This article needs to be updated.(April 2018)
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 among 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.
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, Nicaragua,and Zimbabwe 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. Due to the fact that the brain is still maturing, alcohol can have 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.
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 a 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.
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Angola||None||There is no national legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors.|
|Luanda Province:||18||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.
|Botswana||None||18||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||18 (None if accompanied by parent or legal guardian)||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)||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||18||It is illegal for any person to sell or supply alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Central African Republic||None|
|Eritrea||None||18||It is illegal for any person to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years.|
|Ethiopia||None||15||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."|
|Gambia||None||17||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.|
|Kenya||None||18||It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Lesotho||18||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||It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Libya||Illegal||Previously Article 498 of the Libyan Penal Code prohibted the sale of alcoholic beverages to juveniles under the age of 16 years.|
|Malawi||None||18||It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Mauritius||None||18||It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Namibia||None||18||It is illegal to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years.|
|Republic of the Congo||None||18|
|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.|
16 (wine, beer, porter, cider, perry or native liquor with meal)
|It is illegal for any licensee to sell, serve or supply alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years. The law provides a 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.|
|Zambia||18||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.|
|Zimbabwe||None||16 ||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.|
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.
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Anguilla||None||18 ||It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic drinks to anyone under the age of 18 years. Violating the regulation is punished with a $9.600 fine.|
|Antigua and Barbuda||None||16||The sale and distribution of alcohol to a person under 16 years of age is illegal.|
|Bahamas||18||It is illegal for any adult to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic beverage to a child (defined as anyone under the age of 18 years). The law provides a exception to treat a illness in urgent cases or upon order by a medical doctor.|
|Barbados||None||16||It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to anyone under the age of 16 years. The President of the Barbados Road Safety Association is trying to raise the drinking age to 18 years due to the fact that the law is often violated.|
|Belize||18||Drinking age is rarely enforced. IDs are almost never requested.|
|Bermuda||18||It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to a child under the age of 18 years.|
|Bolivia||None||18 ||It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years. Every sold alcoholic beverage has to have a warning message on the bottle or container reading: "VENTA PROHIBIDA A MENORES DE 18 AÑOS DE EDAD" (Sale prohibited to (anyone) under 18 years of age) and "EL CONSUMO EXCESIVO DE ALCOHOL ES DAÑINO PARA LA SALUD" (Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to (ones) health).|
|Brazil||None||18 ||It is illegal to sell, serve or supply any alcoholic beverage to a person under 18 years of age. The presidential law enacted on March 17 2015 made any violation of the law a criminal offence. Any adult person selling, serving, giving or supplying alcoholic beverages to a minor is punished with imprisonment of 2 to 4 years, a fine of R$ 3.000 to R$ 10.000 and a ban to operate any business selling or serving alcohol.|
|British Virgin Islands||16||It is illegal 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 probits the sale of alcoholic beverages to a minor under the age of 18 years.|
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
|Cayman Islands||18||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||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.|
|Colombia||None||18||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.|
|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 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.|
|Cuba||None||16||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 defacto 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.|
|Ecuador||None||18||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.|
|El Salvador||None||18||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.|
|Falkland Islands||18||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.|
|Grenada||18||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.|
|Guatemala||18||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.|
|Guyana||18/16 for beer, wine and cider with meal||It is illegal to sell or serve alcool to a person under 18 years of age. The law provides a 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 a offence.|
|Haiti||None||18||It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to minors from May 17 2017. Vendors are required to check identification.|
|Jamaica||None||18||It is illegal to sell or serve any alcoholic beverage to a child (which is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years).|
|Mexico||18||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.|
18 (bars, clubs, markets, supermarkets, sports and recreation centers)
|The law from 1980 prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors under the age of 18 years. Ever 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.|
|Paraguay||20||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)|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||16|
|Trinidad and Tobago||None||18||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.|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||None||18||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.|
| United States
(50 states and integral territories)
|Varies by jurisdiction||21||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.
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 year in jail.
