Drinking Age by Country 2021

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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)
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Guam
  • India: Varies from 18 to 25 based on jurisdiction
  • Indonesia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Malaysia
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oman
  • Palau
  • Samoa
  • 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
  • Japan
  • Lithuania
  • Paraguay
  • Thailand

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

  • Malta

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:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh: Illegal for Muslims
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Libya
  • Maldives: Illegal for residents
  • Pakistan: Illegal for Muslims
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Yemen

Drinking Age by Country 2021

Country On Premise Drinking Age Off Premise Drinking Age Notes 2021 Population
Nauru2121No info provided by WHO; other sources list 21 as the drinking age.10,876
Palau212118,169
Micronesia2121116,254
Kiribati2121121,392
Samoa2121No info provided by WHO; other sources list 21200,149
Equatorial Guinea21211,449,896
Mongolia21213,329,289
Central African Republic21154,919,981
Oman21215,223,375
Sri Lanka212121,497,310
Ivory Coast212127,053,629
Iraq2121Sources say only Iraqi Christians are permitted to sell alcohol; alcohol sales were banned entirely from 2006-08.41,179,350
United States2121332,915,073
Iceland2020343,353
Paraguay20207,219,638
Uzbekistan202033,935,763
Thailand202069,950,850
Japan2020126,050,804
South Korea191951,305,186
Vatican City1818No info provided by WHO; other sources say 18.800
Tuvalu181811,931
Monaco181839,511
Saint Kitts And Nevis181853,544
Andorra181877,355
Seychelles181898,908
Tonga1818106,760
Barbados1818Sources say children ages 10-17 may drink in the presence of a parent or guardian.287,711
Vanuatu1818No info provided by WHO; other sources say 18.314,464
Bahamas1818396,913
Belize1818404,914
Cape Verde1818561,898
Suriname1818591,800
Montenegro1818628,053
Bhutan1818779,898
Guyana1816790,326
Comoros1818888,451
Fiji1818902,906
Eswatini18181,172,362
Mauritius18181,273,433
Estonia18181,325,185
Trinidad And Tobago18181,403,375
Latvia18181,866,942
Slovenia18182,078,724
Lesotho18182,159,079
Gabon18No minimum age2,278,825
Botswana18182,397,241
Gambia18182,486,945
Namibia18182,587,344
Lithuania18182,689,862
Albania18182,872,933
Armenia18182,968,127
Jamaica18182,973,463
Bosnia And Herzegovina18183,263,466
Uruguay18183,485,151
Eritrea18183,601,467
Georgia18183,979,765
Moldova18184,024,019
Croatia18184,081,651
Panama18184,381,579
New Zealand18184,860,643
Ireland18184,982,907
Costa Rica18185,139,052
Liberia18185,180,203
Slovakia18185,460,721
Norway1818On- and off-premise age miniumum is 18 for beer and wine/20 for spirits.5,465,630
Finland1818Off-premise age minimum is 18 for beer and wine/20 for spirits.5,548,360
Denmark1816Off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.5,813,298
Singapore18185,896,686
Turkmenistan18186,117,924
El Salvador18186,518,499
Kyrgyzstan18186,628,356
Nicaragua18186,702,385
Bulgaria18186,896,663
Laos18No minimum ageOn-premise age minimum is 18 for beer; no age minimum listed for wine or spirits.7,379,358
Serbia18188,697,550
Israel18188,789,774
Papua New Guinea18189,119,010
Belarus18189,442,862
Hungary18189,634,164
Tajikistan18189,749,627
Honduras181810,062,991
Sweden181818 for beer/20 for wine and spirits10,160,169
Azerbaijan181810,223,342
Jordan181810,269,021
Greece181810,370,744
Czech Republic181810,724,555
Dominican Republic181810,953,703
Cuba181811,317,505
Tunisia181811,935,766
Burundi18No minimum age12,255,433
Rwanda18No minimum age13,276,513
Guinea181813,497,244
Zimbabwe181815,092,171
Chad181816,914,985
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.”17,173,099
Senegal1818WHO lists the drinking age as 18; other sources say 20 or that there is no drinking age.17,196,301
Ecuador181817,888,475
Guatemala181818,249,860
Syria181818,275,702
Zambia181818,920,651
Kazakhstan181818,994,962
Romania181819,127,774
Chile181819,212,361
Malawi181819,647,684
Niger181825,130,817
Australia181825,788,215
Madagascar181828,427,328
Venezuela181828,704,954
Nepal181829,674,920
Ghana181831,732,129
Mozambique181832,163,047
