Alcohol is a regulated drug that is made with fermented grains, vegetables, or fruits. Alcohol is classified as a depressant and slows down motor functions, reaction times, and speech. Alcohol consumption varies significantly between countries, as does the legal drinking age.
If you live in the United States, you probably already know that you must be at least 21 years of age or older to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages with very few exceptions in some jurisdictions. Surprisingly, this is one of the highest drinking ages in the world. Just to the north of the U.S. is Canada, which has a legal drinking age of 18 to 19.
Believe it or not, there are even some nations where the drinking age is far lower. Some nations have laws in place prohibiting minors from purchasing alcohol but no laws preventing alcohol consumption. In other nations, drinking is outlawed entirely, regardless of age.
This article will focus on legal drinking ages in nations around the world. We’ll kick this off by looking at the nations that require residents to be at least 21 years old to consume alcohol. These nations also require a person to be at least 21 to even purchase alcohol unless otherwise noted. Those nations are:
- Cameroon: Can purchase and consume at age 18 if accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older
- Central African Republic: Only required when sold on-premises (such as in a bar or restaurant)
- Equatorial Guinea
- India: Varies from 18 to 25 based on jurisdiction
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates: Varies from 18 to 21 based on jurisdiction
- United States
Some nations require a person to be at least 20 years old to consume alcohol. A person must also be at least 20 to purchase alcohol in these nations unless otherwise noted:
- Finland: Must be at least 20 to possess or purchase alcohol that is 23% to 80% ABV
In the following nations, you must be at least 19 years old to consume alcohol. All people must be at least 19 to purchase alcohol unless otherwise noted:
Canada: Must be at least 19 in certain provinces
In the following nation, you must be at least 17 to purchase or consume alcohol:
Brunei: Non-Muslims can drink at age 17 with restrictions
In the following nations, you must be at least 16 to drink alcohol. You must also be at least 16 to purchase alcohol unless otherwise noted.
- Austria: Must be 16 in certain provinces. In other provinces, you can purchase beer, wine, and cider at age 16.
- British Virgin Islands
- Germany: Can purchase and consume beer, wine, and cider at age 16
- Guyana: Can purchase beer, wine, or cider with a meal. Otherwise, must be 18 to purchase or consume.
- Liechtenstein: Can purchase beer, wine, and cider at age 16. Must be 18 to purchase spirits.
- Palestinian Authority
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
In these nations, you must be at least 15 years of age or older to consume alcohol. You must also be at least 15 to purchase alcohol unless otherwise noted.
Central African Republic: Must be at least 15 for off-premises consumption and possession
In the following nations, there is no legal age limit for consuming alcohol. There are also no restrictions on purchasing alcohol unless otherwise noted:
In these nations, the consumption or possession of alcohol is illegal: