World Facts

Drinking Ages Around the World

A list of countries by legal drinking age.

The Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) is the minimum age at which a person is legally allowed to handle or consume alcoholic drinks. The laws on MLDA cover a wide range of issues including when and where alcohol can be consumed and vary from country to country. The majority of the countries have set MLDA at 18 or 19 years. The United States (except Puerto Rico and Virginia’s Island) and 19 other countries, especially Asian countries, have the highest set MLDA. However, some areas in India have drinking ages as high as 25-30 years. In some countries, especially Muslim countries, alcohol is completely banned, with an exception sometimes made for non-Muslims.

Overview of Minimum Drinking Age Around the World

Youngest Drinking Age

Although the majority of the countries around the world have set the MLDA at 18 years, 16 years is considered the youngest drinking age. At least eight countries and regions have set their MLDA at 16 years. These countries include Barbados, the British Virginia Islands, Cuba, Luxembourg, Panama, Serbia, Serbia, and Zimbabwe. In these countries, it is an offense for anyone to sell, give, or offer alcoholic drinks to people under the age of 16 years. However, in Zimbabwe, a person is allowed to sell or supply alcoholic drinks to children under 16 years upon the proof of a written document signed by parents or guardians of the minor known to the person selling the alcohol.

Drinking Age in Italy

Italy has set a minimum legal drinking age at 16 years, one of the lowest MLDA in the world. In 2002, Renato Balduzzi, the then Health Minister proposed to raise the minimum drinking age to 18 years. However, selling alcoholic drinks to children under the age of 18 years in premises is considered illegal and attracts a fine of €250 to €1000. Giving alcohol to those under 16 years is considered a crime and is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment. Despite the regulations, many minors enjoy alcoholic drinks, especially in the company of their parents and during social events.

Drinking Age in Russia

Most Russians believe that the minimum drinking age in the country is 18 years. However, there are no laws or regulations prohibiting minors from taking alcoholic drinks. On the contrary, selling alcohol to persons under the age of 18 years is prohibited by federal and regional laws and may attract fines and even jail terms.

Why Minimum Legal Drinking Age?

Several reasons have been given for the laws and regulations behind the minimum legal drinking age. For some people, introducing minors to alcohol interferes with their normal expected activities such as studies. Alcohol may also influence their behaviors. However, the commonly known reason for banning minors from taking alcohol until they attain a certain age is the effect of alcohol as on the brain in adolescents. Since their brains are still maturing, alcohol may harm their memory and long-term thinking. Alcohol may also cause complications such as liver failure and hormonal imbalance in minors due to the constant changes in their bodies as they mature, especially during puberty.

Drinking Ages Around the World

´╗┐CountryDrinking Age
AfghanistanAlcohol Prohibited
Albania18
AlgeriaAlcohol Prohibited
American Samoa21
Andorra18
AngolaNo Drinking Age
AnguillaNo Drinking Age
Antigua and BarbudaNo Drinking Age
Argentina18
Armenia18
Australia18
Austria18*
Azerbaijan18
Bahamas18
BahrainNo Drinking Age
BangladeshAlcohol Prohibited*
Barbados16
Belarus18
Belgium18*
Belize18
Bermuda18
Bhutan18
Bolivia18
Bosnia and Herzevogina18
Botswana18*
Brazil18
British Virgin Islands16
Brunei17*
Bulgaria18
Burundi18*
CambodiaNo Drinking Age
Cameroon21*
Canada19*
Cape Verde18
Cayman Islands18
Central African Republic15*
Chile18
China18
Colombia18
Comoros1
Costa Rica18
Croatia18
Cuba16
Cyprus17
Czech Republic18
Denmark18*
Dominican Republic18
Ecuador18
Egypt21
El Salvador18
Equatorial Guinea 21
Eritrea18
Estonia18
Ethiopia15
Falkland Islands18
Fiji18
Finlan18*
France18
Gabon18
Gambia17
Georgia18
Germany18*
Ghana18
Gibraltar18
Grenada18
Guam21
Guatemala18
Guinea-BissauNo Drinking Age
Guyana18*
Haiti18
Honduras18
Hong Kong18
Hungary18
Iceland20
India18*
Indonesia21
IranAlcohol Prohibited
IraqAlcohol Prohibited
Ireland18
Israel18
Italy16
Japan20
Jordan18
Kazakhstan21
Kenya18*
KosovoNo Drinking Age
KuwaitAlcohol Prohibited
Kyrgyzstan18
Latvia18
Lebanon18
Lesotho18
Liberia18
LibyaAlochol Prohibited
Liechtenstein18*
Lithuania20
Luxembourg16
MacauNo Drinking Age
Macedonia18
Malawi18
Malaysia21
MaldivesAlcohol Prohibited*
Malta17
Mexico18
Micronesia18
Moldova18
Mongolia18
Montenegro18
Mozambique18
Myanmar18
Nepal18
Netherlands18
New Zealand18
Nicaragua18*
Niger18
Nigeria18
North Korea18
Northern Mariana Islands21
Norway18*
Oman21
PakistanAlcohol Prohibited*
Palau21
Palestine16
Panama18
Papua New Guinea18
Paraguay20
Peru18
Philippines18
Poland18
Puerto Rico18
QatarAlcohol Prohibited
Republic of the Congo18
Rwanda18
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines16
Samoa21
San Marino18
Saudi ArabiaAlcohol Prohibited
Senegal18
Serbia16
Seychelles18
Singapore18
Slovakia18
Slovenia18
Solomon Islands21
SomaliaAlcohol Prohibited
South Africa18
South Korea19
South Sudan18
Spain18
Sri Lanka21
SudanAlcohol Prohibited
Swaziland18
Sweden18*
Switzerland18*
Syria18
Taiwan18
Tajikistan18
Tanzania18
Thailand20
TogoNo Drinking Age
Tokelau18
Tonga18
Trindad and Tobago18
TunisiaNo Drinking Age
Turk and Caicos Islands18
Turkey18
Turkmenistan18
Uganda18*
Ukraine18
United Arab Emirates18*
United Kingdom18*
United States21
Uruguay18
Uzbekistan20
Vanuatu18
Venezuela18
Vietnam18
Western SaharaNo Drinking Age
YemenAlcohol Prohibited
Zambia18
Zimbabwe16

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