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

Minimum Legal Drinking Age in Other 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.
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

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)

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