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At What Age Can You Have Your First Drink of Alcohol

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Get to Know What is the Legal Drinking Age Around the World
The Map Shows the Legal Drinking Age Around the World (On Premises)

 

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Minimum legal drinking age is the age at which a person can legally consume, or purchase alcoholic beverages. However, there is no standard drinking age across the world as each nation has its own set of rules and laws. It may range from as young as 16 in some nations to around 25 in others.

Some countries have made consuming alcohol outright illegal and defying the law may even land you behind the bars, whereas in some others the norms vary from one region to other. So, just read on and get to know what is the legal age to consume alcohol around the world.

According to an interesting data prepared by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), in Antigua and Barbuda, Burundi, Cuba, Dominica, Gambia, Grenada, Luxembourg, etc., the legal drinking age is 16 (on premises); however, in Malta, a person should at least be of 17 years before he can have a peg (or two) of alcoholic beverage.

As per the data, a significant number of countries allow their citizens to have the first taste of alcohol at the age of 18. Some of the countries in this category are Algeria, Argentina, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, Peru, the Philippines and many other nations. In South Korea, a person needs to be at least 19 years of age before he can consume alcohol.

Countries like Japan, Iceland, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and a few others allow their citizens to have the first sip of alcohol at the age of 20, while in nations like the United States, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Mongolia, Oman and others, the person will have to be at least 21. As per the IARD data, in some nations consuming alcohol is illegal. These are nations with large Muslim populations and include Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, Libya and a few others.

In some nations, laws pertaining to alcohol can become quite inconsistent depending on the region you are in. In India, the minimum legal drinking age in a majority of states is 21. However, in a few states a person can start drinking as early as 18, while in others he or she will have to wait till the age of 25. Meanwhile, there are certain states where alcohol is illegal.

Similarly, in Canada, some provinces have the minimum legal drinking age as 18, while others have it as 19. In some countries like Belgium, one can consume alcoholic beverages at 16, but he or she has to be at least 18 to consume spirits.

