Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) in 190 Countries



The charts below contain the Minimum Legal Drinking Ages (MLDAs) and related data for 190 independent states recognized by the US State Department as of July 15, 2015. The data were taken from the World Health Organization's 2014 "Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014," unless otherwise noted. No drinking age information was available for Djibouti, Lebanon, Marshall Islands, North Korea, or South Sudan, the other five countries listed by the State Department as independent states.

Of the 190 countries, 61% have a drinking age of 18 or 19 years old. The United States and 11 other countries have an MLDA of 21 years old, the highest MLDA of all the countries where it is legal to drink (although some areas of India have drinking ages as high as 25 and 30 years old). Alcohol is banned in 16 countries, all of them Muslim countries, although some have exceptions for non-Muslims.

I. Minimum Legal Drinking Ages in 190 Countries (categorized by lowest legal age minimum for any type of alcohol or purchase)
No MLDA (19 countries)
Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Kosovo, Laos, Mali, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Togo
10-15 MLDA (2 countries)
Antigua and Barbuda, Central African Republic
16-17 MLDA (21 countries)
Austria, Belgium, Congo, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland
18-19 MLDA (115 countries)
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
20 MLDA (5 countries)
Iceland, Japan, Paraguay, Thailand, Uzbekistan
21 MLDA (12 countries)
Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Samoa, Sri Lanka, United States
Illegal to drink alcohol at any age (16 countries) some exceptions for non-Muslims may apply
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

