in a residence or a temporary residence in Alberta[8] section 87.3.
19[9] In Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut, the legal drinking age is 19. Underage drinking under parental supervision is permitted, with some restrictions, on one's own property in the provinces of New Brunswick[10] and Ontario[11] and at home in the provinces of Prince Edward Island, British Columbia[12] and Saskatchewan.[13] In British Columbia, only children of the supervising parents, not any other minors such as guests, are allowed underage drinking. Consumption of alcohol in another person's home is subject to other laws [14].
Template:Country data Chile 18[1] The minimum age is 18 for buying and consuming alcohol. Selling alcohol to a minor may attract a fine. One must provide identification upon request. Residents of Chile over the age of 18 must carry their Cédula de Identidad (Chilean ID card) issued by the Civil Registry and Identification Service at all times.
Template:Country data Colombia 18[1]
Template:Country data Costa Rica 18[1]
Template:Country data Cuba None[1] 18[1]
Template:Country data Dominican Republic 18[1]
Template:Country data Ecuador 18[1]
Template:Country data El Salvador 18[1]
Template:Country data Guatemala 18[1]
Template:Country data Guyana 18[1]
Template:Country data Haiti 16[1]
Template:Country data Honduras 18[15]
Template:Country data Jamaica None 16[1]
Template:Country data Mexico 18[16]
Template:Country data Nicaragua 19[1]
Template:Country data Panama 18[1]
Template:Country data Paraguay 20[1]
Template:Country data Peru 18[1]
Template:Country data Puerto Rico 18[17]
Template:Country data Trinidad and Tobago 18[1]
Template:Country data United States

(50 states and integral territories)

None-21[1] 21[1]

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 states that revenue will be withheld 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, 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 specifically ban underage consumption, and the remaining 18 states have family member and/or location exceptions to their underage consumption laws.

Federal law explicitly provides for religious, medical, employment and private club possession exceptions; as of 2005, 31 states have family member and/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 minors (those under the age of 21).[18]

By a judge's ruling, South Carolina appears to allow the possession and consumption of alcohol by those 18 to 20 years of age though a circuit court judge said otherwise.[19]

Template:Country data United States Virgin Islands 18[20]
Template:Country data Uruguay None 18[1]
Template:Country data Venezuela 18[1]


Country / region De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
Template:Country data Afghanistan illegal[21]
Template:Country data Armenia None
Template:Country data Azerbaijan 18[1]
Template:Country data Brunei illegal[1] Although it is illegal to purchase alcohol in Brunei, it is legal to import it into Brunei once every 120 hours, providing the alcohol is consumed by only the person who purchased it, that they have no stock of alcohol and it is consumed on their own premises.
Template:Country data Bangladesh illegal[22]
Template:Country data Cambodia None[23]
Template:Country data People's Republic of China None[1] 18[1] Introduced in January 2006.[24]
Template:Country data Georgia 16[1]
Template:Country data Hong Kong 18[1]
Template:Country data India 18–25 (varies between states).[1] Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the states of Manipur, Mizoram and Gujarat.[25]
Template:Country data Indonesia 21[1]
Template:Country data Iran Illegal Iran has a ban on all alcohol, but religious minorities may purchase small amounts from shops owned by the same religious minority.[26]
Template:Country data Iraq 18[1] Forbidden to Muslims
Template:Country data Israel None[1] 18[1]
Template:Country data Jordan 18[27]
Template:Country data Japan 20[1]
Template:Country data Kazakhstan 21[28] Sources given by Askar Perneyev. Alcohol sales are forbidden after 11.00 p.m.
Template:Country data Kuwait illegal[29]
Template:Country data Kyrgyzstan 18[1]
Template:Country data Lebanon 18[1]
Template:Country data Macau None[1] None[1][30]
Template:Country data Malaysia None[1] 18[1] In areas with more than 50% of Muslim population, sale of alcohol is restricted to selected places. It is illegal to sell alcohol to Muslims and to persons under 18, but there are no restrictions on drinking age.
Template:Country data Maldives 18[1] Sale of alcohol is limited to tourist resorts. It is illegal to sell alcohol to Muslims.
Template:Country data Mongolia 18[31]
Template:Country data Nepal 18[1] None
Template:Country data North Korea 18[citation needed] Alcoholic beverages are served on Saturdays.[citation needed]
Template:Country data Oman 21[1]
Template:Country data Pakistan 21 Illegal for Muslims[1]
Template:Country data Philippines 18[32]
Template:Country data Saudi Arabia illegal Forbidden by Sharia. Offenders are typically punished with lashes.
Template:Country data Singapore 18[1]
Template:Country data South Korea 19[1] If a person is 20 years old according to Korean age reckoning, that person may drink alcohol.
Template:Country data Sri Lanka 21[1]
Template:Country data Republic of China (Taiwan) 18[33]
  • It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to consume alcohol.[34]
  • Parents, guardians, and others taking care of people under 18 shall prohibit underage drinking,[35] or risk administrative fines of 10000 to 50000 new Taiwan dollars when the situations are serious.[36]
  • One shall not supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 6.[37] A violator shall be administratively fined 3000 to 15000 new Taiwan dollars.[38]
Template:Country data Tajikistan 21[1] Off-limits to the Muslim majority
Template:Country data Thailand 18[1] clubbing age is 20
Template:Country data Turkmenistan 18[1]
Template:Country data United Arab Emirates 21 Expatriate, non-Muslim residents may request a liquor permit to purchase alcoholic beverages; it is illegal for such holders to provide drinks to others.[39]
Template:Country data Vietnam None
Template:Country data Yemen illegal