|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 illegal.|
|Venezuela||None||18||Only selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is prohibited, consumption and purchase by minors is not illegal.|
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Bangladesh||(Illegal for Muslims.)||Alcohol will be sold to foreigners in certain locations, albeit clandestinely.|
|Brunei||17 with restrictions, unless Muslim||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.".|
|China||Only selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is prohibited, consumption by minors is not illegal.||Introduced in January 2006.|
|Hong Kong||18||The regulation is only applicable to restaurants, bars and clubs, where a liquor license is required. Private drinking is also not regulated.|
|India||18-25 (varies by jurisdiction)||Consumption of alcohol is illegal in the states of Bihar, Gujarat and Nagaland.|
|Iran||Illegal ||There is a ban on alcohol, but religious minorities may purchase small amounts from shops owned by the same religious minority.|
|Israel||None||18||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.|
|Lebanon||18||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.|
|Malaysia||21||Increased from 18 to 21 in December 2017.|
|Maldives||Illegal except for tourists, 18||Sale of alcohol is limited to tourist resorts. It is illegal to sell alcohol to local Maldivians|
|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.|
|Oman||21||Residents need personal liquor licenses to consume alcohol in their private residences.|
|Pakistan||Illegal (18 for non-Muslims) ||Non-Muslim citizens may possess alcohol to be used in accordance with religious ceremonies|
|Palestinian Authority||16||Legal in most cities.|
|Qatar||Illegal||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.|
|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.|
|Singapore||None (Private places, sometimes with permission from parents/guardian)
18 (Public places e.g. bars and restaurants)
|18||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".. 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.|
|South Korea||None||19||The age limit for alcohol is after January 1 of the year one's age turns to 19.|
|Thailand||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.|
|United Arab Emirates||18-21 (varies by jurisdiction).||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.
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).
It is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public.
|Yemen||Illegal||Exception is in Aden Region where it's legal for 21 and up|
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, 2007 and recently in 2015 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:
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Armenia||None||18||There are no laws mandating alcohol vendors to ID potential underage drinkers. ID checks are very rarely, if ever, carried out|
|16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (distilled beverages)
|Carinthia also requires adolescents to maintain a blood alcohol level below 0.05%.|
|Azerbaijan||None||18||It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to a minor under 18 years of age.|
|Belarus||None||18||The law prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years. However, the law is rarely enforced.|
|Belgium||None||16 (beer, wine and cider)
|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. Previously, it was illegal to sell alcoholic 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 a offence. The law does not prohibit minors from buying, attempting to buy or consuming alcohol.|
|Bulgaria||None||18||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.|
|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||None||17||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.|
|Czech Republic||None||18||It is illegal to provide alcohol to minors (punishable by fine or up to 1 or 2 year(s) imprisonment). Consumption itself is not prohibited by law.|
|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:
By tradition, youths are privately allowed to drink alcohol after their confirmation. 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 drivers license is more commonly used.
|Estonia||18||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)
|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 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.
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 to a minor (under 18) is illegal and can be fined 7500 euros. This age was raised from 16 to 18 in 2009.|
|Georgia||None||18||By Georgian law, the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18 years is prohibited.|
|Germany||14(beer, wine and cider if accompanied)
16 (beer, wine and cider)
18 (spirits and aliments containing spirits above negligible amounts)
|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 50.000EUR.
16(beer, wine and cider)
|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:|
|Greece||None||18||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.|
|Iceland||None||20||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)||18||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.|
|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 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 EUR250 and EUR1000 (Legge n. 189/2013).|
|Latvia||None||18||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.|
|Liechtenstein||16 beer, wine and cider
18 spirits and spirit-based beverages
|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.|
|Lithuania||20||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.|
|Luxembourg||None ||16||It is illegal to sell or serve alcoholic beverages >1.2% ABV to any person under the age of 16 years. Violation is fined EUR251 to EUR1.000.|
|Macedonia||18||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||Must provide identification upon request.|
|Moldova||None||18||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.|
|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.|
20 (>=22% ABV)
|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 possessed by minors may be confiscated as evidence. Drinking in public is prohibited, though this is rarely enforced in recreational areas.
|Poland||None||18||Article 15 of The Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism 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.|
|Romania||None||18||According to law 61/1991 updated in 2008, paragraphs 21-25, it is illegal to serve or sell alcohol to minors.|
|Russia||None||18||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.|
|Slovenia||None||18||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.|
|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 and the police can seize alcohol from them, apart from being served alcohol supervised in private "in moderation". It is legal to serve an underage person alcohol in a private place. 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
|16 (fermented alcoholic drinks with less than 15% ABV and natural wines with less than 18% ABV)
|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. 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||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.|
|United Kingdom|| England
16 (beer, wine or cider with meal)
None (under medical supervision, or in an emergency)
|Legislation in England and Wales:
16 (beer, wine or cider on licensed premises with meal)
|Legislation in Scotland:
|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 (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.|
|Drinking age||Purchase age|
|Australia||18||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.|
|Fiji||18||The drinking age was 21 from 2006 to 2009 but was lowered to 18 in 2009.|
|Micronesia, Federated States of||18|
|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.
|Northern Mariana Islands||21|
|Palau||21||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 commiting a offence. The law provides a exception for the consumption of alcohol by minors as part of a religiously recognized ceremony.|
|Papua New Guinea||18||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.|
|Samoa||21||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.|
|Solomon Islands||None||21||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.|
|Tonga||18||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.|
|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.|