II. Country-by-Country Chart of Minimum Drinking Age Laws
When available, each country is linked to a PDF document from the World Health Organization (WHO) detailing its alcohol policy. On premise refers to bars, cafes, restaurants, etc. Off premise refers to liquor stores, wine shops, and supermarkets.
Country On Premise Purchase Age Off Premise Purchase Age Notes
Afghanistan Total ban Total ban
Albania 18 18
Algeria 18 18
Andorra 18 18
Angola 18 18
Antigua and Barbuda 10 10
Argentina 18 18
Armenia 18 18
Australia 18 18
Austria 16/18 16/18 Alcohol laws vary by state: three states have an age minimum of 16 while six states have a minimum age of 18.
Azerbaijan 18 18
Bahamas 18 18
Bahrain Illegal (18 for non-Muslims) Illegal (18 for non-Muslims) No info provided by WHO. Alcohol is illegal for Muslims, and drinking in public is forbidden. Only certain places are allowed to sell alcohol.
Bangladesh Total ban Total ban Alcohol is illegal for Muslims and purchase by others is highly restricted. Non-Muslim tourists are allowed to bring two bottles of alcohol for personal use.
Barbados 18 18 Sources say children ages 10-17 may drink in the presence of a parent or guardian.
Belarus 18 18
Belgium 16/18 16/18 On- and off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Belize 18 18
Benin No age minimum No age minimum
Bhutan 18 18
Bolivia No age minimum No age minimum The drinking age used to be listed as 18, but the WHO no longer lists any age minimum.
Bosnia and Herzegovina 18 18
Botswana 18 18
Brazil 18 18
Brunei Darussalam Total ban Total ban Non-Muslim tourists over age 17 may be allowed to import 2 bottles of liquor and 12 cans of beer for personal use.
Bulgaria 18 18
Burkina Faso No age minimum No age minimum
Burundi 18 No age minimum
Cambodia No age minimum No age minimum
Cameroon No age minimum No age minimum The WHO lists no drinking age; other sources say 18 on-premise and 21 off-premise.
Canada 18/19 18/19 18: Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec; 19: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Cape Verde 18 18
Central African Republic 21 15
Chad 18 18
Chile 18 18
China No age minimum No age minimum The WHO lists no drinking age; other sources say a 2006 ban instituted a drinking age of 18 but say it is not enforced.
Colombia 18 18
Comoros 18 18
Congo 16 18 On-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Costa Rica 18 18
Côte d'Ivoire 21 21
Croatia 18 18
Cuba 18 18
Cyprus 17 17
Czech Republic 18 18
Country On Premise Purchase Age Off Premise Purchase Age Notes
Democratic Republic of the Congo 18 18
Denmark 18 16/18 Off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Djibouti N/A N/A No info provided by WHO.
Dominica 16 16
Dominican Republic 18 18
Ecuador 18 18
Egypt 18/21 18/21 On- and off-premise age minimum is 18 for beer/21 for wine and spirits.
El Salvador 18 18
Equatorial Guinea 21 21
Eritrea 18 18
Estonia 18 18
Ethiopia 18 18
Fiji 18 18
Finland 18 18/20 Off-premise age minimum is 18 for beer and wine/20 for spirits.
France 18 18
Gabon 18 No age minimum
Gambia 18 18
Georgia 18 18
Germany 16/18 16/18 On- and off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Ghana 18 18
Greece 18 18
Grenada 16 16
Guatemala 18 18
Guinea 18 18
Guinea-Bissau No age minimum No age minimum
Guyana 18 16
Haiti 16 16 No info provided by WHO; other sources list drinking age as 16.
Honduras 18 18
Hungary 18 18
Iceland 20 20
India 18-25 18-25 The drinking age varies by state. In New Delhi, for example, the drinking age is 25, while in Goa it is 18. Mahrashtra's Wardha district has a drinking age of 30.
Indonesia No age minimum 21
Iran Total ban Total ban The alcohol ban was instituted after the 1979 revolution. In 2012, an Iranian news organization reported that two people were sentenced to death for drinking alcohol following two previous convictions for those same people, for which each received 80 lashes. A 2004 WHO report noted that "Religious minorities can buy alcoholic beverages from very few specifically licensed shops owned by shopkeepers of the same minority."
Iraq 21 21 Sources say only Iraqi Christians are permitted to sell alcohol; alcohol sales were banned entirely from 2006-08.
Ireland 18 18
Israel 18 18
Italy 18 18
Jamaica 18 18
Japan 20 20
Jordan 18 18
Kazakhstan 18 18
Kenya 18 18
Kiribati 21 21
Kosovo No age minimum No age minimum No info provided by WHO; other sources list no age minimum or say the drinking age is 18.
Country On Premise Purchase Age Off Premise Purchase Age Notes
Kuwait Total ban Total ban No info provided by WHO; Alcohol has been banned since 1964 and drinking has been a criminal offense since 1983.
Kyrgyzstan 18 18
Laos 18/No No age minimum On-premise age minimum is 18 for beer; no age minimum listed for wine or spirits.
Latvia 18 18
Lebanon N/A N/A No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 or 18 as the drinking age
Lesotho 18 18
Liberia 18 18
Libya Total ban Total ban
Liechtenstein 16/18 16/18 No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Lithuania 18 18
Luxembourg 16 16
Macedonia 18 18
Madagascar 18 18
Malawi 18 18
Malaysia 18 18
Maldives Total ban Total ban
Mali No age minimum No age minimum
Malta 17 17
Marshall Islands N/A N/A No info provided by WHO.
Mauritania Total ban Total ban
Mauritius 18 18
Mexico 18 18
Micronesia 21 21
Moldova 18 18
Monaco 18 18
Mongolia 21 21
Montenegro 18 18
Morocco 16/18 16/18 No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 or 18 as the drinking age.
Mozambique 18 18
Myanmar 18 18
Namibia 18 18
Nauru 21 21 No info provided by WHO; other sources list 21 as the drinking age.
Nepal 18 18
Netherlands 18 18 The WHO lists age 16 as the on- and off-premise age minimum for beer, but the Netherlands government website says that as of Jan. 2014, "It is a criminal offence for anyone under 18 to have alcohol in their possession in public and selling alcohol to minors is illegal."
New Zealand 18 18
Nicaragua 18 18
Niger 18 18
Nigeria 18 18
North Korea N/A N/A No info provided by WHO.
Norway 18/20 18/20 On- and off-premise age miniumum is 18 for beer and wine/20 for spirits.
Oman 21 21
Pakistan Illegal (21 for non-Muslims) Illegal (21 for non-Muslims) Alcohol is illegal for Muslims and consumption is a crime in Pakistan punishable by whipping. Non-Muslims are are provided special permits to purchase liquor but they are not allowed to use it in public. Pakistan penal code, under the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order of 1979, awards 80 lashes to those convicted of consuming alcohol.
Palau 21 21
Panama 18 18
Papua New Guinea 18 18
Paraguay 20 20
Peru 18 18
Philippines 18 18
Poland 18 18
Portugal 16 16
Qatar Total ban Total ban No info provided by WHO; other sources say that alcohol is banned for Muslims. Alcohol for non-Muslims is highly restricted and may be purchased at certain hotels or with a permit to shop at a government­-owned store. The country has said it intends to find "creative" solutions for the alcohol restrictions while hosting the 2022 World Cup.
Country On Premise Purchase Age Off Premise Purchase Age Notes
Romania 18 18
Russia 18 18
Rwanda 18 No age minimum
Saint Kitts and Nevis 18 18
Saint Lucia 16 18
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 16 16
Samoa 21 21 No info provided by WHO; other sources list 21
San Marino 16 16
Sao Tome and Principe No age minimum No age minimum
Saudi Arabia Total ban Total ban
Senegal 18 18 WHO lists the drinking age as 18; other sources say 20 or that there is no drinking age.
Serbia 18 18
Seychelles 18 18
Sierra Leone No age minimum No age minimum
Singapore 18 18
Slovakia 18 18
Slovenia 18 18
Solomon Islands No age minimum 21 No info provided by WHO; other sources say drinking age is 21 but there is no minimum age for purchase.
Somalia Total ban Total ban
South Africa 18 18
South Korea 19 19
South Sudan N/A N/A No info provided by WHO.
Spain 16 16 WHO lists the drinking age as 16; other sources say that the minimum age varies by region, that it is 18, or that minors may purchase alcohol if accompanied by their parents.
Sri Lanka 21 21
Sudan Total ban Total ban
Suriname 18 18
Swaziland 18 18
Sweden 18 18/20 18 for beer/20 for wine and spirits
Switzerland 16/18 16/18 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits
Syria 18 18
Tajikistan 18 18
Tanzania 18 18
Thailand 20 20
Timor-Leste No age minimum No age minimum
Togo No age minimum No age minimum
Tonga 18 18
Trinidad and Tobago 18 18
Tunisia 18 18
Turkey 18 18
Turkmenistan 18 18
Tuvalu 18 18
Uganda 18 18
Ukraine 18 18
United Arab Emirates Total ban Total ban No info provided by WHO; other sources say alcohol is banned in UAE, but non-Muslim tourists may apply for a drinking license. The license is apparently very difficult to obtain and may be limited to those over 18 or 21, depending on location.
United Kingdom 18 18
United States 21 21 The repeal of prohibition by the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933 allowed each state to set its own alcohol consumption laws. Following the July 1, 1971 passage of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18 years of age, 30 US states lowered the MLDA to 18, 19, or 20. By 1982, only 14 states still had an MLDA of 21. The enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 prompted states to raise their legal age for purchase or public possession of alcohol to 21 or risk losing millions in federal highway funds. By 1988, all 50 states had raised the MLDA to 21.
Uruguay 18 18
Uzbekistan 20 20
Vanuatu 18 18 No info provided by WHO; other sources say 18.
Vatican City (Holy See) 18 18 No info provided by WHO; other sources say 18.
Venezuela 18 18
Vietnam 18 18
Yemen Total ban Total ban In 2012, Al Qaeda militants reportedly gave four people 80 lashes each for drinking alcohol.
Zambia 18 18
Zimbabwe 18 18
Country On Premise Purchase Age
Off Premise Purchase Age Notes