Country / region De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
Template:Country data Albania None
Template:Country flag2 16, 18 for distilled beverages in some areas. Upper Austria, Salzburg and Tirol prohibit the consumption of distilled beverages below the age of 18, while Carinthia and Styria prohibit drinks containing more than 12% or 14% of alcohol respectively in this age bracket. Carinthia additionally requires adolescents to maintain a blood alcohol level below 0.05%, while Upper Austria prohibits "excessive consumption", and Salzburg prohibits consumption that would result in a state of intoxication. Prohibitions in Vienna, Burgenland, Lower Austria and Vorarlberg apply only to alcohol consumption in public. Vienna additionally prohibits the consumption of alcohol in schools under the age of 18.[40]
Template:Country data Belarus 18[16]
Template:Country data Belgium (Bars, etc.) 16/18 for distilled and strong spirits (>22%) 16/18 for distilled and strong spirits (>22%), none for Beer and Wine[1] In Belgium, the purchase age and drinking age for distilled and strong spirits (greater than 22%) is 18 years. There is no drinking age for other alcoholic beverages; 16 year olds can buy these in stores but may not order or buy them in bars. However, it is legal for an older person to order those drinks and passes them to a person less than 16.[41]
Template:Country data Bosnia and Herzegovina 16[citation needed] 18[citation needed]
Template:Country data Bulgaria None 18[16] Bulgaria's Health Act prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons under 18 years of age, but not their consumption.[42]
Template:Country data Croatia 18[16]
Template:Country data Cyprus 17[16]
Template:Country data Czech Republic 18[43]
Template:Country data Denmark 16 for alcohol above 1,3% and bellow 16,5% and 18 for alcohol above 16,5%.
18 for all alcohol in bars, restaurants and discos. [1]
no limit for drinking at home.
To buy alcohol(above 1.2% and bellow 16,5% ABV) in stores, one must be 16, but to be served alcohol at bars, restaurants and discos the limit is 18. For alcohol above 16,5% you must be 18 [44]. [45] There is no drinking age, only a purchase age, and an adult may buy alcohol for a minor. By tradition, youths are privately allowed to drink alcohol after their confirmation.[46] 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.[47] This card is rarely used though since a passport or moped-licence can sometimes be used.[48]
Template:Country data Estonia 18[16] Drinking in public is prohibited for everyone. Stores may sell alcohol only between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Template:Country data Finland 18 (bars and restaurants), adult discretion in private[49]
18 (up to 22% ABV in stores and all alcohol in bars), 20 (all alcohol); alcohol may not be sold to intoxicated customers.
Age limits apply to purchase and possession. Police may search minors in public places and confiscate or destroy alcoholic beverages. Adults are responsible for alcohol use by minors in private. Stores may sell alcohol only between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Template:Country data France None 18 Buying alcohol is illegal below the age of 18[50] Selling alcohol to a minor can be fined 7500 euros.[51] The law has been changed recently.[52] Drinking alcohol is not forbidden to minors in private, but supplying them with alcohol that results in intoxication is forbidden.[53]
Template:Country data Germany 16 years for wine, beer, and cider; 18 for spirits and spirit-based beverages 16, 18 for distilled beverages[54] Possession or consumption of alcohol by minors is allowed, but it is illegal to sell minors alcohol or to let them drink in public below the respective drinking age. Fermented alcoholic beverages may be consumed by minors in public when in presence of a legal guardian; drinking in private is not restricted. The restrictions on distilled beverages apply also to mixed drinks containing them.[54]
Template:Country data Gibraltar None 16[55]
Template:Country data Greece None 16[16]
Template:Country data Hungary None 18[16]
Template:Country data Iceland 20[56] Possession or consumption of alcohol by minors is not an offence but supplying said with alcohol is. However, law allows alcohol possessed by a minor to be confiscated.
Template:Country data Ireland None, with permission from guardian in private residence 18 It is illegal for minors to buy alcohol, to attempt to buy it for minors, or for minors to consume alcohol in a public space in Ireland. Those under 18 may consume alcohol in a private residence when permission is given from a parent or guardian. It is illegal to purchase alcohol for anybody under the age of consent without permission from their guardians. One cannot purchase alcohol in a shop/off licence after 10 pm.[57]
Template:Country data Italy None 16, 18 South Tyrol prohibits both serving and purchase for people under the age of 18 and to everybody in a state of inebriation.[58] Milan has enforced a ban on those under 16 purchasing alcohol. Heavy fines are given to proprieters and parents if a transaction is completed.
Template:Country data Latvia 18[16]
Template:Country data Liechtenstein 16 for wine, beer and cider
18 for spirits and spirit-based beverages. e.g. alcopops
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.[59]
Template:Country data Lithuania 18[16]
Template:Country data Luxembourg 16[16]
Template:Country data Macedonia 18[citation needed]
Template:Country data Malta 17[16] Must provide identification upon request.
Template:Country data Moldova 18[16]
Template:Country data Montenegro None 18[citation needed]
Template:Country data Netherlands Currently None, but will become 16/18 when a new law, passed in the Dutch government on the 28th of June, becomes active.[60] 16 (under 15% ABV),
18 (15% ABV and over)
If the person is under the age of 20, an identity card has to be shown before buying. Drinking in public is banned by local ordinance in most municipalities. Selling alcohol to underage customers carries a fine of €900–€3,600.
Template:Country data Norway 18 (beer and wine)
20 (≥22% ABV)[61]
Selling alcohol to minors or buying alcohol on behalf of 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 possessed by minors may be confiscated as evidence. Drinking in public is prohibited for everyone, even those over the legal age.

