Last updated on: 3/10/2016 | Author: ProCon.org

Minimum Legal Drinking Age 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 (20 countries)
Austria, Belgium, Congo, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland
 
18-19 MLDA (116 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, Netherlands, 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.
CountryOn Premise Purchase AgeOff Premise Purchase Age Notes
AfghanistanTotal banTotal ban 
Albania1818 
Algeria1818 
Andorra1818 
Angola1818 
Antigua and Barbuda1010 
Argentina1818 
Armenia1818 
Australia1818 
Austria16/1816/18Alcohol laws vary by state: three states have an age minimum of 16 while six states have a minimum age of 18.
Azerbaijan1818 
Bahamas1818 
BahrainIllegal (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.
BangladeshTotal banTotal banAlcohol 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.
Barbados1818Sources say children ages 10-17 may drink in the presence of a parent or guardian.
Belarus1818 
Belgium16/1816/18On- and off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Belize1818 
BeninNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Bhutan1818 
BoliviaNo age minimumNo age minimumThe drinking age used to be listed as 18, but the WHO no longer lists any age minimum.
Bosnia and Herzegovina1818 
Botswana1818 
Brazil1818 
Brunei DarussalamTotal banTotal banNon-Muslim tourists over age 17 may be allowed to import 2 bottles of liquor and 12 cans of beer for personal use.
Bulgaria1818 
Burkina FasoNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Burundi18No age minimum 
CambodiaNo age minimumNo age minimum 
CameroonNo age minimumNo age minimumThe WHO lists no drinking age; other sources say 18 on-premise and 21 off-premise.
Canada18/1918/1918: Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec; 19: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Cape Verde1818 
Central African Republic2115 
Chad1818 
Chile1818 
ChinaNo age minimumNo age minimumThe WHO lists no drinking age; other sources say a 2006 ban instituted a drinking age of 18 but say it is not enforced.
Colombia1818 
Comoros1818 
Congo1618On-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Costa Rica1818 
Côte d’Ivoire2121 
Croatia1818 
Cuba1818 
Cyprus1717 
Czech Republic1818 
Country On Premise Purchase AgeOff Premise Purchase AgeNotes
Democratic Republic of the Congo1818 
Denmark1816/18Off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
DjiboutiN/AN/ANo info provided by WHO.
Dominica1616 
Dominican Republic1818 
Ecuador1818 
Egypt18/2118/21On- and off-premise age minimum is 18 for beer/21 for wine and spirits.
El Salvador1818 
Equatorial Guinea2121 
Eritrea1818 
Estonia1818 
Ethiopia1818 
Fiji1818 
Finland1818/20Off-premise age minimum is 18 for beer and wine/20 for spirits.
France1818 
Gabon18No age minimum 
Gambia1818 
Georgia1818 
Germany16/1816/18On- and off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Ghana1818 
Greece1818 
Grenada1616 
Guatemala1818 
Guinea1818 
Guinea-BissauNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Guyana1816 
Haiti1616No info provided by WHO; other sources list drinking age as 16.
Honduras1818 
Hungary1818 
Iceland2020 
India18-2518-25The 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.
IndonesiaNo age minimum21 
IranTotal banTotal banThe 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.”
Iraq2121Sources say only Iraqi Christians are permitted to sell alcohol; alcohol sales were banned entirely from 2006-08.
Ireland1818 
Israel1818 
Italy1818 
Jamaica1818 
Japan2020 
Jordan1818 
Kazakhstan1818 
Kenya1818 
Kiribati2121 
KosovoNo age minimumNo age minimumNo info provided by WHO; other sources list no age minimum or say the drinking age is 18.
Country On Premise Purchase AgeOff Premise Purchase AgeNotes
KuwaitTotal banTotal banNo info provided by WHO; Alcohol has been banned since 1964 and drinking has been a criminal offense since 1983.
Kyrgyzstan1818 
Laos18/NoNo age minimumOn-premise age minimum is 18 for beer; no age minimum listed for wine or spirits.
Latvia1818 
LebanonN/AN/ANo info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 or 18 as the drinking age