Country Legal Drinking Age (On Premises) Notes
Antigua and Barbuda 16
Burundi 16
Cuba 16
Dominica 16
Gambia 16
Grenada 16
Luxembourg 16
San Marino 16
Saint Vincent 16
Malta 17
Albania 18
Algeria 18
Andorra 18
Argentina 18
Armenia 18
Azerbaijan 18
Bahamas 18
Belarus 18
Belize 18
Bermuda 18
Bhutan 18
Bolivia 18
Bosnia and Herzegovina 18
Botswana 18
Brazil 18
Bulgaria 18
Cabo Verde 18
Cayman Islands 18
Chile 18
China 18
Colombia 18
Costa Rica 18
Croatia 18
Cyprus 18
Czech Republic 18
Denmark 18
Dominican Republic 18
Ecuador 18
El Salvador 18
Eritrea 18
Estonia 18
Ethiopia 18
Fiji 18
Finland 18 18 for beverages up to 22% ABV; 20 for other beverages
France 18
Gabon 18
Georgia 18
Ghana 18
Greece 18
Guatemala 18
Honduras 18
Hungary 18
Ireland 18
Israel 18
Italy 18
Jamaica 18
Jordan 18
Kenya 18
Kyrgyzstan 18
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 18
Latvia 18
Lebanon 18
Lesotho 18
Liberia 18
Lithuania 18
Macedonia 18
Malawi 18
Mauritius 18
Mexico 18
Moldova 18
Monaco 18
Montenegro 18
Mozambique 18
Myanmar 18
Namibia 18
Nepal 18
Netherlands 18
Nicaragua 18
Niger 18
Niue 18
Panama 18
Papua New Guinea 18
Peru 18
Philippines 18
Poland 18
Portugal 18
Romania 18
Russia 18
Rwanda 18
Saint Kitts and Nevis 18
Saint Lucia 18
Senegal 18
Serbia 18
Seychelles 18
Singapore 18
Slovakia 18
Slovenia 18
South Africa 18 The National Liquor Policy, under discussion in 2015, proposes to raise the on- and off- premise legal purchasing ages to 21.
Swaziland 18
Sweden 18 18 for beer of 3.5% ABV or lower, 20 otherwise
Suriname 18
Tajikistan 18
Tanzania 18
Trinidad and Tobago 18
Turkey 18
Turkmenistan 18
Ukraine 18
Uruguay 18
Vanuatu 18
Venezuela 18
Vietnam 18
Zambia 18
Zimbabwe 18
Guyana 18 * Except 16 for wine or malt liquor to be consumed with a meal
Uganda 18 * *16 for beer, wine, perry, porter, cider, or native liquor with a meal in a meal-service section of the premises
United Kingdom 18 *  *16 for beer, cider, and wine with a meal and bought by and accompanied by an adult. This does not apply in Northern Ireland.
Australia 18* Regulated at state / territory level. Exceptions may apply if accompanied by a responsible adult.
Cameroon 18* *Unless accompanied by person aged 21 or above in a supervisory role
New Zealand 18* Does not apply if accompanied by permitting parent or legal guardian
Spain 18* *Baleares Islands autonomous region does not have specific regulation limiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors.
Korea, Republic of 19* Being 19 is defined, for the purposes of this legislation, as effective from January 1st of the 19th year after one’s birth
Benin 20
Iceland 20
Japan 20
Paraguay 20
Thailand 20
Uzbekistan 20
Egypt 21
Kazakhstan 21
Kiribati 21
Marshall Islands 21
Mongolia 21
Nauru 21
Oman 21
Palau 21
Solomon Islands 21
Sri Lanka 21
Tonga 21
Samoa 21 * *Unless at a food and beverage establishment and accompanied by parent
United States 21 * See the NIAAA Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) for more details
* 18 for on-premise and off-premise sales in Puerto Rico (Law 118, 18 October 1984)
Afghanistan [illegal]
Bahrain [illegal]
Brunei [illegal] 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.”
Iran [illegal]
Iraq [illegal]
Kuwait [illegal]
Libya [illegal]
Maldives [illegal] Prohibition applies to citizens
Mauritania [illegal]
Pakistan [illegal] Non-Muslim citizens may possess alcohol to be used in accordance with religious ceremonies
Qatar [illegal]
Saudi Arabia [illegal]
Sudan [illegal]
Yemen [illegal]
Cambodia [none]
Djibouti [none]
Guinea Bissau [none]
Haiti [none]
Mali [none]
Sao Tome and Principe [none]
Sierra Leone [none]
Syria [none]
Timor-Leste [none]
Togo [none]
Switzerland [varies by beverage and jurisdiction] 18 for spirits

16 or 18 for beer and wine depending on the Canton

Belgium [varies by beverage] Both on- and off-premise: 18 for spirits, 16 for other alcohol beverages
Germany [varies by beverage] 16 for beer and wine, 18 for spirits

Those below 18 years of age are not permitted in premises licensed as bars, nightclubs and similar entertainment venues.

Liechtenstein [varies by beverage] 18 for spirits and alcopops; 16 for other alcoholic beverages
Norway [varies by beverage] Both on- and off-premise sales:

18 for beverages of 0.7-22% ABV

20 for beverages of 22% ABV and above

Austria [varies by jurisdiction and by beverage] Both on- and off-premise: 18 for spirits and mixed drinks containing spirits; 16 for beer, wine, champagne

Burgenland, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna specifically prohibit serving alcoholic beverages to those under 16 years of age

India [varies by jurisdiction] 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

[Illegal] in Bihar, Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland, Lakshadweep

Indonesia [varies by jurisdiction] Illegal in Banda Aceh and Papua, 21 elsewhere for both on- and off-premise
Nigeria [varies by jurisdiction]
Canada [varies by province] 18 in Manitoba, Alberta, and Quebec; 19 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.
United Arab Emirates [varies by religion and jurisdiction]
Bangladesh [varies by religion] Alcohol may not be purchased by Muslims.
Comoros [varies by religion] Illegal for Muslims
Malaysia [varies by religion] Illegal for Muslims; 18 otherwise for on- and off-premise
Morocco [varies by religion] Illegal for Muslims

(Data sourced from International Alliance for Responsible Drinking)

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