Template:Country data Poland None 18[62] §15.1 Clearly states that buyers must be at least 18 and prove it with ID if they look like they may not be at least that age. However, drinking alcohol under 18 is allowed.
Template:Country data Portugal 16[16]
Template:Country data Romania None[63] 18 [64] According to law 61/1991 updated in 2008, paragraphs 21-25, it is illegal to serve or sell alcohol to minors. The law also imposes restrictions on serving or selling alcohol in some public locations (parks, hospitals, schools, stadiums, airports, public transport etc) or during certain events (strikes, public meetings, sport events etc)
Template:Country data Russia None 18[65] There is no law or regulation in Russia, which prohibits drinking alcohol from persons not of legal age, but selling alcohol to the minors is prohibited by federal as well as additional regional laws.
Template:Country data Serbia 18[citation needed] Sale of alcoholic beverages to minors is prohibited.
Template:Country data Slovakia 18[16]
Template:Country data Slovenia 18[1] There is no law regulating the possession and consumption, but it is illegal to sell or offer alcohol of any kind to minors. Also, it is illegal to sell alcohol in stores from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and before 10 a.m. in bars and restaurants. The law also prohibits serving alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers as well as less than 1 h before and during sport events.[citation needed]
Template:Country data Spain 18[16] 16 in Asturias.[16] It is illegal to sell alcohol to people under 18, the fine being between €30,000 and €600,000.[66] Stores are not allowed to sell alcohol between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m after a recent law was passed.[67]
Template:Country data Sweden None (less than 2.25% ABV)
18 (bars and restaurants)[16]
18 (2.25%–3.5% ABV in normal shops),
20 (Systembolaget shops[68] stores),
See also alcohol in Sweden. Many clubs choose to have higher age limits than 18, commonly 20 or 23. It is legal to drink below 18, but it is illegal to sell, lend or give alcohol to someone under that age,[69] and the police can seize alcohol from them. The reason for lower limit in bars than in Systembolaget shops is that bartenders have a legal responsibility for how drunk a guest gets.
Template:Country data Switzerland 16/18 (for beer, wine and cider), 18 (for spirits, liquor and alcopops)[1] Age for non-spirits varies by canton
Template:Country data Turkey 16 (restaurants and with meal), 18 (otherwise)[16] The government has been steadily restricting alcohol in Turkey, with proposals to create alcohol-free zones,[70] bars on alcohol sold in new packaging,[71] bans on sports advertising, restricting sales, and making it harder to have alcohol at public events.[72] Only those over 24 may participate in events which distribute alcohol.[73]
Template:Country data Ukraine 18[1]
Template:Country flag2

