The Legal Drinking Age Around the World

drinking age

One of the rights of passage for many western kids is an overseas trip the summer between graduating high school and starting college or even taking a gap year to travel abroad. Of course part of the reason to travel is to see the world but to also meet other travelers and that means pubs and hanging out in clubs. So we thought it’s be a good public service to compile a list of the legal drinking age across the globe.

We are not saying all backpacking trips are fueled by alcohol, but having a pint or two is a pretty common theme.

Most Americans may be shocked to find that their drinking laws tend to be on the conservative or parochial side. the US joins Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Palau and Sri Lanka as setting the minimum age at 21 (though there are a few exceptions). For countries where alcohol consumption is legal, these are the highest minimum age limits.

Globally The mean minimum legal drinking age is 15.9 years old. The majority of countries have set the drinking age at 18, while 50 countries the minimum age as lower than 18, and 12 countries have set the bar (pardon the pun) higher than 18.

There are often slight differences within countries as well. For instance in some provinces in Canada the drinking age is 18 as in the province of Quebec, however the province of Ontario has it set to 19.

World Drinking Ages
None 16 17 18 19 20 21
  • Albania
  • Angola
  • Armenia
  • Cambodia
  • Comoros
  • Cuba
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Jamaica
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Swaziland
  • Togo
  • Uruguay
  • Vietnam
  • Austria (18 in some areas)
  • Belgium*
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Germany*
  • Georgia
  • Haiti
  • Italy
  • Liechtenstein*
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Malasia
  • Netherlands*
  • Sudan
  • Switzerland*
  • Tokelau
  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil (19 in some provinces)
  • Burundi (none with parents)
  • Cameroon
  • Canada (19 in some provinces)
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chile
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Savador
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji (lowered from 21 in 2009)
  • Finland
  • France (no minimum age in private)
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India (varies by state)
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgystan
  • Lebano
  • Lesoto
  • Lithuania
  • Malaw
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Moldovia
  • Mongolia
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Puerto Rico
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Republic of China
  • Republic of Congo
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Samoa
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovena
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden (none for low proof beverage)
  • Syria
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States Virgin Islands
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Nicaragua
  • South Korea
  • Iceland
  • Japan
  • Paraguay
  • Indonesia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Sri Lanka
  • United States (with many exceptions, see below)
* 16 to18 depending on beverage

You shouldn’t base a gap year trip on whether or not you’re old enough to drinking in the country you plan on visiting, but it is nice to know what the legal drinking age actually is so as to avoid any trouble. And of course it goes without saying (although we will) please always drink responsibly if you do indulge overseas. We’ve see too many accidents and problems in our years of travel based on alcohol consumption and hope we can help you to avoid falling into these common traps.

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