Lesotho1818 
Liberia1818 
LibyaTotal banTotal ban 
Liechtenstein16/1816/18No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.
Lithuania1818 
Luxembourg1616 
Macedonia1818 
Madagascar1818 
Malawi1818 
Malaysia1818 
MaldivesTotal banTotal ban 
MaliNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Malta1717 
Marshall IslandsN/AN/ANo info provided by WHO.
MauritaniaTotal banTotal ban 
Mauritius1818 
Mexico1818 
Micronesia2121 
Moldova1818 
Monaco1818 
Mongolia2121 
Montenegro1818 
Morocco16/1816/18No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 or 18 as the drinking age.
Mozambique1818 
Myanmar1818 
Namibia1818 
Nauru2121No info provided by WHO; other sources list 21 as the drinking age.
Nepal1818 
Netherlands1818The 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 Zealand1818 
Nicaragua1818 
Niger1818 
Nigeria1818 
North KoreaN/AN/ANo info provided by WHO.
Norway18/2018/20On- and off-premise age miniumum is 18 for beer and wine/20 for spirits.
Oman2121 
PakistanIllegal (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.
Palau2121 
Panama1818 
Papua New Guinea1818 
Paraguay2020 
Peru1818 
Philippines1818 
Poland1818 
Portugal1616 
QatarTotal banTotal banNo 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 AgeOff Premise Purchase AgeNotes
Romania1818 
Russia1818 
Rwanda18No age minimum 
Saint Kitts and Nevis1818 
Saint Lucia1618 
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1616 
Samoa2121No info provided by WHO; other sources list 21
San Marino1616 
Sao Tome and PrincipeNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Saudi ArabiaTotal banTotal ban 
Senegal1818WHO lists the drinking age as 18; other sources say 20 or that there is no drinking age.
Serbia1818 
Seychelles1818 
Sierra LeoneNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Singapore1818 
Slovakia1818 
Slovenia1818 
Solomon IslandsNo age minimum21No info provided by WHO; other sources say drinking age is 21 but there is no minimum age for purchase.
SomaliaTotal banTotal ban 
South Africa1818 
South Korea1919 
South SudanN/AN/ANo info provided by WHO.
Spain1616WHO 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 Lanka2121 
SudanTotal banTotal ban 
Suriname1818 
Swaziland1818 
Sweden1818/2018 for beer/20 for wine and spirits
Switzerland16/1816/1816 for beer and wine/18 for spirits
Syria1818 
Tajikistan1818 
Tanzania1818 
Thailand2020 
Timor-LesteNo age minimumNo age minimum 
TogoNo age minimumNo age minimum 
Tonga1818 
Trinidad and Tobago1818 
Tunisia1818 
Turkey1818 
Turkmenistan1818 
Tuvalu1818 
Uganda1818 
Ukraine1818 
United Arab EmiratesTotal banTotal banNo 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 Kingdom1818 
United States2121The 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.
Uruguay1818 
Uzbekistan2020 
Vanuatu1818No info provided by WHO; other sources say 18.
Vatican City (Holy See)1818No info provided by WHO; other sources say 18.
Venezuela1818 
Vietnam1818 
YemenTotal banTotal banIn 2012, Al Qaeda militants reportedly gave four people 80 lashes each for drinking alcohol.
Zambia1818 
Zimbabwe1818 
CountryOn Premise Purchase AgeOff 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

J.D. DiGiovanni, “F—, Marry, Kill: The ‘Legal Age’ for Doing Adult Things around the World,” hopesandfears.com (accessed July 15, 2015)

Frommer’s, “Fast Facts in Samoa,” frommers.com (accessed July 15, 2015)

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

Sabeer Lodhi, “Why Ban Alcohol When It Is Consumed Openly?,” blogs.tribune.com.pk, Nov. 4, 2012

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

James Porteous, “Drinking (or Not) in Doha,” telegraph.co.uk, July 19, 2011

US Department of State, “Independent States in the World,” state.gov, Dec. 30, 214

US Department of State, “U.S. Relations With Kosovo,” state.gov, Jan. 29, 2015

Visa HQ, “Brunei Darussalam Customs,” brunei-darussalam.visahq.com (accessed July 15, 2015)

Carol J. Williams, “Islamists Slam Kuwaiti Lawmaker for Call to Allow Dancing, Alcohol,” latimes.com, Jan. 5, 2015

World Health Organization, “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014,” who.int, 2014