5 (in private)

16 (in public with a meal, has to be accompanied by an adult in England and Wales)

18 (otherwise)

18 Children under 5 must not be given alcohol unless under medical supervision or in an emergency (Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937).[74][75]

The minimum age for the purchase of alcohol is 18. People aged 16 or 17 may consume wine, beer or cider on licensed premises (pubs/bars/restaurants) with a table meal. In England and Wales, it must be an adult who orders,[76] however an adult doesn't have to be present to order alcohol with a meal in Scotland. The legal age for the purchase of alcohol from an off-licence (store/supermarket) is 18. (The legal age to buy liqueur chocolates is 16, but this is rarely enforced.)

Under the BBPA's Challenge 21 scheme, customers attempting to buy alcoholic beverages are asked to prove their age if in the retailer's opinion they look under 21 even though the law states they must be a minimum of 18. Many supermarket and off-licence chains display Challenge 21 notices stating that they will not serve persons who look under 21 without ID.

Supermarkets or off-license chains which are found to have violated the law and have repeatedly sold alcohol to underage persons are then required to adopt the Challenge 25 scheme. Failing to adhere to this will result in revocation of the license to sell alcohol.

Purchasing alcohol on behalf of a minor is illegal in all of the United Kingdom. This means acting as the young person's agent.[77][78]


Country / region De jure Notes
Drinking age Purchase age
Template:Country data American Samoa 21[citation needed]
Template:Country data Australia 18[79] 18
Main article: alcohol laws of Australia
Minors may consume alcohol in a private residence with parental supervision.[80]
Template:Country data Fiji 18 The age was 21 from 2006-2009 but was lowered to 18 on May 19, 2009. The law is very rarely enforced.[81]
Template:Country data Guam 21 Raised to 21 on July 8, 2010.[82]
Template:Country data Micronesia, Federated States of 21[1]
Template:Country data New Zealand 18 18 Persons under 18 may not drink outside private residences or private functions unless accompanied by their parent or legal guardian, and may only be supplied with alcohol through their parent or legal guardian. A bill is currently in Parliament proposing to raise the age for off-licence purchases to 20.[83]
Template:Country data Northern Mariana Islands 21[citation needed]
Template:Country data Palau 21[16]
Template:Country data Papua New Guinea 18[16]
Template:Country data Samoa 18[16]
Template:Country data Solomon Islands None[16]
Template:Country data Tonga 18 None[1]
Template:Country data Tokelau 16[citation needed]
Template:Country data Vanuatu 18[16]

See also

  • Amethyst Initiative
  • Alcohol consumption by youth in the United States
  • National Minimum Drinking Age Act
  • National Youth Rights Association
  • Shoulder tap
  • The Century Council
  • Choose Responsibility
  • Mature minor doctrine


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External links

Template:Law country lists

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