Sources:

AFP, "Al Qaeda Lashes Four Yemenis for Drinking Alcohol," tribune.com.pk, Feb. 27, 2012

AIM - Alcohol in Moderation, "What is Legal drinking age (LDA)?," www.aim-digest.com, Jan. 2015

Jay R. Brooks, "Solomon Islands Beer," brookstonbeerbulletin.com, July 7, 2012

Zak Brophy, "Lebanon's Underage Drinking Problem," executive-magazine.com, Mar. 14, 2013

Manzoor Butt, "Use of Illegal Toxic Alcohol Is Killing Hundreds Every Year in Pakistan; Family Physicians Have to Play a More Proactive Role in Saving Precious Lives," Middle East Journal of Business, Apr. 2015

Caroline's Rainbow Foundation, "Drinking Age Restrictions," carolinesrainbowfoundation.org (accessed July 15, 2015)

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, "Legal Drinking Age for Alcohol in Canada," ccsa.ca (accessed July 15, 2015)

A Country a Month, "Local Food You Should Try in Kosovo and No-Miss Drinks in Kosovo," acountryamonth.com (accessed July 15, 2015)

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, "Iranian Pair Face Death Penalty after Third Alcohol Offence," theguardian.com, June 25, 2012

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Susanna George, "Beer and Chivas Fly off the Shelves as Baghdad's Liquor Stores Reopen after Ramadan," pri.org, Aug. 4, 2014

Murtaza Haider, "Alcohol Consumption in Pakistan: Don't Mix Sin with Crime," dawn.com, Oct. 29, 2014

Rob Harris and John Leicester, "Qatar to World Cup Critics: We're No Vampires," ap.org, Nov. 11, 2014

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Kenton Murray, "The Alcohol Guide to Qatar," kentonmurray.com, Oct. 23, 2014

Times of India, "Maharashtra's Legal Drinking Age is Highest in World," timesofindia.indiatimes.com, Jan. 24, 2011

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