Malaysia181832,776,194
Peru181833,359,418
Angola181833,933,610
Poland181837,797,005
Canada181818: Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec; 19: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Yukon38,067,903
Ukraine181843,466,819
Algeria181844,616,624
Argentina181845,605,826
Uganda181847,123,531
Colombia181851,265,844
Myanmar181854,806,012
Kenya181854,985,698
South Africa181860,041,994
Italy181860,367,477
Tanzania181861,498,437
France181865,426,179
United Kingdom181868,207,116
Turkey181885,042,738
DR Congo181892,377,993
Vietnam181898,168,833
Egypt1818On- and off-premise age minimum is 18 for beer/21 for wine and spirits.104,258,327
Philippines1818111,046,913
Ethiopia1818117,876,227
Mexico1818130,262,216
Russia1818145,912,025
Nigeria1818211,400,708
Brazil1818213,993,437
India1818The 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 30.1,393,409,038
Malta1717442,784
Cyprus17171,215,584
San Marino161634,017
Liechtenstein1616No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.38,250
Dominica161672,167
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines1616111,263
Grenada1616113,021
Saint Lucia1618184,400
Luxembourg1616634,814
Republic of the Congo1618On-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.5,657,013
Switzerland161616 for beer and wine/18 for spirits8,715,494
Austria1616Alcohol laws vary by state: three states have an age minimum of 16 while six states have a minimum age of 18.9,043,070
Portugal161610,167,925
Haiti1616No info provided by WHO; other sources list drinking age as 16.11,541,685
Belgium1616On- and off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.11,632,326
Morocco1616No info provided by WHO; other sources list 16 or 18 as the drinking age.37,344,795
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.46,745,216
Germany1616On- and off-premise age minimum is 16 for beer and wine/18 for spirits.83,900,473
Antigua And Barbuda101098,731
Sao Tome And PrincipeNo minimum ageNo minimum age223,368
Solomon IslandsNo minimum age21No info provided by WHO; other sources say drinking age is 21 but there is no minimum age for purchase.703,996
Timor LesteNo minimum ageNo minimum age1,343,873
Guinea BissauNo minimum ageNo minimum age2,015,494
Sierra LeoneNo minimum ageNo minimum age8,141,343
TogoNo minimum ageNo minimum age8,478,250
BoliviaNo minimum ageNo minimum ageThe drinking age used to be listed as 18, but the WHO no longer lists any age minimum.11,832,940
BeninNo minimum ageNo minimum age12,451,040
CambodiaNo minimum ageNo minimum age16,946,438
MaliNo minimum ageNo minimum age20,855,735
Burkina FasoNo minimum ageNo minimum age21,497,096
CameroonNo minimum ageNo minimum ageThe WHO lists no drinking age; other sources say 18 on-premise and 21 off-premise.27,224,265
IndonesiaNo minimum age21276,361,783
ChinaNo minimum ageNo minimum ageThe WHO lists no drinking age; other sources say a 2006 ban instituted a drinking age of 18 but say it is not enforced.1,444,216,107
BruneiTotal banTotal banNon-Muslim tourists over age 17 may be allowed to import 2 bottles of liquor and 12 cans of beer for personal use.441,532
MaldivesTotal banTotal ban543,617
BahrainTotal banTotal banNo info provided by WHO. Alcohol is illegal for Muslims, and drinking in public is forbidden. Only certain places are allowed to sell alcohol. Drinking age is 18 for non-Muslims.1,748,296
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.2,930,528
KuwaitTotal banTotal banNo info provided by WHO; Alcohol has been banned since 1964 and drinking has been a criminal offense since 1983.4,328,550
MauritaniaTotal banTotal ban4,775,119
LibyaTotal banTotal ban6,958,532
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.9,991,089
SomaliaTotal banTotal ban16,359,504
YemenTotal banTotal banIn 2012, Al Qaeda militants reportedly gave four people 80 lashes each for drinking alcohol.30,490,640
Saudi ArabiaTotal banTotal ban35,340,683
AfghanistanTotal banTotal ban39,835,428
SudanTotal banTotal ban44,909,353
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.”85,028,759
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.166,303,498
PakistanTotal banTotal banAlcohol is illegal for Muslims and consumption is a crime in Pakistan punishable by whipping. Non-Muslims more than 21 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.225,199,937

Drinking Age by Country 2021